Based on my personal experienced and what I have learnt from academics, research scholars and scientists over the years, I believe that the path to obtaining a doctoral degree is paved with mistakes, failures and challenges and the guidelines in this regard can be elusive, irrelevant and often unrealistic. However, I argue, some of the important points if taken into serious consideration, will help the scholars in completing their PhD quickly. In this blog post, I discuss some of these important points. These mainly include: 1). Effective time management, 2). Choosing a supervisor carefully, 3). Be patient, 4) Remaining focused and finally 5). Assuming a lead role.
1. Effective time management
Though, it looks easy-peasy to note down all the things into your diary to stay organized but putting it in action, is really an uphill task. Little adjustments and few sacrifices on some activities may be instrumental. Nevertheless, the scholars need not to panic when things are not going the way they planned. Possible delays need to be augured well and they should be prepared to accommodate and priorities things accordingly. I feel this is the key to success as scores of doctoral students run out for poor time management. To me, if the scholars are done with effective time management, they are done with the PhD.
2. Choosing a supervisor carefully
To have a good supervisor, who is humble and professionally sound is a wonderful thing. Despite the fact, that the doctoral students have to manage all of their research work on their own, even then, a good supervisor is not less than a boon. While choosing a supervisor, the scholars should exercise utmost care. I advise, the scholar should meet his/her prospective supervisor several times in advance. Many may seem helpful and cooperative in the beginning, but have been found not to be responding to phone calls, emails and text messages or it used to take them weeks to comment on a piece of work the scholars submitted.
3. Be patient
At any moment of time, the scholars should not lose patience. Sometimes, things would not be in the scholars’ control. Sometimes, things would not be in the supervisor’s hands and sometimes, things would not be even in the university’s control. One should always be realistic. One needs not to panic if the things are not moving in the direction you ideated. One has to be dead patient about it. This is the only area; I made a mess out of it. I feel, the scholars should learn this important lesson.
4. Remaining focused
This is, in fact, the hardest job during the entire PhD journey. It is easy to say that the scholars need to remain focused all the time, but difficult to practically do it. Remaining focused and finishing the tasks well in time are considered to be the most important traits and qualities the scholars need to develop and exhibit. I advise the scholars, not to allow themselves, get easily distracted. The perennial distractions may be grievous at times and I fear it might be deleterious to the extent that scholars might lose their momentum and cost them their PhD.
5. Assuming a lead role
The scholars need to take charge of the research work. Off course, the scholars shall receive necessary guidance from his/her supervisor but the scholars shall be in the lead role, the one who shall be doing the research work, on his own. It is the scholar who has to be in total command of the things. I recommend the scholars do not let their supervisor off the hook and never overlook to meet on a set schedule. But remember, do not alienate your supervisor by too many loaded text messages and unnecessary emails.
In a nutshell, the doctoral students should deeply understand what to do and what to avoid while pursuing PhD and writing their thesis. The above-mentioned points are some of the important areas the doctoral students must always take care of.