Friday, August 14, 2009

Heading down PhD road

I think I might be heading down PhD road. I'm not too sure what to think of this.

Today I had a meeting with my adviser for the literature review I discussed in my last post. We didn't actually talk too much about my work thus far, which is fine, I'm sure I'll get feedback soon enough. What we did discuss for some time was the prospect of my doing a PhD. The thing is, I'm not sure I would be happy with a librarian-esque job. I could probably manage it for a short while, doing reference or giving library instruction. But I suspect eventually I would grow bored and want something else to do. Also, I don't want to drop my research topic once I'm done the advanced research course this fall. I think there's more work to be done in the nutrition information seeking area, and I'm not likely to find a job that will allow me to pursue my interest.

I'm not concerned about the work required for a PhD degree. I know I can handle it, possibly better than many people who have gone through the process before. I'm highly, one might even say, over motivated--I think this has to do with my being the youngest. I'm pretty good about not procrastinating too much and I can work without direct supervision. My adviser told me I would probably do well in a PhD program, and even hinted if I didn't do one now, I would likely wind up doing one eventually anyway. The good thing (actually there are 2 good things), is one, I will be able to apply to both SSHRC and CIHR (where there's a lot more money) for funding. And two, the Library and Information Studies/Science (LIS) field is in need of professors, or so I'm told. In fact, according to my adviser (who was recruited to U of A before she'd even completed her degree), they've been in need of professors for at least 10 years. Therefore, getting a job shouldn't be too difficult.

So what's the problem? My writing. I want to keep writing. I want to be published, not just on scholarly papers or government reports, which I already am, I want to be a published fiction author. And just when, in the 3-4 years it takes me to complete a PhD or the years after will I have time to write? I might, as I did last year, still be able to squash 30 to 40 minutes of writing in before I go in for morning classes. But only writing 30 to 40 minutes a day will take me a long time to complete a full manuscript, even a young adult one. This, above the marking, above the teaching, even above the pressure to produce papers and attend conferences is my greatest concern. When will I find the time to write? When will I ever see one of my stories, printed and bound on the shelves of your local bookseller?

Despite this, I will probably begin the application process soon. U of A does not have a LIS PhD program yet, and aren't expected to for a couple more years. Instead I have to apply for an interdisciplinary degree. This means much rigmarole. I have to co-ordinate advisers and courses (6), then get approval from grad chairs and then the University. In the end, if I decide this is what I want to do, I should be able to start in the fall of 2010 (or potentially even do a course next summer). Then I can really start reading PhD (comics) in earnest.




Lisa said...

Wow, you are brave, but I bet you'll do really well. You are really motivated to write fiction, so I bet you'll still find time for that too. And hey, if it keeps you in Edmonton that much longer than I'm all for it!

Cape-Freak said...

If your advisor seems to think you may end up doing a PhD eventually anyway, that's certainly something to consider. I've ended up going back for mine, after all, and it sounds like you've got a research area you're interested in continuing with, so that's a bonus there.

I don't know how it would be for your program, but I've been finding that I've still got a fair amount of time to work on some of my side projects - more so than when I was working full time, in face (or maybe I'm just more motivated to set aside time for them now that I'm doing something that I find more worthwhile). Of course, I haven't been taking courses over the summer, so that helps, but even the term I was taking courses it seemed like there was mostly sufficient time to devote to other things, if I wanted to.

Naturally, things get busy sometimes and personal projects have to be untended for a while, but that's life, I suppose.

Anyway, it certainly doesn't hurt to go ahead and apply. Never a bad thing to have options.


S. Andrea Milne said...

I think there's a good chance I'm going to apply...however, because so much pre-application leg work is required for an interdisiplinary degree it probably means I will also be starting my PhD in the fall. This thought doesn't really bother me too much. I hope I will be able to find some funding so there's a chance I won't have to maintain a part-time job, in which case I might find time to write.