The Doctor Sheryn Pitman Session

In this session, Dr Sheryn Pitman talks to Steph and Tamara about the diversity of her role as the Program Manager of Inspiring South Australia, how she marries creative writing and ecological literacy, how ecologically literate people are, and about eating blueberry pie in American diners while she built rapport with some of the gurus in her field.

More and more this world is calling out for qualities that are not specific minutia of how to do a certain thing, it is calling for people with emotional fortitude and compassion and communication skills and a whole raft of things you don’t necessarily learn through taking a subject at a university. From that point of view, I am really glad I did my arts degree first because it gave me a broader sort of engagement with the world, before I focussed in further


Listen to the Interview with Dr Sheryn Pitman



Q&A with Dr Pitman…

What is the title of your PhD: Ecological literacy: An assessment of the ecological knowledge and understanding of South Australian adults

Where did you complete your PhD: University of South Australia

What year did you graduate: 2015

What undergraduate degree/s have you completed: Bachelor of Arts; Grad Dip in Education; Master of Environmental Studies

What is your job title, today: Programme Manager Inspiring South Australia

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Transcription

Interview with Dr Sheryn Pitman

Tamara – Today we’re talking to Doctor Sharon Pitman who completed her thesis at the University of South Australia in 2015. Her project, entitled “Ecological Literacy, An Assessment of the Ecological Knowledge and Understanding of South Australian Adults” combined her passion for the Arts and Sciences to inform, enrich and engage communities in ecological literacy. Sheryn has a multidisciplinary background in Environmental Management, Community Engagement, Education, Creative Writing, and communication. Previously she managed the South Australian Green Infrastructure project to integrate the planning and design of green spaces and water systems that underpinned the health and sustainability of towns and cities, and she’s also worked for several years with Greening Australia engaging communities in landscape rehabilitation and habitat restoration. These days you will find her at the office of Inspiring SA, who are the sponsors of our project. And she is located on North Terrace and Adelaide. Welcome Sheryn. Thank you for coming.

Sheryn – Thank you very much.

Steph – To kick us off just so we can sort of situate our listeners. What is your current role right now and what does your day look like?

Sheryn – My current role is as the State Manager of the Inspiring SA Program. It’s a national project. Well, it’s a National Initiative from the federal government to engage communities with science and improve science literacy. Each state has a different iteration of that program. And here, the three major universities, the state government, the federal government, and the South Australian Museum have come together to implement the program in South Australia. That’s the role, which I’ve been in for over 4 and a half years now. It’s a very interesting role. Um, my day now. Do we mention COVID-19?

Steph – Maybe your typical day.

Sheryn – I oversee National Science Week, which is the National Science festival that happens every August in Australia. So, I oversee that for South Australia.  We run us a series of grant programs that fund community groups and organisations to deliver events and activities that engage communities in science and also in regional SA so that they’re engaging in local science that’s relevant to them.

We do some innovative grant programs like our science, arts collaboration grants where we get arts and science groups and Organisations and individuals to come together to tell the stories of Science in different ways. We do science for early childhood programs through our library Public Library system. We really interested in under engaged audiences. We don’t really do a lot with schools because they have a curriculum. So under-engaged audiences. And then, you know, we do quite a lot of communications around all of that as well. So, my normal day is a mix of all sorts of things.

Steph – Not just sitting in front of a computer. Going to meetings, engaging with stakeholders.

Sheryn – Yes, and sometimes back in the good old days flying to regional areas and you know, assisting them and help helping them set up things. So yeah, it a very diverse and interesting life.

Tamara – Sounds like a great job. We want to go back to when you’re younger and when we want to know whether or not you are the 1st in your generation to go to University or did your parents go to University?

Sheryn – I was the oldest of five children. Four of the five have been to University and 2 have PhDs, but my parents didn’t. My father did go to Roseworthy College to study agriculture for a while, but not really. Not, you know, in a sense of….

