Getting help and advice from friends, colleagues, administrators, professors, students and parents and the internet is a common practice for those interested to apply for a PHD research programme. There is no denying the fact that it can be very challenging to identify and focus on things that can really make a long term difference.
Pay attention to details and give serious thought to the following 10 things before you start to day dream about receiving noble prize for your extraordinary research achievements. The following instructions and tips can help you to stay on the right track and avoid making reckless decisions on your path to a PHD.
1: Finding and Accessing Relevant Information
Getting accepted to a PHD programme will require you to actively seek out information about various PHD programmes offered in your chosen field of study. Discussing your future ambitions and research objectives with another PHD student can certainly help you to stay on path to successfully securing funding and consequently admission at your desired institution. You may also contact your undergraduate institution to further seek guidance about the potential opportunities and options. Look for further relevant information on your undergraduate university’s website.
2: Development towards research leadership – A more responsible approach might be required
Unlike undergraduate education where you are evaluated based on assigned set or courses, a PHD programme will demand you to meaningfully contribute to the existing research or develop original and considerable research in your chosen area of study. You may also have to undertake few courses as part of your PHD programme if your highest qualification is a bachelor degree but these courses will be aimed at developing and improving your research skills in order to support you in your research objectives. In short, your supervisor will be evaluating you based on the quality and material of your research activities.
3: Transition between undergraduate to a PHD programme can be tricky
Sometimes you may have an opportunity to get involved in a PHD research programme which revolves around a project that is not similar to the undergraduate level or Master’s level research projects. It is perfectly acceptable to change the direction your research because the transition between your undergraduate to a PHD programme is a major transition in your life.
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4: Avoid a narrowly focused research area if possible
Consider improving your knowledge about various research options and research groups in your first years. You may think that you are fully committed to one research area but consequently find that you are not yet prepared in such work for four to five years. Some PHD porgammes will allow you to work with three to four professors in your first year before choosing a permanent supervisor. PHD programmes where professors are working in a narrow research area would restrict you specific research activities.
Some Tips for PHD Students
- Creating a balance between your life in lab and the life outside is extremely important to ensure increased productivity.
- The location of your institution is as important as your desire to work in a recognized education institute. When assessing the location of the institute, you must think that, “I’m going to be in the lab all the time, so what does it matter if I’m by the beach, in a city, or in the middle of nowhere.”
- Work on your time management skills to further improve your ability to work with a strict schedule
- The research goes on and on for years. So be prepared to have no real breaks.