What motivates doctoral researchers?
Whilst specific motivation to undertake research varies, most research students report that one or more of the following motivations were important in making their decision:
Enjoying the academic environment
Your motivation may be that you enjoy learning and want to continue to live and work within an academic setting.
The opportunity is available
Another reason that you might be considering postgraduate research is that you have been approached by an academic and asked to apply. This can be very flattering, but make sure this is the right decision for you.
For many postgraduate researchers, personal interest in the subject forms the basis of their decision to continue in or return to University. Some intend to use a doctorate as the basis of a future career, while others are simply keen to take the opportunity to continue to learn about something interesting while the opportunity is there.
Specific career choice
You may wish to embark on a doctoral degree to be able to have a career in academia or another research-intensive career. While there are some exceptions, a doctoral level qualification is increasingly essential to enter academia and many related professions.
Broader career choice
The growth in undergraduate numbers has arguably changed the status of an honours degree. On one hand it is a less exclusive qualification while on the other many jobs that were traditionally open to non-graduates, are now deemed graduate-only occupations. In this climate a doctorate is viewed by some as a means of standing out from the crowd and ensuring access to a full range of professional career paths. Investment banks, management consultants and the pharmaceutical industry are known to preferentially employ people with a doctoral degree. Investigate potential careers and examine how those employers perceive the benefits offered by a doctorate, and which subjects are most valuable.
To experience other cultures
Many research students take advantage of the opportunity to travel within their degree, often spending an extended period studying or collecting data in other institutions throughout the world. Whilst this might not be part of your initial funding, numerous bodies award grants for international travel and exchange of researchers. By applying for grants and undertaking this form of research, you will not only have a great experience but also enhance your research and build your networks.
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