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Ten Tips for PhD students: Part Two

In the previous article, Ten tips for PhD students: Part one, I set out the first five of top ten tips for PhD students. In this second piece, I will complete the list with five more tips that should help you deal with the demands of researching, writing and defending your thesis.

  1. Make the most of your supervisor. Your supervisor, as a sympathetic, experienced and knowledgeable academic, is an extremely useful resource. Take every opportunity you can to get feedback on both your ideas and your writing.
  2. Rehearse your arguments as often as possible. Although it may be daunting, you should present your work to your fellow PhD students, to the department, to the wider academic community at conferences and to anyone else who will listen. Explaining your arguments to others will help you to identify flaws and how to rectify them.
  3. Have a research question for each chapter. Breaking down your primary research question into a number of smaller questions will help you maintain focus.  The answers to these questions should build on each other and move you towards an answer to your primary research question.
  4. Build your bibliography as you write and do not abbreviate your references until the final edit of your PhD. Keeping a full and complete record of your sources will save you a lot of time and effort when you face the pressures of finally submitting your work.
  5. Save your work frequently and when you make major or significant changes you should keep a copy of the previous version in case you subsequently need to refer back to it.
  6. Before you rewrite, proofread or edit a part, or the whole, of your thesis take a break. How long a break will depend on deadlines, but it is always a good idea as a break will help you view your work with a fresh eye and will make it less likely that you will skim read and miss the problems.


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