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Academia

PhD done. And now?

on
2022-01-20

So a couple of weeks ago, I handed in my dissertation. I am actually done writing and now have to wait until I hear back from the commission and meet with them to defend my thesis. Naturally, I am thinking what to do after the PhD and there are several possibilities. The problem is, they all lack the same: a good idea…

So what can I do after the PhD?

So I live, study and work in Germany. Here, we get our PhD title (Dr. phil. for archaeology) only after the full publication of the defended and revised dissertation (at least at my university). Up until now, I work as an assistant, which I can do up to six years (maybe longer due to Covid, but that is another story). After these six years, I would usually do a post-doc project. I can also apply for a tenure-track position as a professor, but it is unlikely to get one of those so early at this stage.

So this basically means that I need to come up with a project.

What project then?

This is the question I ask myself these days. I can attach to an existing project. After all, there are calls for post-docs to work with existing projects, but this usually means to move. Moving with a child is difficult. On the other hand, I could come up with my own project and apply for some funding. Having my PhD (at some point) enables me to do this. The only problem is, I need a really good idea for that. It should be something new and helpful of course. So how to come up with that?

Working where I am, I see a lot of presentations of existing projects and ideas that are really good. Unfortunately, somebody else already came up with them. In archaeology, you always need to work with some form of data. As an archaeologist, I could dig up something and work with that. Being a digital archaeologist, I can also find some existing data to use for a computational analysis. Or I can come up with a new method, soft- or hardware, that advances my field. The possibilities are theoretically endless…

And now?

And this is exactly the problem. The possibilities are endless, but they do not provide revolutionary ideas. It is pretty hard to come up with something that is new, advances the field, interests me for at least three years and has the potential to render a usable and publishable result. I still don’t know what kind of project that will be, so I need to think about it more. Eventually I will come up with something, which leads me to the next step: the application process.

To get funding, I will need to write a grant application to (possibly) the DFG (German Research Foundation). In my case, this likely will be the so-called Walter Benjamin Programme. There are other possibilities too, but generally it is advised to start with this one. So I will spend my next weeks with thinking about good ideas and talking to some people. Wish me luck!

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Sebastian Hageneuer
Germany

Hi! My name is Sebastian. I am an archaeologist, a university lecturer, freelancer, guitarist, karateka and father. You could say I am quiet busy, so I learned to manage my time and energy to build good habits and still have space for myself and my family. Sounds difficult? Read here how I do it. Every Friday.

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