What does the part-time doctoral journey look like? Building a community of stories.

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This first post is from Dr. Jon Rainford (@jonrainford) . Jon is the creator of this blog and completed his part-time doctorate in 2019 at Staffordshire University. His thesis examined widening participation policy and practices in higher education.

This blog is set to launch early in the new year and will feature a wide range of posts by those who are undertaking part-time doctorates, those who have successfully completed them and those who supervise doctoral students. The aim being to develop a rich resource that captures the diverse and wide range of doctoral experiences. Ideally this will include the voices of those who are less represented in traditional literatures on doctoral study, include the scope of doctorates from the PhD, professional doctorates and those undertaking theses by publication. It is also envisaged that the blog will be global in nature and we would welcome submissions from a variety of countries.

I have recently reflected elsewhere on my tips to doing a part time-doctorate and my tips for what can help if you are supervising a part-time doctorate. I think there are some real distinct benefits of doing a doctorate part-time, especially when the focus of the study relates to policy or practice. The extended thinking time to work through the arguments in your thesis that the part-time mode allows for is one of the greatest benefits in my mind and something which can really benefit the doctoral researcher.

Additionally, I followed this up with my tips for thriving during the part-time doctorate at the inaugural seminar of the professional doctorate society (@ProfDocSoc on twitter). There is hopefully a recording that I will add soon but the seven key areas I discussed were:

  • Embracing your identity
  • Building your tribe
  • Managing your project as opposed to it managing you
  • It being your own race….
  • And the race being a marathon not a sprint
  • You can’t drink from an empty glass
  • Always leave threads to pick up…

However, the part-time experience is one where there is a significant gap in the literature. Whilst there are many excellent blogs and books covering the process of studying for a doctorate, many of these focus on the full-time experience. This is something I am working on helping address in the near future and if anyone would like to share there experiences of undertaking a part-time doctorate on this blog, please do get in touch.

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