Why Bother Doing A PhD?

Two weeks ago, Jonathan wrote and posted To PhD or not to PhD, a short post on the merits of doing research. Given the reaction on social media and the obvious interest in the subject, we thought we would follow it up. This week, Professor Jemina Napier, lets us in on what motivates her to do research herself and help others.

By nature, translators and interpreters are inquisitive. We need to be in order to critically analyse the languages and cultures we work with, and to determine the best linguistic and cultural choices we make in the translation/ interpretation process. Being inquisitive lends itself very well to doing a PhD!

I am a practising interpreter and chose to do a PhD as I was curious to explore my own practice, and the practice of others, in more depth to help me better understand interpreting as a situated activity. I’ve never looked back and I now have the pleasure of supervising others’ PhD projects.

I believe that doing a PhD is a collaborative activity between student and supervisor(s). The student has an idea and its my role to be a mentor for them along their research journey, but also for us to work together to achieve the thesis at the end of the journey. This means lots of talking, identifying relevant literature, assisting with research design, reading and commenting on drafts, and generally giving constructive guidance throughout all the milestones of a 3-4 year project. But the bottom line is that we need to work together as a team.

The satisfaction for both student and supervisor on completion of a PhD is immense. It’s almost like giving birth! Something new has been brought into the world, and you both had a part in creating it.

I am still a practising interpreter, which informs my research and my teaching. And I think I’m a better interpreter because I’m a researcher. So if you’re thinking about it, I’d recommend it, as you’ll benefit from it on a whole lot of levels!

Author: Jemina Napier