A family member of mine is a double Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), and I still cannot completely come to terms with the thought of pursuing a Ph.D. in the coming future. There is no denying that doing a Ph.D. is tough and usually a long-standing process but is not necessarily as ugly as people make it out to be.
I have had quite a few resourceful conversations with Ph.D. holders, and they all tell me that many people either take a Ph.D. too lightly or too seriously. There needs to be moderation in the way we do everything about it. In this post, I will note down all the top 5 tips which I have received, and which, I believe, you should follow in case you want to pursue a Ph.D.
Ph.D. Tips #1: Be Prepared
This might sound like throwaway advice, but it is actually a very important one. Ph.D. is not a one-day decision. It requires extensive and intelligent thinking about everything which will be involved and at stake. You should consider all necessary aspects of doing a Ph.D. such as time involved, resources expended, and what not.
More than just that, it requires you to be mentally prepared. You will end up researching volumes of material, making numerous corrections, and worrying about meeting deadlines. There is so much that goes into doing a Ph.D.—and it is advised that you prepare yourself mentally before making any decision.
Ph.D. Tips #2: Coordinate With Your Supervisor
Your supervisor will be your ultimate support during the Ph.D. course. Supervisors are our mentors, friends and sometimes family so you need to take them very seriously. Before you decide to do anything even remotely related to your Ph.D. topic, it is extremely necessary that you coordinate with your supervisor.
If you are well-connected with your supervisor, you will be well-placed to plan and execute your Ph.D. Make a note to not take your supervisor lightly because without him there is no way you will have any stress reduced.
Tip: Hold regular discussions with your supervisor. Even if you do not have specifics to discuss, meet him anyway and inform where you are with your research. Keeping your supervisor informed of your progress is a great help.
Ph.D. Tips #3: Learn To Take Critical Feedback
One of the reasons we stress so much during Ph.D. is that we are constantly asked to review and edit. Many times we get really critical feedback from supervisors and that upsets our morale and causes us to feel grey.
Ph.D. is much more than just plain research work. It requires an analytical understanding of the subject-matter, and such understanding only develops when we are open to feedback in a positive manner. Throughout your course, your supervisor will scold you, criticize you and what not, but intentions are good and helpful.
If you open your mind to critical evaluations, nothing could be better. You will not only become a good researcher but a better human.
Ph.D. Tips #4: Make A Plan
Ph.D. without a plan is wasteful. You have so much to read, analyze and write, and it will be unreasonable to expect to do it all without a plan.
Structuring your Ph.D. is one of the first things you should be doing. Make a tentative plan, which will anyway improve with time and research, and start working. In that plan, include preliminary chapters and start doing basic research. Follow the plan religiously. You may also want to take the assistance of your supervisor in drafting a feasible plan.
One tip: Do not overestimate your abilities. Ph.D. may be challenging, but you do not have to spend your entire day on it. Give yourself breaks and relax. Have a direction and the rest will fall in place automatically.
Ph.D. Tips #5: Take A Break
One of the Ph.D. people I know told me that in her early days she would not give herself even single day-break. Stress was building up, and she felt that she was falling behind. She advises me that because people characterize Ph.D. as challenging and notoriously difficult you start panicking. You always keep thinking that you should get done with it as soon as possible.
Her piece of advice is this: it is highly necessary to take breaks. There comes a time when the mind will stop functioning properly and your moods will be greatly affected. Hence, pick up a hobby, read books, go out with friends and anything else which relieves stress.
Have you read?
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