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Posted March 5, 2013

Top Tips for Surviving a PHD

Studying for a PhD is likely to be one of the most testing academic challenges that you will encounter, which is why we have provided you with some top tips to help you sail through.

Take Ownership Whether you have designed your research project yourself or are conducting an advertised position, make sure that you get on board with it fully and own it! You're the one who will be putting all that hard work and effort in, day and night, so you really need to passionately get behind what you are doing. Although you should always take advice and guidance from your peers and supervisors, it is you who will be defending your decisions in your viva. If you're unsure of the direction you're heading and do not feel confident in the project, it is a good idea to fully evaluate and adapt it if necessary.

Write As You Go One of the most crucial pieces of advice is to write up your research as you go. It is astounding to hear the amount of Ph.D students that are in their third year of study and have still not written the large majority of their work, and do not even have a comprehensive set of notes. If you consider that your completed project may need to be between 40,000 and 80,000 words, you are piling on the pressure for your final year if you do not write extensively as you go. Although you are still likely to need to re-write large portions of the paper, it will be a whole lot easier than trying to write the entire thing from scratch in your final year.

Dealing With ‘Burnout’ It is inevitable that at some point during your thesis , however much you love the subject, you will get to the point where you simply cannot bear it any longer. It can be an extremely intense process, and many people seem to hit a wall about 60% of the way through. If you reach this point and feel as though you simply can't go on, take some time off. This is the best remedy for ‘burnout’ and is really all that is needed. Have a rest from your work for a few days or even a few weeks if you have enough time to spare, and when you go back to it, embrace it full force!

LOVE the Viva!

For many students, the thought of the Viva evokes fear, panic and nervousness, all of which can harm your confidence and performance. The best way to deal with the Viva is to approach it with the right mindset. This is a fantastic opportunity for you to show others how passionate, committed, and progressive you are, and what you have achieved during your course. Learn to give a true and honest account of yourself. The truth is that most examiners are genuinely interested in what you have to say, so just be natural and use this chance to express yourself in front of someone who is genuinely interested in you project.

Do you have any tips to add? If so we'd love to hear from you...

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