My Path Through Research

The Trials and Triumphs of Doing a PhD

Collaborative Doctoral Awards

Collaborative doctoral awards are a ‘special bread of PhDs’. In these kinds of PhDs, the work carried out is not only based at a higher education institution (HEI), but is also done in partnership with a non-academic partner organisation or business. This often means that the student needs to split his/her time between these two institutions, doing the work required in both, but at the same time getting the resources and know-how from both institutions.

But why am I discussing this today? Well, I am actually carrying out a collaborative doctoral award (or as it is also known, CDA); my HEI is University College London, while the partner organisation is The National Archives. When I accepted the post however I didn’t really realise what this means, and I am up to now certain I am not realising the full impact of this. However, yesterday I attended a meeting which for the first time opened my eyes to what this really means.

What was the meeting? The meeting was a London CDA Network Meeting. This means that the CDA students based in London (or even outside for that matter) meet up to discuss about CDAs, and in general as a networking and support structure. I had received e-mails about a couple of others, but for some reason or other never really made it. However yesterday I did! And so glad I did…I took so much out of it.

Being there, talking to other CDA students meant that for the first time I actually started to understand what a CDA really means…up to yesterday I knew there were two partners involved, but I never really thought about it, and how this affects me and my work (negatively or positively). The most important part for me was starting to realise the full implications of a CDA. This means that I can now start thinking about this reality, and hopefully making the best out of this experience…there is so much you can take from it once you realise the opportunities. Also, hearing others articulate their experience made me put into words some of the feelings I have been having about the PhD. It made me understand better that it is not only me having these thoughts and experiences…but what others could do was articulate them, having been in the process and thought about the reality of a CDA more than I had (Before yesterday I barely thought of myself as a CDA student!)

So what do I think about CDAs now that I have finally realised their scope? I think they are a great thing to be part of as having two supervisors in two different types of institutions means that you can get a wider variety of support. However, I think you need to first of all understand the reality to be able to exploit it as best you can and get the best out of it. It seems that CDAs are a ‘new breed’ of PhDs, so if I had to say anything for future students it would be for them to understand the reality sooner than I did. In a way I feel that when I started I was not made aware of the full benefits of a CDA…and this seems to be a common comment by most people there – e.g. not just me, but others as well never thought about being located at the partner institution and just thought about moving to the academic partner. However, this is one of the benefits of a CDA…that you can access the resources of both institutions, depending on the project’s needs.

I think that it is important that there is more information out there about what a CDA really is. I think it is important for new CDA students to understand what it means, since only like that can students get the best out of it. But overall I think it is a great idea…and having a student network for it is even better 😉 Thanks London CDA Network for letting me know about what I am part of without realising the full scope of it!

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One Response

  1. […] with Archives: A CDA Network Event In June I wrote about the CDA network and an event of theirs I attended. That event worked to introduce me to the real concept of a CDA […]

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