The early years
Should I start a PhD? Am I going in the right direction? A section on the most common questions before and during the first year of your PhD.
The PhD process gives you the opportunity to get to grips with a vast amount of literature, positioning PhD students strongly when it comes to publishing journal articles and opportunities to contribute to their respective field. It might seem like yet another task for already time-constrained PhD students, but publishing during the PhD can offer several benefits.
I gave a speech about “Getting through the PhD” about a month ago at the University of Glasgow. It was intense to stand there, talking to PhD students in their first year and give them advice….more like slices of life and experience.
I’ve jotted down a list of ten questions that I wish I had thought about more fully, or even considered at all before starting a PhD. Now, please remember (as mentioned before), I was full-time PhD (with teaching and marking commitments in my PhD Contract), and part-time at work. However, my employment contract was 27 hours per week (plus travel time), which is only a few hours short of what most people would consider a full-time contract (35 hour per week).
Now I’ve been accepted, arranged to stay on at work part-time (although it’s almost a full-time contract for normal people when you look at the hours!). I need to resolve being a student again, along with how to juggle reading, study, writing, teaching, marking, home-life, and work?!
Some important pointers on managing a career and undertaking a PhD.
Sitting down and working out quickly what I would do, and how I could possibly afford to do it (time and finances)
If you recall my last post, I had just bumped into someone that I knew from years ago. He was completing his PhD and I was on a Masters course back in the UK at the time. Before I went home from another busy shift at work, I sat down to catch up on the past 8 years! His question was “So, when are you going to do a PhD?”, to which I replied “I’ve actually been thinking about that for the past six weeks, but how on earth do I manage it?”.
In April 2015, after months of hard work and sleepless nights, my Marketing dissertation on “Investigating consumer attitudes for young adults towards in-app advertising in the UAE” was finally complete. Before I walked down to hand in the very final copy of my dissertation I took one last look at it. I remembered how much I could not wait for this moment, to finally finish my dissertation and never look at it again. However, something had changed. I was suddenly very proud of what I had produced. I had put my heart into this thesis. I wanted to take this journey of extensive research and thorough analysis further.
Ok – so you want to do a PhD. Should you stay in your home country or join the increasing number of students studying abroad?
Having made the decision to pursue a PhD, you now have the dilemma of choosing the university and department which best suit your individual preferences and requirements.
There are the obvious factors to be considered, such as in which country the university should be based, in which language you wish to study, access to funding and supervisor availability. There are also a number of other factors that should similarly be a part of your decision making process. These factors are not always obvious but can have a significant impact upon your PhD experience.
Project based PhDs are not normally an open call for projects, academic staff will offer specific and clearly delimited PhD proposals which the successful candidates will be expected to carry out. These PhD projects will normally include some direction around: aim and objectives, theoretical and contextual literature, and data collection plan (including access to data). With a fully funded three year full-time PhD Scholarship, you could expect to see included: PhD fees; maintenance allowance which are often tax and national insurance exempt and is expected to cover normal living expenses; a contribution towards conference attendance, and additional funding may be available for research training.