Steph – So you’re sort of leading the way for your siblings and….

Sheryn – Well, I guess so I guess. So yeah, there were very educated parents but not University educated so much.

Steph – Did you know University was something you wanted to do when you were a kid?

Sheryn – Well, I was kind of told that that’s what I would be doing so.  Yes, it was valued.

Steph – Did you know what you wanted to do for at University?

Sheryn – No, when I was very young I started being a creative writer and I thought probably I would be a writer for all of my life and I still love writing, especially creative writing although I have done a lot of all of the other kinds of you know. So, I did an arts degree at University to start with. But you know, I studied politics and history and English and those sorts of things. I did get into law arts, which I wished I had done because then I could have been an environmental lawyer by now, which would be pretty cool, but I don’t know. People convinced me that law was going to be too dry for me and I was too creative, and I listened, and I perhaps shouldn’t have. But anyway, then I did a graduate diploma in education. I was also not so much interested in teaching, which I then did for five years, but I was interested in creation in creating resources for children and for schools. And therefore, I thought having an education degree might be useful, which it was. So they were my first 2 sessions at University.

Steph – And did you go to University straight after high school?

Sheryn – Straight after. In those days gap years weren’t really a thing and I had no money. I wouldn’t know what to do anyway. So I went straight to University.

Steph – And then from your bachelors you went straight into your teaching?

Sheryn – A year or two later.

Sheryn – I became a playwright in residence with a children’s Theatre Company for a while and I did start working a lot on the creative writing work, which was great.

Tamara – Understanding the kids as well, I suppose, and you get to immerse yourself in that. It kind of helps you to learn the language of the kids.

Sheryn – Yes, even though I was almost just one myself, you know things change really quickly and also there is great diversity in Education Forums which you know you need to learn about, I think. But I loved children. I love the way children’s minds create things and so I think that was my interest there in in writing and creative writing and children’s theatre. And, you know, I wrote novels and things like that.

Steph –

Then, after that you were a teacher for a while?

Sheryn – I did teach, but it wasn’t my passion and I wasn’t very good at it.

Steph – Little kids?

Sheryn – No, secondary school and I wasn’t very good at it. I was great with the kids who wanted to be there, but I was no good at babysitting the ones who didn’t. I wasn’t one of those fantastic teachers you see in movies who can get all that kind of stuff? Yeah, I just wasn’t.

Steph – I do hear that high school teaching can sometimes be more classroom management than.

Sheryn – Look, I was in 11 schools in five years and often given the classes nobody wanted as a contract teacher and it sort of put me off but not look I just wasn’t very good at it and I knew that wasn’t where I should stay.

Steph – So then after five years of teaching then PhD.

Sheryn – No goodness no. Then I was back into writing and  then having children and so I was working from home as a writer for a long-time and my passion for nature in the natural world started to bubble up and I thought I really want to do a Masters in environmental studies or environmental science. So, I did that. I loved it. And partway through that is when I got my job at Greening Australia, which was full time for a number of years, and going, you know, straight into the industry of environmental management and environmental conservation so yeah, PhD wasn’t a thing then.

Tamara – So did your desire to work in that field, do you think it came from your dad because he said your dad did agricultural.

Sheryn –  No. It just came from our lifestyle. We grew up with nature. We grew up in a in a big garden with lots of trees always being at the tops of the trees. We spent a lot of time upon the River Murray, where my great uncle had a farm and we spent a lot of time at the beach so I just grew to love the natural world and I think I grew to love the natural world more than I liked the people world.

Steph – Well, if you spend enough time around teenagers, that will happen.

Sheryn – Yeah, so that informed like I think my career path a great deal that love of nature and then what to do with it. 

Tamara – Yeah, very multidisciplinary background, isn’t it?

Steph – You’ve got this whole pathway before you even get to your PhD. What made you decide to do that?

