Tips on Beginning a Ph.D. Thesis

As you begin to think about researching and writing a thesis it is a good idea to take on board a few tips such as these to help you get on the right track and stay there:

  • Ensure that you choose a topic about which you are enthusiastic – you are more likely to write and research well if you are really keen.
  • Find out as much as you can about how the research committee at your prospective college or university makes its selections – this will help with your research proposal.
  • You are more likely to be accepted to undertake post-graduate research at a university where you have previously studied for a degree, so unless you are convinced that your research will be more successful at another university, stay put!
  • Another advantage to continuing to study at a university or college with which you are familiar is that you will know the staff in the department where you hope to research your thesis - this will help when you are deciding whom you would like to supervise your Ph.D.
  • Familiarise yourself with library procedures for post-graduate students, you will often get similar borrowing privileges to staff – again, if you study at a university where you did your undergraduate work you may already know this so familiarity is definitely an advantage and you need every advantage.
  • Ph.D.s are expensive and you are very unlikely to get state funding, so find out what, if any, funding schemes, awards, scholarships are available and write to everyone – what have you got to lose, they can only say no after all.
  • On the subject of funding, find out whether you can hope to obtain any teaching work in the academic department in which you are conducting your research whilst undertaking your Ph.D. – money will probably be tight (it is for most students, graduate or undergraduate) and this could help a lot.
  • Do not be over ambitious in your work schedule, it is much better to be slow and steady but to meet your deadlines than to rush ahead and be always frantically trying to keep up – also, you’ll probably have a part-time job, too.
  • Be confident that you are going to see the thesis through to completion before you start – expect the unexpected and keep going, you’ll get there in the end!

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