Why I want to do a PhD

Inger Mewburn at The Thesis Whisperer asks what to say when asked “Should I do a PhD?”

The responses in the comments got me thinking about why I want to do my PhD. There are a whole variety of reasons given on the post for doing (or not doing) the doctorate. I think it must be a good idea to be honest with yourself (and probably others) about your motivations. I don’t think there can be one true motivation for doing it. We will have all sorts of reasons, some very instrumental or pragmatic, others much “nobler” or more intrinsic.

My motivations, as I am aware of them, are (in order!):
1. I want to build a career as an academic scholar because I love it and I think it makes a very fulfilling career. In order to do that I realistically have to complete my doctorate at the very least (a necessary but not sufficient condition!)
2. There is so much out there that I am interested in and want to read and digest and analyse. Doing a PhD gives me the time and purpose to do more of that. At the moment I am a hopeless generalist; the PhD would force me to narrow my focus and go deeper into a particular area of specialism rather than trying to keep up with loads of different areas of research
3. I would love to be a “Dr”! (I said I was going to be honest!)


Update: Well, I applied a few weeks ago to start a PhD. I’ve been accepted but “only” onto the MPhil at first, which of course I should have known, this is quite normal practice. So as of 1st Feb I should be enrolled on an MPhil, but I won’t be able to call myself a PhD student for several years, if ever! I think the MPhil will be quite enough of a challenge in itself.

I will continue to think about my motivations… :-)

I might post a summary of my initial research degree proposal at some point. It’s full of holes of course, but it’s a start.