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Top 5 Tips for PhD Preparation: Master Your Journey

26 June 2023

Starting a Ph.D. is an incredibly tedious and daunting task. To get to Ph.D., one has to put in years of hard work and sacrifice to be here. Completing the Ph.D. is a different ball game. Hours, weeks, and years of hard work go into preparing the thesis for your Ph.D. However, some simple five tips can help you prepare for your dream Ph.D.

Read lots of papers

Initially, it would be best to dedicate most of your time to reading papers to obtain a clear overview of your research field. You must understand all the important research topics that have already been covered. This is referred to as the "state of the art."
Once you know your state of the art, you can dedicate your efforts in the correct direction and expand the scope of research. It will provide you with a roadmap to avoid duplication of existing research areas and create something new and innovative. Reading the existing research papers gives you clarity on the new developments in your field. You connect with research scholars who can contribute to your knowledge-building when you read new papers.

Get stead and ready for the journey

A full-time Ph.D. programme spans between three to four years. Although it may sound like a long tenure, proper preparation and clear distinction about your priorities can easily make the time fly by.
Often, the first year sounds like a wasted opportunity as 90% of your efforts go into familiarising yourself with the environment, understanding the field of study, and analysing different methods and techniques of research. So, to make good use of it, you need to plan your first year even before you start it!
It would help if you learned to squeeze every minute out of your research programme by taking the preparation beforehand. This can be done by learning about your research topic, planning your experiments, and setting your goals right during the journey. Make sure you are organised from the start by documenting everything properly, updating your notes, and using your lab book per the requirement.

Communication is the key

Communication is a major skill that will help you to become a diverse and independent researcher. It would be best to communicate with your professors, fellow researchers, scholars, and people from other disciplines, departments, universities, and beyond, especially your Ph.D. supervisor. As your supervisor can be someone who can provide hands-on training and some leave you to be, you must establish good connections with them, as good communication is the key to a long-lasting and rewarding professional relationship.

Start writing your thesis early

It is a traditional worn-out thinking that your first years are your 'introductory year' while the final year is the 'writing year.' Preparation begins the moment you train your mind to do it. You can always start writing your thesis early. As the final years are very stressful and full of regret, anxiety, and despair, it is great to start writing your thesis as early as possible. You can do this by writing for half an hour every day by chucking out meaningless tasks such as scrolling through Facebook, etc. You should use your time wisely and keep yourself at an advantage.

Think of your career too

Many Ph.D. scholars harbour the thought that they must only focus on their thesis and leave everything aside. This forces them to get trapped within the 'Ph.D. bubble.' But have you ever wondered what you could do once you are done with your research? Ph.D. graduates are highly employable, but what makes you stand out?
You can utilise your university's resources to become an all-rounder researcher. You can develop your soft skills, such as public speaking, presentation, etc., to efficiently deliver your research work. It is also a great idea to sign up on certain research-relevant social media platforms like ResearchGate, LinkedIn, etc., to build a social network with Ph.D. scholars and fellow researchers. You never know which connection has what opportunities are in store for you!

To sum it up, getting a Ph.D. degree is anything but tough. There will be times when nothing seems to work. However, this doesn't mean that it is impossible. In such times, it is very important to take care of your mental health, take a deep breath and relax. You must focus on your skills and have confidence in yourself, as these can also help you get closer to your goal!

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