The main reason I chose to do a PhD was, as they say in some theology schools, ‘missional’. In this post I will explain this, and also assess the strengths and weaknesses of my answer a few years into my PhD research.
why do a PhD?
If you’re weighing up whether to do a PhD or not and have got this far in the “Why do a PhD?” series, you will have already considered your motivations, skills and the honour brought to Christ by studying his creation. But, you may also be trying to decide if it is worth spending 3-5 years more researching.
I have wanted to be an academic since I was about 8 years old. I loved learning new things. In my free time and over the holidays, I would pursue what I in retrospect call ‘little research projects’, trying to learn as much as possible about a topic to advance my understanding. If I did well in school it would not be a problem to get into a good university. This is the good side of my life’s story.
Last week I outlined three questions that I felt needed answering before I could commit to 3 or more years of study. Although the process that led to me reflecting in this way was painful at times, it meant that I went into my studies confident that I was making the right decision. In this post, I want to unpack each of the questions in a little more depth, and explain how they helped me realise that a PhD was the right choice for me.
I started applying for PhD projects mainly because I didn’t want to abandon ideas I’d been developing during my earlier studies. I had a blue-sky, rose-tinted, starry-eyed view of academic research. In my final undergraduate exams I may have lost precious marks by trying to work out my own odd ideas instead of focusing on the breadth of existing scholarship that my lecturers had imparted. So here was an opportunity to redeem myself: I could do a PhD and work everything out in a thesis!