PhDeaf vlogcast episode 1: choosing a PhD topic

By Mette Sommer, Sanchayeeta Iyer and Ine Martens, in International Sign

English summary

How/why did you pick your PhD topic, what made you decide to focus on your topic?

Sanchu (3rd year PhD researcher) was employed as a research assistant by the MobileDeaf project and worked with Dr. Steve Emery on examining deaf migrants in London. When she was offered a PhD about this topic she seized the opportunity. The PhD topic was already decided: deaf migrants. However, during her data collection and in compiling the literature review, Sanchu found that gendered aspects of deaf migrants’ experiences was an underexamined research field. This fact helped her decide to focus on female deaf migrants from India in London, and how they develop their gendered identities.

Ine (first year PhD researcher) worked with a similar topic during their MA thesis, namely female migrants who moved to Belgium (where they is from) for a love relationship. When Heriot-Watt University announced four different possible PhD topics, Ine contacted the supervisors and discussed which topics they could focus on. Although Ine were interested in building further on their MA thesis, Ine felt it was not their place to pursue this topic, because Ine was not a migrant herself. Ine wanted to focus on something that is a part of their own lived experience, for example being queer, and thus decided to focus on queer deaf peoples’ homes in London, and possibly a second city. Since then, their topic has become more narrowed and now they focus on deaf lesbian women and their homes and networks in London.

Mette (recently submitted her PhD after 4,5 years of study) applied for a PhD topic decided by her supervisors from Heriot-Watt University: deaf people and employment. About six months into her PhD journey she decided to focus on a more specific area: deaf business ownership. Doing a review of the literature and participating in the Innovation in Deaf Studies Conference inspired her to on to focus on deaf spaces in work contexts, and she went on to explore deaf centered work organisations such as deaf owned businesses.

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