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Tips for Doing a PhD
Research Methods RMIT online Research Methods Course
Free chart one page Thesis Writing Process
Some of us have observed that those starting a PhD might benefit from these ideas:
  • Want a PhD.
  • Clearly and concisely define your research question.
  • Be flexible based on what you learn.
  • Ruthlessly discard useless tangents.
  • Write every day.
  • Plan your PhD to be completed on time.
  • Be aware of the mass of work involved in a PhD.
  • Break the mass of work involved in a PhD into doable tasks.
  • Do not focus on the mass of work involved in a PhD.
  • Find a supervisor who:
    - will spend time with you and
    - has developed a community of scholars.
  • Spend time with your supervisor and the community of scholars.
  • Interact with other communities of scholars.
  • Build your support system:
    - find other PhD students who do not have your support system
    - invite them to join and contribute to your support system
  • Deal with problems as they arrise.
  • Do the PhD full time if you can:
    - full time PhD will help avoid distractions
    - part time PhD will experience frequent distractions.
  • Please email me with other ideas that I have not yet placed here.

    The biggest challenges are the distractions ... like going on holiday to lay on the beach. Some people have difficult weeks. Plan for distractions so that when they occur you can maintain a degree of contiunuity.

    Worth Thinking About
    Subject: Dalai Lama Millennium Message
    This is what The Dalai Lama has to say on the millennium, all it takes is a few seconds to read and think. Do not keep this message. The mantra must leave your hands within 96 hours. You will get a very pleasant surprise. This is true even if you are not superstitious.
    1. Take into account that great love and great achievements involve great risk.
    2. When you lose, don't lose the lesson.
    3. Follow the three Rs:

  • Respect for self
  • Respect for others and
  • Responsibility for all your actions
    4. Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck.
    5. Learn the rules so you know how to break them properly.
    6. Don't let a little dispute injure a great friendship.
    7. When you realize you've made a mistake, take immediate steps to correct it.
    8. Spend some time alone every day.
    9. Open your arms to change, but don't let go of your values.
    10. Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer.
    11. Live a good, honourable life. Then when you get older and think back, you'll be able to enjoy it a second time.
    12. A loving atmosphere in your home is the foundation for your life.
    13. In disagreements with loved ones, deal only with the current situation. Don't bring up the past.
    14. Share your knowledge. It's a way to achieve immortality.
    15. Be gentle with the earth.
    16. Once a year, go someplace you've never been before.
    17. Remember that the best relationship is one in which your love for each other exceeds your need for each other.
    18. Judge your success by what you had to give up in order to get it.
    19. Approach love and cooking with reckless abandon.

    This is the popular tool for reading research papers seen tacked up in offices, labs, and above copying machines everywhere. It has been reported to me that it originally appeared in a scientific journal article,

    Graham, Jr., C. D.,
    Metal Progress
    Volume 71, Number 5
    May, 1957

    A Dictionary of "Useful" Research Phrases
    Research Phrase Translation
    It has long been known... I didn't look up the original reference.
    A definite trend is evident... These data are are practically meaningless.
    Of great theoretical and practical importance... Interesting to me.
    While it has not been possible to provide definite answers to these questions... An unsuccessful experiment, but I still hope to get it published.
    Three of the samples were chosen for detailed study... The results of the others didn't make any sense.
    Typical results are shown... The best results are shown.
    These results will be shown in a subsequent report... I might get around to this sometime if I'm pushed.
    The most reliable results are those obtained by Jones... He was my graduate assistant.
    It is believed that... I think.
    It is generally believed that... A couple of other people think so too.
    It is clear that much additional work will be required before a complete understanding of the phenomenon occurs... I don't understand it.
    Correct within an order of magnitude... Wrong.
    It is hoped that this study will stimulate further investigation in this field... This is a lousy paper, but so are all the others on this miserable topic.
    Thanks are due to Joe Blotz for assistance with the experiment and to George Frink for valuable discussions... Blotz did the work and Frink explained to me what it meant.
    A careful analysis of obtainable data... Three pages of notes were obliterated when I knocked over a glass of beer.

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