Calling yourself Dr.

So, my immediate question to myself upon reading my awesome email from the Grad School was this: when do I get to call myself Dr?

This is only important for the three months prior to calling yourself Dr when you’re desperate to get the degree conferred and the year or so after getting the Dr tag when you’re desperate to show it off. In my case, I need to know when I can call myself Dr so when I apply for loans, official documents, jobs, and other such nonsense people take me seriously. (As a 40-something-year-old woman, I am deeply distressed by the ongoing sexism inherent in our society which invariably determines that my husband’s sex, name and status is greater than my own, and that I have little to no legitimacy when buying a house or car, borrowing money or stating an opinion. Banks are particularly guilty of this sexism, as are car people. Cars and houses are about the most expensive assets/liabilities you will own and them that run the banks and car yards still seem to think I am unable to manage 1/ a car, 2/ a budget, 3/ signing stuff. I’m not sure my status will change very much given that as a woman I’m still a second class citizen, but I’m willing to give it a red hot go. Let’s see if anything changes. I know my DH is dying to call me his partner Dr O’B. He has even started calling me his partner and colleague when in polite company. I like this, because it raises my status from wife to academic, and we all know this is really important, amirite?!)

Also, and I think every Dr of Philosophy (and other) would agree with this, the doctoral journey is such a bloody hard one that the title is deserved in every way. But everyone else thinks the Dr title is a bit of a wank (everyone else who’s not working in academia tends not to appreciate the stupid amount of work that goes into getting this degree. Gardeners don’t get it. Chefs probably don’t get it. Certainly students don’t get it – they think it’s definitely a wank, but then they think everyone who is 5 years or more older than them is ancient and near death).

Aaanyway, so I think to myself, I’m sure there’s an answer somewhere about this. I’ll Google it. But before I Google it (or Bing it), I think to myself, I might just check and see if my alma mater says anything about it. I don’t really think they will, but hey, it’s worth checking at the source. So I get onto the Grad School website, and lo and behold, there it is, clearly a FAQ at the bottom of the thesis examination information: When can I be called a Dr?

The answer: If you are a PhD candidate you are able to use “Dr” once your degree has been conferred by the university.  The conferral process generally occurs within 10 days of receiving notification from the Graduate School that you have met degree requirements.

It’s still 2 weeks until I meet with my supervisors about my corrections (wot I have already done). I have a feeling they will sign off then and there as I meet this criteria:

Changes – Changes are required as indicated in examiners reports and are checked by the Chair of Examiners. Three (3) months are given for these changes to be made.

Then the thesis goes through this process:

If you are required to make changes to your thesis after its initial review, upload a copy of your corrected thesis to the university eSpace along with a list of the changes made. The Graduate School will forward these documents to your School/Institute for review by the Chair of Examiners, the Principal Advisor and the Postgraduate Coordinator. When the thesis has been reviewed and the revisions assessed as satisfactory, your School will forward a completed Recommendation to Confer Degree form to the Graduate School.

So, I will be able to make some further minor corrections to the thesis when I see my supervisors, but I’m not sure it will be wanted. I’ve already ticked off all the boxes and done the revisions. It’s made the thesis better.

This means that on the 2nd February or near to it I will upload the amended thesis, the list of corrections, and I’m pretty sure forms will be signed as quickly as humanly possible so that the School of Music can be rid of me once and for all.

So I think I will be able to call myself Dr sometime in March. That’s my forecast. The most peculiar thing about this process is that over the years I’ve had an ongoing nightmare: what if I die and my thesis is unfinished, or I lose all my data, or I lose all my words, or I’m on a plane crash and have to try and save my computer because it has all my data on it? These nightmares are real: they have happened to people I know. Well, maybe not the plane crash, but it’s possible.

Now I have worked out many ways to save my data short of printing it out, and about 10 people have copies of my thesis. I have a DropBox account which I LOVE, and flash drives are still good in a pinch. But now, I don’t care as much about saving my Very Important Work. It’s just not important enough. I’ve moved on. Which means, I guess, I deserve the Dr title very much.


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