Academic common room
Starting a doctorate, what are your top tips?
DocDoc · 21/08/2017 11:32
I will soon be starting a three year professional doctorate - which means that as well as researching and writing up a thesis, I will be working at the same time. So I know that time management and organisation are going to be key, as well as making sure I keep on top of things and not falling behind. And being able to delineate between research&writing / working / home / rest wil, also be vital.
But apart from that, I wondered if those who have trodden this path before have any good tips, anything from software to general advice, all is welcomed!
mummabubs · 21/08/2017 14:13
I qualified from a three year professional doctorate last year, which sounds very similar in set up to what you've described (I wonder if it's the same course...) - honestly my best advice is keep a real eye on work-life-uni balance. Obviously when assignments are due (and thesis!) that balance will be out of kilter but I made sure that when I wasn't on placement and didn't have an assignment to work on I had downtime and used a lot of self-care/hobbies. Best of luck and enjoy 😊
DocDoc · 21/08/2017 20:42
Thank you! I am wondering about taking up a new hobby or sport, seems like the last time I'll have this kind of opportunity available to me and it might be a nice way of unwinding!
HollyBuckets · 21/08/2017 21:23
Dance classes & aerobics got me through my PhD which I did while a teaching fellow in the department I was doing my PhD in. So working FT and studying FT. Keep fit - it really makes a difference.
mummabubs · 21/08/2017 22:25
I took up welsh lessons as an evening course in my third year and it was definitely intense as the class fell on my doctorate teaching day, so definitely consider something not academic, like you say a sport or something craft-y perhaps?
user1494149444 · 22/08/2017 07:18
I took an unprofessional doctorate, and it still took me four years, so perhaps not the best to advise but...
Looking back, I would say I should have dis-engaged from the PhD more. I should have taken more holidays, especially in the difficult second year. I should have joined more clubs and societies. It's important to recharge and my second year became horrible because I didn't give myself a break.
I know people who took 8 years to do their PhD, so there is a balance, you can rest too much, and it is hard to strike it.
DocDoc · 22/08/2017 07:19
I think keeping fit will be a good one - I am coming up to a big birthday next spring and it's made me assess where I am in life and one of the things has been reflecting on how fit I am. Which is not very and I'd like that to change!
I guess it's a case of working out how to fit it all in. I would like to keep time aside for reading non-doctorate-related novels but I'm not too sure how optimistic that might be!
DocDoc · 22/08/2017 07:22
Cross post user. I don't think there'll be much in the budget for holidays but we do like going for a good walk in the countryside and up hills so some walking daytrips will be on the cards.
Interestingly, it seems the best advice to be given about doing a PhD comes in the form of 'make sure you make time for things other than your PhD!' Illuminating!
Deianira · 22/08/2017 15:21
Find some people. You need BOTH friends and family who don't get it and don't much care and want to talk about something else (to help you take a break), AND friends who will get it. If you find yourself getting isolated, go out and find more people - via your University (e.g. grad school), or non-academic hobbies as above. I have seen PhD students really struggle at times when they just needed someone to have a chat with at a difficult point, and had managed to isolate themselves beyond having that. The right people can also provide support/a break at conferences, encouragement and celebrations when things are going well, and a pair of ears to hash out a knotty argument with, so they really are worth their weight in gold during a PhD. If you've already got people, don't let them slip away while you do this. You will need them!
impostersyndrome · 22/08/2017 16:52
You asked about software: my strongest recommendation (assuming you don't already do this), is to choose a bibliography package like Endnote (normally free via the university, but will cost you after your course) or Zotero, Mendeley or one of the other free versions. Use it religiously to record notes (including page numbers) of everything you read. If you aren't used to using this sort of package, enrol on a quick course so you make the most of it. You want a package that will import citations and generate bibliographies. See comparison here: www.library.yorku.ca/web/research-learn/citations/zotero-vs-mendeley-comparison/. It'll save you hours of work and days of frustration in the long run.
Summerswallow · 22/08/2017 18:03
I gave up on Endnote in the end as I found it difficult to sync versions over a couple of years- I use Mendeley now and much prefer it. You can get an 'Import to Mendeley' button for your toolbar and every time you read something you want to cite, you click it and it imports it (and the pdf if possible) into your database. Much better.
mummabubs · 22/08/2017 18:28
Yeah Mendeley is pretty good, I used that. Still occasionally had to put in article details manually but saved me a heck of a lot of time with referencing and finding notes I'd made in articles :)
To comment on this thread you need to create a Mumsnet account.