Sheryn – I then worked at the Botanic Gardens of South Australia for many years, managing sustainability programs and green infrastructure programs. And during that time…. look, something just happened, and I just felt this need bubbling up. You know to do further study. I don’t know why you do that when your kids are still young and you’re working full time…

Steph – The university is a cult that sucks you back in….

Sheryn – I was working with some great people and I thought, yeah, yeah, I really want to do this for some reason and my supervisor was a friend who I worked with or a colleague I should say. So we worked closely together an I just got inspired to take it a bit further. So then one day we just said, Yep gonna happen.

Steph – So you came into your PhD with an idea of what you wanted to investigate?

Sheryn – Yeah, so I had been doing in my work. I did a lot of research into environmental science issues. You know generally and sustainability issues and I had come across a concept that I hadn’t really heard of before, that was bigger in the US called Ecological Literacy and I took that to my supervisor colleague and I said I want to do this and he said to me no, you don’t. You want to do this, and I said no, I don’t want to do this. So we had a bit of an argy-bargy but he said I’ve never even heard of it and I said, well, let me tell you what I know. It might be interesting. Anyway, I did look at ecological literacy, which is the knowledge and understanding of how nature works basically and how human and environmental and natural systems connect in the interface with human society and it’s understanding how those things actually work in order to be able to make more sustainable decisions about how we live and I really wanted to look at how ecologically literate our community was. You know, how much did we know about how nature works? And who knew? So, I became and I’m still passionate about.

Steph – Do you mean the layperson, the regular public? Or do you mean academics?

Sheryn – No, nothing to do with academics, just people in the community. We make countless decisions every day, every week, every year, about how to live and if they’re not informed, well informed, about you know how the systems, the life support systems look after us? How can we live in sustainable ways in the future, especially with so many people on this earth? So that was my passionate thing and my supervisor got into it. He got right into it and it was the best thing.

Tamara – So did you find that people had, like where were their levels of literacy generally?

Sheryn – Look the self-selected sample and my sample was self-selected because what I was asking of people wasn’t going to be undertaken by people who weren’t a little bit interested. I showed that there’s certain factors, certain sociodemographic factors, and certain psychographic factors which would contribute potentially to a greater level of ecological knowledge and understanding, and you know they’re not rocket science, but you know people, for example, who grew up grow up in small towns or villages and are much more connected to their landscapes and their systems and their communities had much higher levels then people who lived in cities or in very large towns.

Steph – Which seems very logical.

Sheryn – People in in the middle age groups, not the students who are studying things, but people in the middle age groups tended to be a lot higher. People who regularly volunteered in environmental pursuits were extremely high compared with those who never did.  There’s all sorts of factors…

Steph – That might give somebody good….

Sheryn – One of them is one of them shocked me enormously when I found it, and that is that males were significantly higher than females. Now there’s two reasons for that if you’re interested. One is that – our sample was over 18 and so they were all adults and the thinking is that as children, boys always in the past tended to roam more, tended to be allowed out of the house more, tended to get on their bikes and go and explore more and were exposed to their local environments where there were vacant blocks and creeks and you know, scrub lands and all sorts of places to explore.  Whereas girls tended to be kept closer to the home, but that was one part of the thinking and another is that at school, boys tended to study more of the science based subjects, so the point about studying science based subjects is that they encourage systems thinking and to understand how nature works. You really have to think in systems. So we did find that students who studied even just at high school some science subjects, and then never went on to do any further study were much higher, like significantly higher in the ecological knowledge and understanding than those who didn’t study any science based subjects at school, so it’s the science based subject I think that generate or encourage or facilitate systems thinking was a very interesting finding. So there’s lots of you know there was lots of things that came out of it that are really interesting.

Steph – Just to bring it back, your PhD was ecological literacy, an assessment of the ecological knowledge and understanding of South Australian adults. So, what exactly did your project entail? Like? What was the question you were trying to answer? And how did you answer it?

