Tag Archives: PhD

Cleaning up, ready for the next phase

Cleaning up, ready for the next phase

The PhD is finished, and finally, everything is packed away in my home office; but it took me 18 months to get to this concluding stage. My desk was unusable for the year-and-a-half that followed my graduation and the mess worsened as the months slipped by. After the final printing, the lovely purple-bound copy of […] … learn more→

Rough and ready: the fast and lean route to a PhD

Rough and ready: the fast and lean route to a PhD

My friend Tim’s PhD had been four years in the making when he finally dropped out. His decision followed a meeting with his supervisor: the culmination of almost six months of work preparing a further draft chapter of his thesis. Only at this point did he learn that his supervisor did not approve of the […] … learn more→

Work smarter, finish faster: winning strategies for completing a PhD

Work smarter, finish faster: winning strategies for completing a PhD

Decades ago, we sat in the library as graduate students, staring at shelves of books and thinking: “If only we understood all the knowledge sitting on just one shelf, what power that would be.” Today, we try to convince ourselves that such daydreaming was not naive. Of course, there are people who love to learn, […] … learn more→

Dealing with administrative grief

Dealing with administrative grief

One of the most difficult things I’ve had to deal with whilst working on my PhD is managing the expectations of my university. In the end, I realised we were working towards two different goals. While we both wanted me to complete the PhD, our relationship was more complicated than that. My Graduate School and […] … learn more→

Is your PhD stuck on Mars? Apply the Martian Method

Is your PhD stuck on Mars? Apply the Martian Method

‘Hello!’ to anyone who’s stuck in their PhD. I feel for you. As I write, I’m half-way through my PhD program, and I’ve been stuck too. I’m out the other side now, but it’s made me think: a PhD and Mars have a lot in common. Remember the movie, ‘The Martian’? Matt Damon plays astronaut, […] … learn more→

Coping strategies for full time workers turned PhD students

Coping strategies for full time workers turned PhD students

I made the decision to commence a full-time PhD after ten years in the workforce. At the time, many people made encouraging comments such as, “you’ll be fine, you’re very organised.” While I appreciated their compliments, I didn’t share the same level of confidence. Although I worked with researchers every day as part of my […] … learn more→

The PhD badly needs a doctor

The PhD badly needs a doctor

The PhD was first introduced at Humboldt University of Berlin in the early 19th century and remains the iconic degree of the modern research university. But both in and outside the ivory towers, there is an increasing sense that the PhD is no longer fit for purpose, both in terms of the requirements of employers […] … learn more→

Writing the thesis – the theoretical framework

Writing the thesis – the theoretical framework

Not every thesis has a section or chapter devoted to a theoretical framework. But a lot do. (It’s the Ph in PhD after all.) And these ‘theory chapters’ can be very tricky to write – and are often tricky for the examiner to read. Before starting to write your theory section/chapter it can be good […] … learn more→

Is your PhD like a kaleidoscope?

Is your PhD like a kaleidoscope?

All those excellent “How to do a PhD” books provide a linear progression from start to finish. They seem to encompass all the intricacies along the way, but ultimately serve as a sort of telescope that draws your vision towards a clear and cohesive end point where your research question is answered neatly, you wear […] … learn more→

When is it ‘enough’?

When is it ‘enough’?

I have worked exclusively with PhD students for over a decade now. I have clocked up the 10,000 hours Malcolm Gladwell says you need to be an expert, so I hereby declare myself an expert in the problems of research education. One sign that you can genuinely claim the title of ‘expert’ is when you […] … learn more→