Saturday, 18 August 2018

How to Become a Doctorate: What to do in the First Year of PhD



A big congratulations to you for clearing the PhD admission tests (written and interview) and on the acceptance of your research proposal.

Definitely you have successfully made a mark and are set on the path to become a doctorate.

Your first year begins from the date mentioned in your letter of admission. From hereon, your journey to become a doctorate has begun.

However, there is a way to move ahead. And taking baby steps is the key to remain steady and not falter.

Just because you got through with the admissions, doesn't mean you will see a degree in hand. These are completely different achievements.

Many times, students work hard for PhD admissions but because they are committed to a regular full-time job outside university, they drop out and never finish their PhD. Or there could be other reasons due to which an aspiring PhD scholar decides to discontinue and join some other courses or earn that supports their family and lifestyle.

My guidance is only for those, who really wish to become a doctorate and are completely committed to this program. You may take up a job or may not but your work towards research must not be put at stake.

Today I bring to you some key points on how to spend the first year of PhD so that you are able to get the best out of yourself, your supervisor and your university.
  1. Scope to Change the Research Topic - you prepared a research proposal for the admission interview, framed its theme, title, chapter headings, briefs, and so on. However, after 2-3 months of reading books and journals, and after several discussions with your supervisor, you want to change the topic, its title and content. So, the first year and in some cases the first 6 months is the time to do so. Because any later than this, changes in research will not be accepted officially by the university heads. Therefore, begin to gather knowledge about your topic. Many times interests shifts. For instance, you thought you want to research on immigrants of London but later decide on German immigrants. Secondly, the decision to change the topic is also based on the information gathered about field trips. Suppose you have chosen a remote region and encounter language issue. So, you have to understand how will you get the language training. If it becomes too difficult, then you have to shift your research to some other accessible area or region.
  2. Explore your Research Topic - go to the libraries (department, university, local), talk to the faculty, ask about the future opportunities around your topic and then assess all things.
  3. Seek Availability of Literature - read a lot. Buy subscriptions of reputed journals and magazines. Keep yourself updated through newspapers, new books and articles published around your topic.
  4. Be Updated about Student Offers - this rule pertains to not just the first year but all throughout your PhD course. Be aware and keep acquiring information about the various offers, government and private schemes for student welfare, fellowships, scholarships, internship opportunities, etc.
So, these were my 4 tips on the ways to spend the first year. Not necessary you have to begin writing thesis chapters from this year itself. I would advise you to utilize the first year to finetune your topic. Keep next two years for field visits. Gather literature, qualitative and quantitate data, etc. And then sum it all up in the form of thesis chapters.

Enjoy your new PhD student life and university. Socialise regularly. Attend student body meetings, national and international seminars. Participate in conferences. Write for journals and popularize your name. And, make some paper presentations in other colleges and universities.

Click to read previous step 5: How to Excel the PhD Admission Interview

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