Sheryn – Oh my gosh, I’d have to look back up my PhD manuscript for questions I was trying to answer but look it. I think I was – I was looking at what are the factors that underlie ecological literacy. What are the characteristics of the more ecologically literate people and the least ecologically literate people? How can we improve the ecological literacy of our communities? I did it by doing a lot of research into this subject from overseas. I actually took a trip to the US for three weeks where five of the gurus lived in different parts of the US, which was brilliant to go and interview them and talk to them. And it was fascinating because on each occasion there’s somebody coming from Australia and they don’t know who this someone is and they don’t know if this someone is, you know, bona fide or worth talking to so on each occasion I was taken to a diner to suss me out before I was then invited to their house to have a proper conversation. So that was great. So, in each case we got past the diner.

Tamara – But you learned all about diners

Sheryn – And blueberry pie…

Steph – You scoped out the literature. You interviewed people?

Sheryn – I did. Look at was going to be a mixed methods PhD with both quantitative and qualitative research, but what happens – and I think it does happen a bit is that you undertake the quantitative and suddenly you’ve got too much data. Then you don’t need to go any further and as much as you really want to because it’s not finished, they say no, do that another day so I didn’t go further. I did interview people, but that that material is still sitting there. It’s the quantitative data formed the main research.

Steph – And you were trying to develop a way of identifying people with poor literacy, and then how to help them?

Sheryn – Yes, more on a community wide scale, I think, not for individuals but looking at what are the pathways. Our latest paper which has only come out this year in March has put together the learnings from that which took that long to drop out, you know, from my head to sort of process all the things that were learned and how we might be able to put them together into five pathways for communities or societies to achieve a greater level of ecological knowledge and understanding.

I never planned that that’s what we were looking to do develop pathways for that, but that’s what came out of it in the end. You know the whole PhD process begins as something and ends as something else and a few years later, it connects.

Tamara – I think once don’t have that pressure of submitting a thesis; once that pressure is gone then maybe you start seeing the forest, not just the trees.

Sheryn – Yeah, well, that’s right. And I couldn’t publish during my PhD because I was working full time as well. Although they did give me 5 hours a week to study which was generous, so I had Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. And then I worked the other four days long hours so I couldn’t publish as well. Every time someone said publish as you go, I said ah yeah, you can jump on your head. It’s not gonna happen. That’s not happening.

Tamara – So what do you think, was the most challenging aspect of your PhD?

Sheryn – I think mine was purely about time. Look, you know you have the bumps along the way… You suddenly realize – you do a three-day statistics course and you still don’t understand how to do it and you have to get more help and you know that’s all quite challenging. But I think time was my biggest issue. Just because I was working and just trying to find time and try not to take too long.

Steph – So while working at the same time because some PhDs are able to be done or people are able to free up full time study, but was there an advantage, though, to also having a foot in the outside world, and not just living in your PhD?

Sheryn – Yeah, I think so.  I think I enjoyed it. You know, I think I enjoyed having well, other things would come my way. You know other opportunities would come my way which fed into my PhD and

my work and my PhD was somewhat related. So yeah, I think it was an advantage.

Steph – What were strategies for getting around the challenge of not having a lot of time to dedicate so you are able to not be so separate from your working life, so that’s an advantage. But, how did you? Well, I suppose, how long did you take to do your PhD?

Sheryn – It took exactly 5 years.

Steph – Which is pretty good as a part time PhD.

Sheryn – It felt like a long, long time, but looking back it wasn’t too bad.

Steph – Yeah, so how did you manage it? How are you balancing full time work essentially with your part time study and also having a family and a life.

Sheryn – Well, the family now let me think how old were they then? I think they were in their early 20s so they were OK. They could look after themselves and be independent and probably.

Tamara – They were able feed themselves.

