If you are one of the elite students who has elected to study a postgraduate research degree , then you are likely already pretty well aware of the fundamentals of effective studying. However, for many the brightest students who stood out from their peer group in both school and then undergraduate study, the sheer gulf in terms of both the difficulty and volume of postgraduate research can be rather staggering. As such, it can quickly be the case that postgraduate research students become overwhelmed, at times despondent, and struggle to make the progress they’d ideally like to. If you find yourself in this situation, then the following five tips can be incredibly helpful and allow you to thrive in the challenging yet extremely rewarding environment of postgraduate research.
Secure The Best Funding Package Possible This tip may sound like it is not directly related to carrying out the actual research you have to complete. However, it is a crucially important element to get right as it sets the parameters of how comfortable(or uncomfortable) your life will be as a postgraduate student and, therefore, dictates how much of your time your can give to your research. Given how significant the increase in difficulty is when compared with the previous study you have completed, it is essential that you don’t become too bogged down in outside work to fund yourself through the degree. Ideally, you want to secure a postgraduate funding package which allows you to focus all your mental energies on your research. If this is not possible, then tutoring students in your degree subject is a good choice as it pays well and keeps you sharp. To be efficient with your postgraduate degree study you should try to avoid working long, draining hours at a non-study related job, if possible.
Don’t Be Afraid To Ask For Help If you’ve made it as far as entering a postgraduate research program, then you have undoubtedly already proved that you rank in the top few percent of your peer group in terms of intellect. Prior to commencing an intensive postgraduate research degree, it can be easy for some students to successfully sail through exam after exam without ever needing to ask for help. This presents one of the biggest problems to the effectiveness of many students’ research as they are not used to asking for help. It can even be a little embarrassing. However, to be effective you really need to get in the habit of asking for help as and when you need it. Soon it will become like second nature and you will be a far more effective student for doing it!
Go Into University Regularly Unlike undergraduate study, as a postgraduate student there are very few defined limits about how much and when you should do your research. This lack of structure works well for some and less well for others. It is a good idea, at least to start with, to make a habit of going into university on an almost daily basis. This gives you a chance to discuss ideas with peers and helps to delineate study time from the rest of your life.
Build A Good Relationship With Your Supervisor Cultivating an excellent working relationship with your academic supervisor is an essential part of effective postgraduate research study. It is vital that you communicate well with them and get all the feedback and advice you need from them on time. If there are problems with their feedback, their approach to guiding you with your research or you generally don't have a good rapport, then you need to let them know. If the relationship simply isn’t working, then don’t be afraid to ask for a change of supervisor.
Have Some Fun, Too!
Postgraduate research can be incredibly challenging; furthermore, it is inevitable you will go through some ups and downs over the course of your study. During this process, it can be easy to let everything else go and focus entirely on your research. This, in terms of both effectiveness and happiness, is not the correct approach. Make sure to balance your research with a little down time to allow for some fun and relaxation, too. You will come back refreshed to you research and, in turn, make faster progress.
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