Current student

Renee is a Doctoral Researcher currently in her third year of her PhD in Political Communication.

I’m researching about the role of Facebook influencers in shaping the narrative of the Rodrigo Duterte era in the Philippines. I’m looking at how they disseminate information/narratives through different rhetorical devices and also how much incivility, intolerance, and hate speech they use.

Why I chose Loughborough University for my PhD

I was looking for a university that had a strong media and communications research and Loughborough came as one of the top universities in the field. When I was looking at the website, I found that there was an interest in digital media research and that many of the new fellowships were about researching websites and social media channels like YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter. I thought my research topic fit in, and add to that, I found my supervisor, Dominic Wring, who also thought my topic is relevant and agreed to supervise me.

I enjoy the fact that there are so many doctoral researchers who are interested in the same field of research as I do and that I can exchange ideas with them. I think at the moment digital media research is still a niche topic and not many universities have a dedicated research centre for it.

Student life as a PhD student

Each day is different (or can also be the same as the last). I think each day depends on what stage you are in of your PhD. Currently, it is a mix of data analysis and writing. There are also days when I give lectures/presentations in conferences or in other universities. But that’s not before I eat my breakfast and drink a cup of tea. Working from home also means I get to cuddle my cats in between and check my plants when I need a break.

I also enjoy the liveliness of the campus (pre-COVID, when everyone was playing sports and it was busy). At the moment, I work mostly from home, but I still enjoy online events when I join them.

There’s also a lot of support. There’s the PhD network, the Doctoral college, support from supervisors, etc. I think Loughborough has done well to create support networks for PhD students. I often use the library when I’m on campus. The library has a good selection of books which I need for my research and has largely been helpful.

My proudest moment

I think one of my proudest moments was when a national news channel in the Philippines learned about my research and invited me for an interview as part of a special on the election’s coverage. I didn’t think they would air much of the interview, because I didn’t think they would be interested in media theories and academic research, but to my surprise, they aired the full 10-minute interview! I recently presented at the 8th European Communications Conference and the International Journal of Press/Politics. I also presented as a guest lecturer at the University of the Philippines twice this year. I’ve recently been invited to give lectures in Norway in three different universities as well as the Globalisation Conference happening in November.

Learnings and advice for someone wanting to pursue a PhD

If there’s anything I learned, I take life one day at a time. In this sense I have no ‘ambitions’ but I do know what I want to do – I want to have an impact and help create real world change. That sounds vague, but that’s all I really want to do in life. It’s why I worked with non-profits for a long time and my heart is still set on that.

My advice for a future PhD student would be to enjoy it. I know sometimes it can get repetitive, even frustrating, or boring. But I think the most important part is to enjoy it, and to keep getting interested in your research. I do this by also doing other things. My life does not revolve solely on my research and so after I do other things, I come back to my study and find it interesting again. I think that’s important. And also, find a good support system. It’s going to be three or four years of your life, and many things happen in that span of time. A solid support system would help you get through the toughest of days but will also celebrate your achievements with you.

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