Jack Joyce

PhD student

Can you explain what your research project is about?

My research is on communication in the workplace, particularly the types of talk important to staff collegiality and morale like mundane casual conversation and banter; I’m interested in the small talk people do to build relationships in these more formal settings. I'm taking a fly-on-the-wall approach to recording these mundane conversations to explore how people do descriptions and how these descriptions can cause 'discrimination' by reinforcing taken-for-granted assumptions and isolating particular categories of people.

What were you doing before you started your PhD?

I studied Linguistics at York St John University where I graduated top of the school. I started working in a call centre to help fund my MA until the University of York offered me a full scholarship for my MA in Social Research in Sociology.

Why did you choose Loughborough University?

Why not Loughborough University? It is renowned for outstanding Social Science research with world-leading researchers. It regularly features in the top 5 for student experience and does well in other metrics too. It has a very strong sense of community and an abundance of opportunities to get involved with. It’s a high quality, friendly university with an expansive green campus and I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.

How are you funding your studies?

I am on a fully funded scholarship by the School of Social Sciences and Humanities. The application was straightforward and the interview was relaxed and friendly.

What do you enjoy the most about studying a PhD with us?

I enjoy the supportive and relaxed atmosphere here at Loughborough, whatever direction I pursue through my research is always encouraged by my supervisors and the department promotes external conference attendance.

The thing that I enjoy the most about studying a PhD here at Loughborough is the community; we meet up every week in our research groups within the department, we regularly have social events together and there’s always something happening to bring postgraduate researchers from across the university together. There’s never any feeling of isolation here.

Describe what it is like to study a PhD, and how this differs from undergraduate/masters study?

Doing a PhD comes with a bunch of obligations – primarily completing the thesis but there are other things like teaching, going to conferences and helping organise conferences. The specialist knowledge garnered throughout an undergraduate/masters study are required to do a PhD but a PhD also requires much more than specialist knowledge – you need to be able to work totally independently with fuzzy and poorly defined goals so perseverance is key; you also need to use your ability to critically evaluate research almost every day and be able to communicate your own research effectively and engagingly.

Why did you decide to undertake a PhD in your area?

It was to satisfy a desire of deeper understanding of how people do stuff. My first undergraduate assignment was to answer the question – ‘How do we understand each other?’ and since then I’ve constantly asked that question – why is that happening now? The thrill of expanding our understanding of talk-in-interaction is hugely rewarding and I love that my 'job' is to be on the cutting-edge of knowledge and I that I get to find new things out every day. There are more pragmatic reasons; a PhD isn’t just permission for me to do research for 3-4 years, it’s a great investment in myself, giving me special abilities and unique skills for any future career.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

In 5 years I hope to be doing research in some capacity. Ideally I’ll be working as a postdoctoral researcher at a university, but so long as I’m doing research and finding new things out then I’ll be happy.

If you could give one piece of advice to a future PhD student, what would it be?

Get involved. Like many things, the more you put into the whole experience, the more you’ll get out of it – a PhD is more than just doing research, it’s being a part of a research community, it’s organising conferences, it’s teaching undergraduates to critically think and evaluate. Oh, and write as much and as often as possible.