It is common knowledge that it is difficult to earn a doctorate. It is supposed to be. Some even say that if you don’t work all night or skip meals, you’re doing it wrong. But even if doctoral students aren’t naïve enough to enter the program expecting it to be easy, there’s a cost to the endeavor that no one talks about: a psychological one.
The doctorate is a research degree and the highest academic qualification you can achieve. The degree usually requires three to four years of full-time work on a dissertation that makes an original contribution to your topic.
Working on a PhD demands a lot from you and could push you to the limits of your mental health and stability. In addition, even before you think about the doctorate, you should ask yourself whether you are psychologically prepared for it.
What options do you have if not the professorship? Ask yourself the following question: what would you do if the professorship doesn’t work out? What other options do you have?
In addition, even before you think about a doctorate, you should ask yourself whether you are mentally prepared for it? Working on a PhD demands a lot from you and can push you to the limits of your mental health and stability.
What does “PhD” mean?
PhD stands for Doctor of Philosophy. This is one of the highest academic degrees that can be awarded. PhD is an abbreviation for the Latin term (Ph)ilosophiae (D)octor. Traditionally, the term “philosophy” refers not to the subject, but to its original Greek meaning, which roughly translates to “lover of wisdom.”
What is a Doctorate?
A doctorate is a qualification that confers a doctoral degree. To qualify for it, you must submit advanced work that makes a significant new contribution to knowledge in your field. If you do this, you will be awarded the title of “doctor” – hence the name.
So is a PhD different from a Doctorate? No. A PhD is a type of doctoral degree.
The PhD is the most common type of doctorate and is awarded in almost all subjects at universities around the world. Other PhDs are more specialized or for more practical and professional projects.
Basically, all PhDs are doctorates, but not all PhDs are PhDs.
The biggest challenges
Once you have completed your doctoral studies, the dissertation or doctoral program becomes the primary focus. Before starting, it can be helpful to know some of the challenges others face. Here are a few of them:
Getting started takes time
After you have decided on a topic, the first step in the dissertation or doctoral process is to create a synopsis. The synopsis summarizes the plan you will use to complete your project. Not just any topic will do. Your goal is to explore an aspect of your field that no one has explored in depth or with the method(s) you desire. In addition, your proposal must be submitted to a committee that will either approve you or ask you to make changes. Those who wish to begin writing their dissertation or thesis should keep in mind that preparing a proposal and getting it approved takes time and requires constant concentration.
There is a lot of back and forth
In most undergraduate courses, when you write an important paper, you don’t get feedback until the professor gives you a grade, and often you’ve been frustrated because you haven’t had a chance to correct the paper! This is not the case with a dissertation or a doctoral thesis. Instead, your faculty advisor will give you regular feedback, which may take some time, but will certainly strengthen your work. To move forward, you should manage your time to accommodate this editing process.
You need to manage your own time
Most students are used to attending class at certain times and turning in their papers on certain days. However, once you enter the dissertation or doctoral study phase, you will be expected to set your own deadlines and manage your own time. While this structure is meant to provide flexibility, some find it difficult to work without a set schedule. Develop strategies to be independent and stay motivated!
It’s also important to let your friends and family know about your educational plans so they understand that any shifts in your social or family schedule serve a good purpose. Make sure they have expectations about your time and availability.
Is a doctorate for me?
Below are some quick tips if you are just starting to think about a PhD:
Talk to your lecturers/tutors
The best thing to do is to ask people who have already earned a Ph.D. about their studies. Ask instructors at your current or previous university about their PhD experience – what they liked, what they didn’t, and what tips they have. If you’re considering a Ph.D. for an academic career, ask about that, too. Are the job prospects in your field good? And what is it really like to work at a university?
Talk to current doctoral students.
Want to know what it’s like to earn a doctorate now? Or what it’s like to do research at a particular university? Ask someone who knows.
Current PhD students were just like you a year or two ago, and most will be happy to answer questions. If you don’t have the opportunity to connect with students in person, visit any Postgraduate Forum – you’ll find many students there who are happy to talk about postgraduate research.
Take a look at advertised projects and programs.
This may sound like a strange suggestion. After all, you’re only going to do one PhD, so why should you find out about many others?
Well, if you look at the details of different PhD projects, you’ll get a good idea of what PhD research looks like. You’ll see what the various PhDs have in common and what unique opportunities might be available to you.
And with thousands of PhDs in our database, you already have a good starting point.
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