Studying for a PhD is hard. It is unlike any other course of study that you might embark on over the course of your academic career. However, it is also one of the most rewarding things that you will achieve. We understand how difficult it might seem at times, so we have put together our list of things that PhD students need to do to graduate – aka The PhD Survival Guide!
Write Early & Often
Writing is one of those things that you improve the more you practice. That is why it is important to write as much as possible. Even if you do not have an assignment or other task due, it is still a good idea to start getting into the habit of writing every single day. Keep a diary of your PhD experience or start a blog to give you somewhere to write. If you write things that relate to your subject of study then you may find that you end up with an small archive of material that could at some point be re-purposed when writing your papers. Get started on written assignments as early as possible so that you have plenty of time to complete them and polish them to the highest possible standard.
Read A Lot – Both Academic & Recreational
It is important to do a great deal of reading even beyond the set texts that you are allocated. Read as many relevant papers as you can get your hands on so that you have a better understanding of what sort of research has already been done in your field. This is going to help you to see where your PhD will fit in and make sure that you are not duplicating something that has already been done. You will also want to keep track of new developments over the course of your PhD. You should also read books, blogs and journals relevant to your field. However, it is not all about academic reading. Make time to read a couple of books for leisure too, just to give that old grey matter a rest!
Work In Short Productive Bursts
Research has proven that it is more effective to study in short, intense bursts. You might want to look into the Pomodoro Technique which involves choosing a task and then setting a timer for 25 minutes. During those 25 minutes you must work steadily with no interruptions and without jumping to another task. Then you get 5 minute break. Once you complete 4 cycles (called a Pomodori) you can take a 30 minute break.
Focus On Small Victories But Don’t Lose Sight Of The Big Picture
One of the biggest problems that students face during a PhD is getting overwhelmed by the sheer enormity of everything you have to do! Lot’s of students reach a point about half way through when they panic and starting thinking that they have not achieved anything or made any progress! There is an old saying that really applies here – ‘even the longest journey begins with a single step’. Look for the smaller signs of progress. Break your PhD into smaller milestones and you will find it much more motivating to keep going. However, always keep on eye on the prize!
You will not graduate with your PhD unless you are willing to dedicate time and effort to your studies. This is hard work and you will definitely earn that qualification! However, with these helpful tips you might find getting to graduation a little bit easier!