Saturday, 5 January 2019

How to Become a Doctorate: 7 Tips to Keep Motivation Alive and Not Quit PhD

I never knew the seriousness about this "quitting" issue until I saw some of my batchmates doing. They were quite steady, cracking their viva and were good in studies, but suddenly they decided to quit and never went through the whole process of achieving a doctorate degree.

So, then it occurred to me that people do quit PhD midway. And, they do so for numerous reasons. Discussing about them in detail and making an effort on not letting you quit your PhD, I bring the following guidelines:

  1. Topic Must Interest You - Make your topic of the thesis very interesting to you. It could be something that others haven't ventured into but if you decide to bring out good work and research well, then your thesis will be lauded. Your motivation lies in creating a thesis that is beneficial for the future academicians. Original work is always appreciated.
  2. Vision Board - Just above your desk or in your room, create a vision board in which you can stick charts, write short-term and long-term goals, see your progress, pin pictures of graduation ceremony and imagine yourself having a degree in hand. A vision board will help you see the present and future however glorious you want it to be.
  3. Be Financially Secure - Having a regular full-time job can be one of the reasons for quitting PhD. An office-goer who works for 8 or more hours has least amount of time to come back home or university and begin the task of reading and writing a thesis. So, if you are one of those who have the pressure of getting a steady income for family then PhD is not for you. Make reasonable choices in life. PhD is a full time research job and it cannot be compromised or done part-time. If you don't see yourself in a position to give such a commitment to PhD and cannot think about leaving your full-time job, then don't choose PhD in the first place itself. I am particularly concerned about those scholars who want to work on their PhD and bring out a credible thesis but couldn't because you just took their seat. However, an advise I would like to give is to first secure some means of livelihood, earn a bit before, take a break for a 1-2 years, and then come back to take PhD admissions. This way not only you will have money that you saved but you will have experience and good contacts that will help you later. For example, you can take up jobs in research institutes for a few years prior to starting PhD. Quit that job, apply for government or non-government fellowship and get on with PhD.
  4. Live near University - Try to live in the university campus or near it or atleast within the city. A batchmate of mine had shifted bases and in less than 2 years realized that she cannot cope with PhD and online relationship with her Supervisor is doing no good to her. She lost the timely information that circulated for PhD scholars, lost touch with faculty members and friends, never participated in the campus activities, wasn't able to issue library books and journals or attend seminars, and finally lost the motivation for a doctorate degree. Remember we all are motivated as long as we are surrounded by people or things that share the same vision. Once in 6-8 months visit to the university and an half hour chat with Supervisor will never expand your knowledge and writing ability. So, while it is not rule for PhD scholars and you can work miles away, residential-PhD or living in the same city to get the study environment is crucial.
  5. Attend Seminars/Conferences, Speak and Publish - It is very important to attend seminars and conferences, be a participant, speak and publish papers in reputed journals and newspapers all throughout your PhD. This helps in getting your name popular, people begin to recognize you, and you start getting noticed before you are ready with a degree in hand and out looking for a job. Being part of national and international conferences related to your subject gains you contacts with influential people who value greater knowledge. And, this in turn feeds your inner confidence in going steady and firm at attaining the doctorate degree and become one of those influential people. A PhD scholar needs to surround themselves with interested people to keep the motivation alive.
  6. Travel - Travel to locations where your subject area is. Suppose you are working on Europe, then organize funds and travel to European countries. Travelling always keeps the motivation alive because you get to meet others who are also doing research in the similar area. You will see their progress, interact with institutional heads and experience their work culture. Travelling also cuts the mundane routine of a scholar and freshens up for new ideas.
  7. Gather Information on Post-PhD Opportunities - Keep in regular touch and gather information on what all are the opportunities available after you finish with your PhD. This is a great motivational step that will guide you in getting the right position and job after becoming a doctorate.
So, these were my 7 tips to keep motivation alive and not quit PhD.

Click to read the previous step - 9 habits of happy PhD scholars


  1. Thank you very much Dr Paul for the great piece, it's very inspiring.

    1. If my pointers could inspire and motivate you, my intentions came true then! Thank you.