PhD Diary: Gerry Sutton, UCC

Contributed by Gerry Sutton, UCC

Do you consider your PhD to be a job or a vocation?
What a question. My PhD was certainly not job in the conventional sense but it was hard work to motivate oneself. Passion and the burning desire to answer the questions and goals I set myself kept me going.

In 20 words or less tell us why you decided to do a PhD? To answer the seemingly unanswerable!

Gerry’s Diary: What a slog! Working full time and researching has been intense to say the least. My thesis has definitely been a labour of love that was born out of a small kernel of interest in the workings of landlord and tenant. Now, I’m attempting the impossible- justifying landlords actions!

Getting into the libraries and archives is my escape. I love to get my head buried in books and records for hours on end, often ignoring the protestations of my hunger pangs. My enduring memory of my PhD won’t be my grade, or the detail or even the topic- it will the enduring support of an amazing supervisor whom I humbly count as a friend, the sense of achievement at finally (FINALLY) being done and it will of course be about finding answers.

As I approach the sunset of my PhD (I am at present finishing my revisions) I will also vividly remember my Viva, an experience which at the time I did not fully appreciate. The interrogation and questioning of ones integrity, hard work and sacrifice may seem like an ordeal but with the benefit of hindsight (couldn’t resist!), I came to recognise that my Viva represented all that is great about researching and writing history- criticism, debate, passion and disagreement thrown in for good measure.

The PhD, the big P as we call it at home is something that I will always cherish for the rich experiences that it has given me and also the hard lessons along the way. Dust yourself off; pick yourself up and march on!

God, I can’t wait to be finished.

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6 Responses to “PhD Diary: Gerry Sutton, UCC”

  1. Peter Hart Says:

    Most interesting, and a terrific series, but why not say something about the actual topics being worked on? Presumably of great interest to readers, and even useful for the writers/interviewees, as it might lead to new contacts in the community. Just a suggestion.

    • puesoccurrences Says:

      Dear Peter,

      Thank you for your comment and based on your suggestion we are going to add in the student’s working title and institution as standard from now on. The reason that we haven’t been asking them about their topics is because we didn’t want them to become dissertation abstracts, more a record of the process. Your point about making contacts is noted and I hope that a working title and institution will be a step in that direction. We would encourage any PhD students to pitch us articles directly related to their research. We just conceive of the PhD diary as something different. Thanks again for the comment,


  2. Peter Hart Says:

    Hi Juliana:

    Fair enough re. abstract avoidance, but even a title would be good, thanks. Its very unfortunate that (as far as I know) Ireland and the UK have no equivalent to the invaluable Proquest dissertation database, which allows North Americans to check out a vast quantity of on-line grad research and writing.


  3. Anon Says:


    Check out British Library’s Ethos initiative, where many PhD theses from the UK are being digitised and may be available for download!!

    I agree with Gerry that it is a personal decision whether you choose to include your thesis topic or not in the diary, although it would make it easier for the more curious reader to understand your story. Not giving any factual information does leave a lot to the imagination..


  4. My PhD Diary on Pue’s Occurences | gerrysuttonhistory Says:

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    PhD Diary: Gerry Sutton, UCC | Pue’s Occurrences

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