Top tips for studying towards a PhD | The University of Edinburgh

Top tips for studying towards a PhD | The University of Edinburgh


Three top tips I would give anyone looking to do a PhD is firstly – to make the most of every single opportunity. Your PhD isn’t just about doing experiments, getting results and being in the lab. It’s also about building on your own skills, personal development, opening up doorways for your future. So whenever you see an event or a challenge or a talk, something that looks interesting – make the most of it, grab onto it and it will help you develop in so many ways. Secondly I would say communication is key. So try to at least have a really good open relationship because they are someone who can really help you when times are tough and they’ll also give you advice on how to make the most of your PhD. So communication is really good and also learning to communicate is another thing. So, trying to put yourself out there and do presentations and learning about science communication is really important. Thirdly I would say, as someone whose in the midst of finishing the PhD and actually starting to write up, I would say it’s imperative to make really thorough notes. So always write your protocols as you go along, gather your results up in a nice way and just make sure you’re on top of it as you go along because when you get to my stage you can just gather it together and write it up. So I’m at that point now and I’m wishing I had been a bit more organised! So my top three tips for doing well in a PhD would be to work hard, to put yourself out there and go to seminars and events, and also to listen to your supervisor because generally they know what they’re talking about. Communicate with your supervisors. Build a strong relationship with them and tell them who you are. Make sure you get to know them well. Because your supervisors will not only advise you during your PhD time at the university but they will also guide you for the future, you know – for your next step, in your jobs. So make sure you use those resources well. Secondly, use all the resources that the university offers you. So the university has a lot of skill-building workshops, there are many cultural societies that you can join and be a part of. And thirdly and finally I would say have a work life balance right from day one. Because as international students, when we don’t have anybody to go back home to it can be so easy to keep working for long hours in your office or in the library for instance. So make sure you have decent work hours in the day. Make sure you take breaks, make sure you go out and enjoy the beautiful city. Grab every opportunity that you can. Whether that be going to a conference, whether that be the social events that have been organised within your building – take it, because you won’t get that opportunity again. Secondly, I would say have a work life balance. So yes work hard within the lab but also try and get out of the lab. But if your PhDs are in something else make sure that you don’t work all of the time. Make sure you get that social interaction with your friends. Thirdly would be to enjoy the times that are going well. So, again I work within a lab and sometimes scientific research doesn’t always go to plan. So those times it is going to plan – make sure you enjoy them.

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