Post-doc: A fluid identity in transition

I haven’t posted for a while but here are my current pre-Christmas, pre 2012 musings.

In joining PhD2Published as Managing Editor and also Twitter in a professional capacity (as @dratarrant) just a month ago, I have already started to develop important networks with fellow academics and have been exposed to some really interesting ideas, not only in relation to geographical and other topics, but also in relation to the online identities of academics at various stages of their careers. One that I have found particularly poignant is how ECR’s (Early Career Researchers; or in my case ECT; Early Career Teacher) deal with the grey area defined by the post PhD/viva experience.

Hannah Andrews at Warwick University has written a fascinating reflective piece that really resonates with me about the post PhD experience, arguing that the post-doc identity is a fluid one, something that again reflects my own research interests and the uncertainties and questions I am currently dealing with.  This has developed in my mind, the idea of the Post-doc identity, (also my own at present) as being in transition.

I am currently a Senior Teaching Associate, part time at 30 hours, my second part time and fixed term post in the past 2 years. The contract for this job is only 10 months and while it is taking up a lot of my time, I view it as a building block in the forging of a (hopefully more permanent) academic career. This brings with it a great deal of that uncertainty and questioning that career development and job searching inevitably creates. In my ‘spare’ time I am also working on research bids (unpaid) and trying to get academic papers published. The interesting thing about this time of my life, is that I feel as though I am developing (in both professional confidence and knowledge), but also at a strange juncture that is stalling my research progress and ability to read widely in my research area.

I currently find the support of social media extremely comforting, if not slightly daunting. Others are in similar uncertain positions, coping with their own transitions and changing identities and are sharing their experiences. An interesting idea being developed at some universities are Research Exchange blogs (e.g. Warwick University Research Exchange and one at King Colleges London by Sarah-Louise Quinnell). These generate spaces for sharing uncertainties and questions, providing research networks (locally and eventually nationally) and create a resource for those who come to the stage of finishing their viva and their PhD and potentially experience that strange grey area, the strange unknowing and discomfort of an identity in transition.


6 thoughts on “Post-doc: A fluid identity in transition

  1. muito elogiável ,tais abordagens ,neste aspecto !. vejo com bons olhos seu interesse !. é fantástico sua ponderações !!

  2. Pingback: Establishing a #Phdpostdoc community! | Dr Anna Tarrant

  3. Pingback: In limbo | Dr Jackie Kirkham

  4. Pingback: Negotiating multiple identities in teaching; focusing on the professional and the caring | Dr Anna Tarrant

  5. Pingback: One year on! A year in the life of…an early career academic | Dr Anna Tarrant

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