My 5 top tips to successfully complete your PhD
- Choose your supervisor/s very carefully
It sounds obvious, but your PhD supervisor/s are extremely important for the success of your PhD. They are your main support network for the next 3+ years so be strategic and choose them wisely. Think carefully about the skills you want to develop as a researcher and select someone who you believe has those skills. For example, are you interested in health economics? Don’t pick someone who has absolutely no skills in this area. Or perhaps you are interested in furthering your statistical skills? A statistician with a research focus would be perfect! It is also important that you get along with the person and can see yourself building a friendly, professional relationship together in the future.
- Start networking early
Active networking is vital to your growth as an emerging researcher. Get out of your comfort zone and find opportunities to meet people in your field. Attend conferences, join a journal club, go to presentations and participate in online webinars in your research area. Not only is it important to meet other researchers and academics, but it is equally as important to start making connections with fellow PhD students as they will be a great support system for you. This could be either at university or online. TIP: Twitter can be a great place to connect with other PhD students internationally. Try searching these hashtags for useful tips and info: #acrchat #phdchat #phdlife #acr
- Find a topic that interests YOU
Choose a topic that YOU are passionate about. By all means follow your supervisors and other professionals’ advice, but make your own choices. You will be focusing on the topic for at least 3 years so it is important that you are interested in it. Choose a realistic topic and keep your research questions to the point. Often PhD students begin with overly-ambitious projects – remember it needs to be achievable.
- Create a “thesis completion plan”
Prepare a detailed thesis completion plan for the timeframe allowed. Keep refining your plan as you progress! There are some great resources for this online if you search “Thesis completion plan templates”. Start by planning the chapters of your thesis, outline what each study will require and highlight when you want to submit your articles to journals. The more detailed, the better! Send your completion plan to your supervisors before each meeting so they can see how you are progressing.
- Keep an open mind when responding to criticism
This one can be difficult, particularly as a new PhD student, but try not to take criticism and feedback from your supervisors to heart. You will get A LOT of this throughout your PhD, some will be positive and some will be negative. Try to remain level headed when responding and ask for clarification when needed. Remember there is a difference between confrontation and clarification – try to remain professional.