Dr James Richards

PhD Management

Why I wanted to do a PhD

I cannot take the credit for my first interest in taking a PhD. I was approached by an academic member of staff several months before completing my honours degree, who pointed out that I would make a good PhD candidate. It seemed like a good idea as I was approaching the end of my four years as an undergraduate student and I felt there was more to know and to do in relation to my degree subject (Human Resource Management). As such, I found it quite easy to identify what I would like to study as part of a PhD. It was also quite easy to stay focused and motivated for the duration of the PhD.

My experience of doing a PhD in Stirling Management School

When I look back now on my time as a PhD student (2000 to 2003) I cannot believe how much I packed in, especially in terms of conducting fieldwork. My three years began with the usual getting to know my supervisors and research area, defining my research interests more clearly, as well as getting to play a part in the teaching of undergraduate students - students only a year behind me in terms of academic achievement! Year two was very much about going into the field and my fieldwork meant multiple ethnographic case studies and very little time on campus and supervisor contact. Year three was the big year. This was the year that everything started to come together and the chapters started to regularly come off the production line. My overall experience of my PhD at Stirling was very positive and first and foremost it helped me confirm that what I wanted to become an academic working full time in higher education. It was, however, hard work and not without setbacks.

How doing a PhD has helped my career

The PhD has been absolutely central to my career, especially in terms of landing my first full-time academic post (2003 at Heriot-Watt University). Being able to attend academic conferences as a PhD student helped a great deal, in terms of understanding the important aspects of academic work, as well as providing the chance to meet other PhD students and academics in my field. Since then I have published three papers from my PhD, as well as publishing three more on research built on and very closely linked to my PhD. Generally, my PhD has also been critical in terms of helping me to understand what is expected in terms of being an academic researcher. It has also helped me to teach and support students undertaking undergraduate, postgraduate and doctoral projects.

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