I am a student. I am writing papers and documenting research in the area of professional development. My goal is to achieve an outcome from a period of learning and investigation that both appears interesting and meets the academic requirements as set by my supervisors.
I am employed. I sometimes write papers to describe situations and propose solutions. My goal is to trigger an action that will result in an improved outcome for those who I can support through what I do.
When we set out on a career, we arrive in a position that we hope feels beneficial to those around us. Through that journey, we can get a little jaded when the inertia of our work environment appears to prevent us achieving a goal.
In research, we can feel that we want to invent the better mousetrap or solve the issue of starvation. When it comes down to it, the real goal is to meet an academic outcome, sometimes after a long period of time.
My current is limited to work within a timeframe of months. For PhD candidates, their work can take years. I imagine it can be very difficult to sustain enthusiasm through that path, particularly when the realisation arises that this path will not result in the better mousetrap after all.
I have been reading an excellent book that describes the various stages in this path and emphasises the point that the better mousetrap comes about AFTER the PhD goal has been reached. Please see Phillips & Pugh (2010).
Now I just have to hope I do well enough to find out what they mean.
Phillips, E & Pugh, DS 2010, How To Get A Phd : A Handbook for Students and Their Supervisors, Open University Press, Maidenhead, <http://deakin.eblib.com.au/patron/FullRecord.aspx?p=650312>.