How to get a PhD

I mentioned this book before when I came across it in an article in The Guardian’s archives.  After reading ‘Authoring a PhD’ I wanted a book that described the process of research and what doing a PhD involves, rather than just writing the thesis.  This is without doubt an excellent reference if you’re looking for an overall description of virtually everything.  For example, it sheds light on the vagueness associated with words such as ‘originality’ and describes how a ‘Literature Review’ should be made relevant – something I noticed missing in some of the theses I’ve been scanning.  Another chapter I found very useful is the one about the relationship with the supervisor(s).

It gets great reviews on Amazon and I agree that it’s an excellent start – and companion – to anyone doing a PhD.  I read the older edition (my wife found it among her books from her PhD days).  The current one is the fifth and you can find it here and there is a Kindle version too.

Authoring a PhD

Having read the many positive reviews this book gets on Amazon, I thought it was time I had a look at it before my reading time becomes more focussed on my research. I’m still not 100% sure about my place on a programme but it’s looking good and my offer letter will be with me ‘in the next few weeks’ according to Admissions.

This book, in my opinion, is a little too long. I find myself skipping paragraphs and sections. Having said that, if I had to remove a section I would find it difficult to choose – so this is probably an unfair criticism. The chapter summaries are very useful if, like me, you’re looking for a quick read. It is very well written and covers everything about ‘authoring’ hence the title. It’s not a book about doing a PhD which is probably what I need to be reading at this stage. It’s more about the thesis itself and research planning. I need to know/learn more about the actual process, expectations of and from supervisors.

Amazon link and there is also a Kindle edition

Find a PhD

In preparation for the work that I will hopefully start soon, I have been searching for forums and blogs about PhDs and found a great place which has already been of help.  I joined their forum as a prospective student and asked a question in the forum about where to find archives of successful theses.  I received a reply within minutes, garnished with words of encouragement.

Check out the link below for everything you can imagine you would need to know about doing a PhD and click the link on the top right hand corner for the Postgrad Forum.

Link: http://www.findaphd.com/

Light

Photons of light are racing through the tunnel giving me hope of a start. I’ve learned in the past few months to assume the worst, and this light should therefore be considered as nothing but a speeding train racing toward me before I can contemplate which way to jump.

It does look a little better than that, I admit, and I will know for sure in the next ‘few weeks’. Until then I am again able to start making some plans, reading up on the subject of my research, and even starting to think how to introduce more focus into it.

Sleeping much better tonight.

It’s as simple as 1 3 2

I have been working so long in industry that I take it for granted how a customer is always King. My adventure with applications to different universities has been mixed to say the least. Websites are not updated and many links are corrupted. Faculty are working in silos and there is no focal point from the university’s side to talk about a particular research idea. The structure of the programme is only clearly presented by some institutions; and the guidelines are clear and detailed but often miss something as fundamental as a start date! I can’t help thinking that if I worked this way in my current, how many orders would we have missed?

The first step is to identify a potential supervisor which means it is my job to read the profiles of faculty and contact them with my proposal. To me it sounds strange that I, the customer, will do this work. The Admissions people simply advise you to contact the relevant experts. I understand why this is necessary, but there is no way of knowing who is and, more importantly, is not available to supervise! I am often writing to a professor and finding out a week or so later that he or she is not taking on new students. Only a couple forwarded my proposal internally to colleagues (why this is not the norm makes me want to punch my screen) and only one of those replied. Of all the universities I considered, only one profile of one faculty member mentioned that he was looking for students.

It is simple. But frankly not simple enough. It lacks a logic that I believe exists in the pragmatic and effective commercial world. The theoretical nature of academia means I am having to make people look down through the clouds at the real world in order to move things along.

The waiting is difficult, but it should not be much longer now…

What If…

A few years ago, we packed our London house, rented it out, moved to a short-let apartment near Kew Bridge and I typed my letter of resignation.  I had a job offer from Kuwait University, pending a place in a university, and I was ready to move to Washington DC.  I was looking at when to go, only to realize that the ‘approved’ list of institutions by KU had changed.  Our belongings were in storage by then;  Our son, Yousef, was just over a year old and our daughter was beginning  her journey to join us in this world.  Life had other plans for us, and when Noor was three months old, we were back in Kuwait.

Fast forward to last night.  Work is great but some challenges at management level are leaving me frustrated.  It was acceptable until last week when actions spoke louder than words and my actions had to be equal and opposite!  I made it clear that what happened was unfair and unacceptable.  It wasnt enough.  I needed to change jobs before I loose my fantastic relationships with so many great peoples in a wonderful organization.  It was simply not worth it over one person!

So in considering options, I mentioned (almost jokingly) the idea of a PhD.  We  had a ‘what if’ conversation and I started pacing up and down our living room as my wife and I discussed ideas on how to bring me back onto the academic road. Is this really an option?

Five hours later, I was still pacing!