Dr. Serene Lim, Ph.D

Professional Academic Editor, Educator & Coach Since 1991


During my consultation last week with a 4th-year Doctoral candidate about his research and career plans, I cautiously asked if he was “on the job market.”

His university, which Times Higher Education ranks among the Top 30 Universities Worldwide, had awarded him a 12-month Visiting Fellowship to a U.S. “Public Ivy” research university to work on his doctoral research.

By doctoral standards, he’s doing very well: two articles at top-tier academic journals; interdisciplinary research on topics that are timely and practical, theoretical and applied; and a “hot” academic job market in his home country, eager to welcome him back as professor and consultant.

At 25, he’s about the age of a 5th- or 6th-year undergraduate still struggling to complete his or her first degree.

With his international experience and near-native English, he had many options.

(I assumed he planned to graduate within 6 to 9 months, which is an achievement, compared to many of his peers.)


“I’m not ready to graduate,” he demurred. “I’m planning on a second doctorate, in a different field.

But, why?

“If I push to graduate this year, my ‘value’ in the academic world will ‘drop,’ as I’d be entering the job market with the same credentials as other PhDs,” he said, matter-of-factly.

“My goal is to have 4 or 5 journal articles published in top-ranked U.S. academic journals before I graduate.

“Writing a 300-page dissertation and getting it approved by my academic committee, isn’t the problem.

“Finding a tenure-track academic position isn’t an issue, either.

“The biggest challenge is establishing myself as an expert in my field.

“I’m looking at a second doctorate, in an unrelated field, that will enable me to understand, integrate and apply what I learn from both fields and find possible solutions to current issues.”


Unlike many doctoral candidates and ABDs who contact me for coaching because they’re at the end of their rope, figuratively speaking, and don’t even know how to begin writing, this one is confident, academically curious, interested in connecting theoretical dots, and continually expanding the scope of his research.

While others prefer to dwell within the tiny research holes or “niches” they’ve carved out for themselves, content in occupying that nano-millionth silo for the rest of their academic careers, this young academic wants to graduate from his prestigious Doctoral program and enter a second doctoral degree — in a different field, at another prestigious university, in the U.S.

In his home country, he explained, his academic value would increase manifold if he could demonstrate a history of continuous, persistent publishing in peer-reviewed U.S. or UK journals, on topics and issues that show a breadth… and depth… of specialized knowledge, and an understanding of what is relevant in the real world.

To further distinguish himself, he needed a second doctoral degree.

How can I help?, I asked.

His response: Strategize.

I outlined a blueprint for him, with targeted timelines:

His focus: Continue on his current track of research, grant applications, journal articles — and complete his dissertation within 6 months.

My focus: Help him reach his goal of admission to a second Doctoral program at an Ivy League next year.

In the 8 or 9 years it takes other Doctoral students to complete (or eventually decide to drop out of) their programs, he plans to have completed two doctorates, in unrelated fields… and establish himself as an expert in his field — before his 30th birthday!

Till then, for him, “On The Job Market” is on hold.

While it is rare to earn more than one Doctoral degree, it has been done.

Nevertheless, this young academic’s persistence demonstrates that what applies in the corporate world applies also to academia:

Success comes to those with a well-informed and well-thought out plan and strategy‚ and an intuitive coach to help bring it all together.

Do you know (and are you happy with) where you are headed — or how to get “there”?

Contact me if you’d like to know how I can help you articulate and plan your academic (or career) track, and differentiate you from your peers.

Copyright 2017-2019.  Dr. Serene Lim, PhD and The Thesis Doctor.  All Rights Reserved.

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