Sheryn – Yeah, probably moving in and moving back out moving in. I don’t know. Working, studying doing all the things that you know young women do. So I was relatively freed up from caring for people, so that was, you know, that made it possible, and I think because now we are talking a few years ago now, I started when I was 50. I wouldn’t want to start when I was 60. My brain is too tired to do PhD although maybe it could, but like I go, I’m so glad I did it then.  But it would, but it was just sort of being very disciplined about.

Steph – You had to do it when you had the time.

Sheryn – I had to do it when I had the time. I didn’t have choices about that. There’d be beautiful summer days when family was down on the beach, swimming and laughing and playing and walking and I would be sitting inside working, which really did annoy me, but it had to be done.

Steph – So, knowing what you know now, would you do it again?

Sheryn – Oh absolutely, it was absolutely – apart from having my family, my children – it’s the best journey I’ve ever had. It was fantastic. It’s very diverse. It moves along all the time. It’s never the same one month to the next almost, you know. And you think, Oh my God, I can’t do this for years and years, but then it changes. Then you’re doing some other aspect or you’re dealing with some other challenge, or you’re researching something else that came up that you didn’t know you had to research, like how to ask questions. Oh my God, I just thought I could ask questions, but no, there is a lot of work on how do I fit so you suddenly and then learning how to analyse data and it just moves and moves and moves and it was a fantastic journey for me.

Tamara – So, you talked about how your research led to these pathways that for communities to live within the environment in a sustainable way. Is this being picked up by councils? Or how do you know if they’ve had a reach? You’ve only really published this year haven’t you?

Sheryn – It well, but that’s only just come out and relatively recently.

Tamara – Is that the reason why your research was important do you think?

Sheryn – Look, I think, so. I’ve always felt it…. So I’ve been of critical importance. To me it’s a really important thing, but there’s so much so many really important things going on out there that it hasn’t been picked up in a major way, but then I haven’t pushed it and I haven’t really been able to afford Open Access publishing so that also makes a difference.

Steph – Yes, for those of the listeners who maybe don’t know publishing is expensive. Totally can be hundreds of dollars.

Tamara – And you don’t get paid for it.

Sheryn – Well, this paper, if it had gone Open Access in in Austral Ecology, was going to be $2,000 to $3000. So you know I just don’t have that sort of money and I’m You know, I don’t know, it’s just difficult so you have to find other ways of then starting to promote things. It is very challenging and then you put all of this effort into writing up your information in ways that that will reach communities, groups, societies, organisations. And you really don’t know you put it out there, but you don’t know.  You know it takes years to get lots and lots and lots of citations even, but then you really don’t know if it’s making an impact, and that’s – That’s challenging, not knowing and not really being confident that really this passionate thing that you put so much effort into and other people have too, is even making an impact. So thats challenging.

Steph – So if you look in rather than out, So what impact is doing a PhD being for you? So what skills have you developed? Do you take them onto your current role?

Sheryn – Well. Absolutely patience. The research skills and being much more critical of what you read and where it’s come from, and you know who’s reviewed it, and so those sorts of skills, being much more rigorous, and I guess, comprehensive in your dealing with information.

Steph – Yeah, there’s nothing like a PhD degree to ruin your enjoyment of a newspaper.

Sheryn – Yeah, this is a thing. But the skills, understanding the different journeys that people have and realizing that you know, like life is very, very challenging for a lot of people, for a lot of different reasons and um, the study experience isn’t always as good as mine. You know. I have learned that, but I’ve taken a lot of skills into my work and you know, my work has also allowed me platforms to be able to talk about these things so yeah, it’s been good.

Steph – So going to America, speaking at conferences?

Sheryn – I speak at quite a few conferences, and the concept of Science, Literacy, Science Engagement and understanding how Nature Works is really becoming quite important, so yeah.

