N.B. Have made a few amendments since the original posting (on reflection I decided to clarify a few points!).
Right, I'm going to cut straight to the chase here: I find being a full-time PhD student a very isolating experience. Are the years spent working towards a doctorate meant to be a struggle? Is doing a PhD simply a matter of survival? I'm very aware that my PhD is my life. Diversions are few and far between. I need to find some head-space, but when would I have time to do other things? I spend most of my time very unsure; about my research, about where my life is heading. I'm sure it can't just be me who feels this way - in fact, I KNOW it's not just me.
So, assuming it isn't just me, I'm struck by the apparent lack of 'community' support out there for research students. I'm sure part of the problem is that we get terribly comfortable as undergraduate or masters students, and being thrown out on our own, as new PhD students, is a bit of of a shock to the system. Having said that though I think we all very quickly get caught up in our own research (perhaps its part of the research 'culture'; that fear that someone else is going to come along and nick your ideas, so for heaven's sake don't let too much slip - the postgrad equivalent of shielding your test answers from prying eyes!) and forget the benefits of sharing our time with other people. Really, when do we get opportunities to bounce ideas off others - other than our supervisors, or even just to hang out with other people who understand what we're going through? That is the value of a collaborative blog (what The Attic is supposed to be!). It gives us the opportunity to come together and share experiences, worries, and advice even when we can't in person, as most of us are not campus-based.
I've recently been thinking a lot about what happens post-PhD. Perhaps those of you who are about to submit or have just finished could let us know what life is like out there in the big bad world of academia? My worry at the moment is that I'm wasting my time (and money). Will I have a career at the end of all this? Or will I be just as unemployable as I was before I started?
It's amazing how many non-Leicester people out there are reading the blog. Please feel free to pass on your thoughts, comments or suggestions (providing you promise to comply with our 'comments policy'!), especially if you're a PhD student based at another institution - it would be great to forge some cross-institution/cross-discipline links via this blog.
The Attic (a name which commemorates our first physical location) is, first and foremost, a site for the research students of the School of Museum Studies at the University of Leicester: a virtual community which aims to include all students, be they campus-based and full-time, or distance-learning and overseas. But we welcome contributions from students of museum studies - and allied subject areas - from outside the School and from around the world. Here you will find a lot of serious stuff, like exhibition and research seminar reviews, conference alerts and calls for papers, but there's also some 'fluff'; the things that inspire, distract and keep us going. After all, while we may be dead serious academic types, we're human too.