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Starting a life as a doctoral student

I started my journey as a doctoral student at the beginning of this year. During my twenty years in working life I have many times thought about doing a dissertation, but “life happened” as it so many times does. But last autumn, almost suddenly, many things fell into place and I realized I was writing my research plan.

After being admitted to the doctoral program of social sciences I felt the joy and the excitement of all the new things ahead. As my supervisor said to me, I now have the opportunity and freedom to do research on the subject that really interests me. Freedom, what a lovely and at the same time complicated thing!

Despite at least the seemingly endless possibilities, I have a strong vision of what will be the main focus of my research. For a human geographer who has worked throughout her career in the field of regional development and is now starting as a doctoral student in regional studies, what would be more suitable than focusing on the complex system of regional development and how it is managed.

In the constantly changing world of globally connected phenomena but regionally and locally implemented policies there must be different perceptions of how regional development is implemented and managed. What is particularly interesting is how long can the old ways of managing the system be better than a bag full of new views, actors, and networks.

However, before I can completely immerse myself in the world of regional development from the perspective of scientific research, I have many practical issues to solve. For now, I must manage my time between working full-time and attending courses, and doing research at the same time. Fortunately, many courses are not time dependent and can be taken online.

Still, it´s clear that I also want to focus entirely on research for a while. This means I need to find time and funding for a research leave. As much as I see my everyday work as a benefit and an inspiration to my research, I feel it´s also essential to change my perspective towards being a researcher. For me, it is the opportunity to dive deep into the theories and concepts of my research topic and at this moment, that is what I look forward to the most.

Marita Mutka
Doctoral student in regional studies
Doctoral Programme of Social Sciences
University of Vaasa

3 kommenttia artikkeliin “Starting a life as a doctoral student

  1. Hi Marita!

    This is a very nicely written post about how you have started your journey and how have you planned for it all.
    I can see how hard it is to combine work and student life at the same time. I know that many people are struggling with the same kind of challenges. It is good that you can still get something out of your work that can help you with the research. It also helps that the subject is something that truly interests you.

    I wish you the best of luck with your research and I look forward to look into it!

    Sandra

  2. Hi Marita.
    You have made the wise decision to start doing research after or in addition to your long career. Work experience gives perspective to research but of course a certain distance is also necessary. Your instructor said to you the wise words ”duty and freedom” to explore a topic of interest to you. I recognized in your text the concepts of regional,development,management, complexity, new ways and opportunities and you have the freedom to decide on a refined focus your research. Accepting complexity will help you find new solutions, certainly also in terms of time use and you will probaply have experience of that in your work.
    NICE RESEARCH TRIP.
    Marjo-Riitta

  3. Hi Marita,
    Nice text which is interesting to read! You have made a good decision to be back as a doctoral student. As you have lost of practical experience in the field, it will help you to do a research which will have impact on filling the gap. Combining studies with full time work is a challenge which most of us facing! As you said, the online courses makes life a little easy. I hope you will manage it well and get to your destination!
    Good Luck!

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