Tamara – Well, we’re running out of space on this planet, so we really need to learn how to live in it properly, don’t we? I really hope your paper reaches the orders audiences it needs to. You were already working, so you didn’t really have a first job after your PhD because you’re already working in a space that you wanted to be in, is it where you imagined you would be, not necessarily when you commenced your PhD, but even earlier, maybe when you were doing your undergraduate degrees. Is this where you thought you would end up?

Sheryn – I have never in my life had a life plan. Now that I have followed the river and I have trusted that it will take me, you know, my decisions will be informed by both my heart and my head and it will take me to a place that suits me. Look, that hasn’t always been the case, but I didn’t know what I would be doing professionally or work wise. I really had no idea and after I finished my PhD, the current job that I’m doing came up which is about improving science literacy. So it was closely aligned and I thought, well, this is, this is kinda good.  And I got that job and I’ve, you know, really enjoyed it and done well in it so, um, who knows what next? I look, I really never know and I’m a bit of an opportunist. Like something will come something will happen. Yeah, it always does.

Tamara – You get that feeling I get. I sometimes get that feeling that something good is about to come. So that’s my guide.

Steph – So, knowing what you know now about your PhD or what a PhD is, would you do it again?

Sheryn – Yeah, I’d do it again. But, maybe…

Steph – Would you have done it earlier?

Sheryn – No, for me I did it at the right time. I had life experience. I had lots of work experience and I did it. I did it not because there was any reason to do it other than I really wanted to do it. I didn’t have to do it. There wasn’t something waiting at the end of it for me. It wasn’t going to be my ticket to something. I think it has been a ticket to things, but you know, there was no plan that that would was how it was going to be. It was just something that I became really interested in doing and I did it.

Steph – You had the time and space and…

Sheryn – Well, I hardly had the time.

Tamara – You carved out the time.

Sheryn – Yeah, I carved out the time, yeah, made it a priority is what you do don’t you? When things are tight?

Tamara – Yes, yes you absolutely do. Would you be where you are, do you think, without your PhD?

Sheryn –  No, probably not, no. I think it’s been…. I think it has moved me along in the right, in a good direction. I don’t think I probably would have got the job I have without it. I think it probably helped with that. You never know, of course, but I’m really, really pleased that I have it. I’ve tried using it on airlines to get an upgrade. It’s never worked, but you know, it has other advantages.

Steph – This is always a bit of a tricky question, but what is a PhD? Because you said it’s not a ticket.

Sheryn – No, it’s a process of discovery and learning.  I think it’s a journey in which you learn an enormous amount. In which you deal with challenges in which you grow. You learn particular skills. You learn a bit about yourself if you didn’t know it already. So, and then at the end of it, you’ve done a big thing. But the skills you’ve learned along the way and the rigor. The rigor that’s necessary to be really well informed on something I think is a really important lesson. I think you learn that you know something so well all of a sudden. They say that for a few minutes in the world, you’re the most knowledgeable person on that one subject. So you know how hard it is to learn something really, really well, and you can’t expect everyone around you to know that thing really, really well. So you have to be, you know, you learn that lesson on what’s involved in becoming really well versed on one particular issue.

Tamara – It is nice to have that level of knowledge even if you well for me, I’ve never really used except my PhD is on acne and I’ve got a 15-year-old daughter and she doesn’t even want to admit that I know more than she does. Anyway, I digress. So for people who are thinking about a PhD when they’ve come to the end of their undergraduate degree, what sort of advice would you have for somebody who may be thinking about it. Given that at the moment, I think that they said something like about 11,000 students graduate with a PhD in Australia every year. And someone is thinking about it. Is it a good time to be doing a PhD or?

Sheryn – Look, I think people do PhDs for many different reasons. For some is going to be their ticket to work and income and providing for their families etc. For some it’s just an interest or it’s a passion or for some it’s part of a particular life path that they’ve set out for themselves, part of a continuum. I don’t think there’s any one answer. I would just say to people, you know, do it if you really want to do it and you’re really prepared to put in that effort. But I wouldn’t do it thinking that it’s a ticket to some wonderful job or any guaranteed place because it’s not it’s really there’s so many PHD’s as you say. So what and who cares – it’s then what you do with it? It’s then what journey you go on after that, that matters. So of course, undertake it and make it matter. And make it useful and enjoy it. If you suffer with it, I’ll be sad for you because it’s a big part of your life.

