Getting a PhD is by no means an easy task. While you can fairly easily qualify for other types of academic programs, in the case of a PhD, you simply have to earn it. How are you going to do that? Simply with sheer hard work. This post is all about handy tips for anyone who whats to study for a PhD.
You would need to do a few things before you embark on a PhD journey. And one of those things is contemplation. You should deeply contemplate about why you want to get a PhD. And you should spend a fair amount of time on doing just that. Employ research tools, read considerably and talk to people about the benefits and pitfalls of studying for a PhD. It takes quite a long time after all to get a PhD. And at the end of the day you might not find it quite rewarding as well.
While you contemplate on why you want to get a PhD, you should also think about what you want to study during your PhD studies. This can normally be done while you are an undergraduate or a postgraduate student. Select a topic or a research domain that fascinates you the most. And it is always better to work on what you want to do as opposed to working on what others like.
Everyone can be a band wagoner for a while. This is true for the beginning at least. But as you progress through your life and academic years, ideas begin to crystallize in your mind. And you get a picture of what you like to do and why you like to do it. Life gives you ample time to develop concrete philosophies about things. Just try to utilize that time well.
So once you have decided why you want to get a PhD, and especially, what you would like to study as a PhD student, try to enroll for a PhD program.
Once you are on the PhD roller coaster, you would have to do so many things. This is going to take a toll on so many other aspects of your life. You will have to give up on many things, interests and hobbies. You might as well have quite long patches of times where you would not even bother to socialize even with your family. Such are the commitments a PhD study demands.
Depending upon which university, and which part of the world you have enrolled, you may (or may not) have to do a lot of course work before your formal enrollment as a PhD student. American universities mostly demand a lot of course work. On the other hand, most European universities either induct you directly in to a PhD program or they initially hire you as a postgraduate research student.
After being through the course work, you would have to write a research proposal about what you would like to do as a PhD student. You would also have to defend your research proposal formally in front of n academic committee.
Assuming that you have done that successfully, you are now exposed to a lot of research that you would have to do for the next few years. This means that you are also exposed to the massive literature that already exists to haunt you. How do you deal with that?
Perform a literature review. Spare six months to a year for that. Be very thorough. Collect all the written material on the topic you are researching and archive it properly. Read it really well. In the beginning you might find it very hard to digest all the information and jargon presented in all those books and research papers. This can cause a lot of frustration. It is also natural to be frustrated. Just relax! Doing a PhD is like eating an elephant, you have to eat it bit by bit!! Try to find books and material that have lucid explanations for what you are researching about. There is not a concept nowadays that cannot be explained in a way that is easier to understand.
Once you think that you have reviewed enough literature, a feeling that you should develop after many cycles of deep frustrations, start thinking about ways to come up with good ideas that solve your problems in a novel way.
One of the things about literature review is that there comes a stage when you understand the works of others very easily and you really enjoy and appreciate it. However, the idea that what you are being happy about has already been done by someone else strikes you back for more frustration. Don’t worry about it. You will ultimately have to find a way of doing what has been done in a much better way. That is what getting a PhD is all about. And if you persist for long enough, you will definitely find a way. You will have to learn to persevere. How are you going to do that? Just relax and keep working and thinking.
There will come a stage when you will begin to conceive ideas fast. And some of those ideas would also be quite brilliant. Just apply those ideas to your work and see how the results pop out. Something will begin to work if you are working hard. And you definitely become smart by the passage of time.
Publish your work. Whatever experiments show promising results, just write them up and send your manuscripts to nice conferences and journals.
When you have enough publications, simply compile a PhD thesis and defend it in front of the examination panel. That is all about how to get a PhD. Also read the following presentation.
Please try your best to read the following book too. I read this book more than a decade ago. A friend of mine suggested this book to me when I was a PhD student. Although I was half way through with my PhD work then, I still found it extremely useful. It has practical tips and ideas related to the PhD process. It sheds light on many myths, misconceptions, false fears and unworthy concerns related to the PhD process and informs the reader about more practical issues that need to be dealt with. As well as that it instills a sense of pragmatism in the psyche of the research student. I would say that every research student should definitely read this book once in their life. And it would be better to read it before embarking on the research journey.
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