Blog post

When does it finish?

Published on
August 18, 2017

When you are in the lucky position that you have just defended your PhD thesis, you may think that all efforts around your PhD are finally finished.

You spent hours, days, weeks, months, years on literature research, data collection, data analysis, interpretation of results and writing-up. As well as on trying new methods/trying to get enough research articipants/trying to make valuable additions to existing theory. Failing, trying again, failing again. Finding results which require extra research, etc. But when you publish your PhD thesis and have defended it in public, you would think all the work is done. Euhm… Wrong.

I defended my PhD thesis in August 2015, after about five years of hard work. It’s only today, two years later, that my PhD is really finished. Just very recently, I got the message that the last paper of my thesis has been published, titled ‘Cultural echoes in Dutch immigrants’ and non-immigrants’ understandings and values of nature’. In this paper I, with my co-authors, describe differences and similarities between Dutch young adults of Chinese, Turkish and non-immigrant descent in how they understand and value nature. The paper shows that how people perceive nature differs between ethnic groups, even though the immigrants interviewed spent (most of) their youth in the Netherlands. For example, non-immigrants mostly had strict boundaries to define how green areas qualify as nature, while Chinese immigrants expressed a more inclusive idea of nature. Also the reasons to conserve nature differed between ethnic groups. Turkish immigrants often articulated eco-centric and religious reasons to conserve nature, while Chinese immigrants stood out as more often mentioning anthropocentric reasons such as ‘useful for human beings’ or ‘for my own use and recreation’. While this paper is based on a chapter in my PhD research, because of the (long) review procedure, it evolved from it and became stronger.

So now I all invite you celebrate with me that my PhD is finally really finished (after you have read this paper)! Or maybe not. Maybe, my PhD is stil not finished. As this paper forms valuable input for what I do now at the Dutch National Forest Service (Staatsbosbeheer), where together with
my colleagues, I try to make (recreation in) green areas even more colourful and inclusive. Maybe, a PhD just continues for the rest of your life…

Re:actions 1

  • Cathrien de Pater

    Thanks for your warning to starting PhD students, Marjolein:) And also thanks for your valuable paper. Not only in the Netherlands, but also outside in the world I've seen a wide spectre of nature visions underlaid by religion,
    culture, ecology, economy etc. - lots of questions for further research!