Tamara – It’s a massive part of your life.

Sheryn – Yeah, but it’s what you do with it afterwards that matters.

Tamara – There is a certain amount of suffering in there, but it’s not a, it’s sort of fleeting, I suppose…

Steph – Childbirth.

Sheryn – Well, I’ve likened it a bit because it’s like this thing that can’t go back, you know? Its coming, and you know, once you’re on that journey, you’re on that journey and difficult and challenging and painful as it can be, it’s happening.

Tamara – But you get to the end and you forget about the pain.

Steph – So, you’ve had a circuitous journey through your undergrad and your teaching and then your careers and then to a PhD. Do you have any advice for people who might be entering into University or making plans to enter into University about knowing about what your career path is going to look like?

Sheryn – I think it’s very difficult to know. I mean, if you look at mine I’ve done, it’s been crooked. I’ve gone all over the place and I’ve done lots of different things. In a sense, they’ve got relationship with each other, but you know, it’s definitely not a linear pathway, so I would only advise people to do what you like or love. Do some of what you like or love. Do some of what you think is going to be really useful to you. And don’t be afraid to challenge yourself by taking on the things that you aren’t that comfortable with as well. But to me it’s about a balance. If you do some of everything. If you only do the things that you’re only good at and you know this world is calling more and more for qualities that are not specific minutiae of how to do a certain thing? It’s calling for people with emotional fortitude and compassion and communication skills and a whole raft of things that you don’t necessarily learn through taking a subject at a University. So, from that point of view, I think it’s great. I’m really glad I did my arts degree first because it gave me that broader, broader sort of engagement with the world before I focused in further. Along the way, I think it’s good to be broad in your learning and not focus too tightly, or if you do focus tightly for some reason, to also engage with more worldly subjects, that takes you out other things. Yeah, that teach you other things.

Tamara – And so finally, this brings us to oh, actually, no one more question I’ve got before we get to the final, final question, is where abouts is your thesis today?

Steph – Where is the where is it physically located?

Sheryn – I’ve got to have a couple of copies at my house. There should be one in the University of South Australia. We should be online on the University of South Australia.  

Tamara – Or is it any of them holding up monitors or doorstops? Or are they? Are they on?

Sheryn – The ones I know of which the ones in my house are not holding up anything there wrapped carefully and keeping the moths out.  No, I look it up quite often. In writing my papers I referred to it a lot.

Steph – Oh yeah, because you’re still a little immersed in it.

Sheryn – Well, I’ve only just written published the 5th paper out of it, and that’s probably the final one. But you know, it’s been five years of publishing since I finished.  So I’m often referring to it and then sometimes. I think to myself let me let me go back and have another look at what I wrote. Let me see if it was any good. Let me look at it and I go back. And I read it and I go, Bloody hell that was fantastic. I couldn’t do it now; I am so glad I did it then.

Tamara – Oh, yeah. I have done that I have looked at it and gone, oh, wow. That was really good! And so, finally, have you heard any myths or misconceptions that you would like to set the record straight on about doing a PhD or about life as an academic. What have you heard?

Sheryn – I think I have already talked about the things that I think are myths, like, it is a ticket to something or a guaranteed ticket to something. The other thing is I think people go into it thinking it is going to be a relatively simple, straight forward linear thing, and I think that is a myth. It is actually a journey with so many ups and downs and circular processes and sideways alleys, and it is important, I think, to go into it without the expectation that it is going to be straight, linear and you are going to pop out the other end and not be changed. You will be changed. And hopefully for the better.

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