for PhD students
Thanks also to Louise Kelly & Jools Simner…
• Overview of the PhD cycle
– How to get a PhD, and how not to get one!
– Important milestones and the PhD “hourglass”
• Working effectively with your supervisor
• Research management
– Dealing with difficulties and obstacles
• ERI learning lunches
– ESRC Postdoctoral Fellowship scheme, 9th Oct
– Nuffield Foundation, 16th Oct
– www.myed.ed.ac.uk, or email firstname.lastname@example.org
• Publishing using LaTeX
– 22nd & 23rd Nov
– Transkills Science & Engineering
– See http://www.transkills.ed.ac.uk/
Some home truths
• You didn‟t get here by mistake
• You don‟t have to be a genius!
– PG study = reasonable intelligence + tenacity + interest
What is a PhD?
• A bit like cabinet-making…
– Apprenticeship, learning skills needed to be a researcher
– Demonstrating those skills
• Your first piece of work, not your best
– Running an imperfect expt is better than no expt at all
– Writing something bad is better than writing nothing
• May not contain everything you have done
• May contain things that did not work as intended
• May represent the journey that you have taken
Does the thesis…
• Make a significant, original contribution?
• Contain material worthy of publication?
• Show adequate knowledge of the field?
• Represent a unified body of work
– which could reasonably be achieved on the basis of 3 years of
• Show satisfactory literary presentation?
• Give full and adequate references and have a coherent
PhD cycle and milestones
Year 1 Year 2 Year 3
• Lit review? • Study visit? • Writing up
• PG conference/s • Start writing up • Writing papers?
• Year 1 report • PG conference/s • PG conference/s
• Progression • Other conferences? • International
• Year 2 report
• Progression • Submit end year 3
meeting • Viva voce
The PhD hourglass
• Your time
– multi-tasking focusing multi-tasking
• Your thesis
– general specific general
• Your enthusiasm!
– lots not quite so much lots!
(keep an eye on the sands of time…!)
How NOT to get a PhD
• Not WANTING a PhD
• Underestimating the nature of a PhD
• Overestimating the nature of a PhD
• Having a supervisor who doesn‟t understand what is required
• Losing contact with your supervisor/peers
• Not having a „thesis‟
• Taking on a big NEW „job‟ before you finish.
• Poor planning and management of project
• Methodological difficulties in the research
• Writing up
• Personal problems outside research
• Inadequate or negligent supervision
All of these have solutions!
• Supervisors are generally benevolent
• But have their failings:
– Competing demands for attention
• Teaching, research, admin as well as research supervision
– Personality/interaction style
• You and your supervisor need to have reasonable
expectations of each other
Spotlight of supervisory attention
Or, how many yolks in your fried egg?
Establishing your relationship
• Regular meetings versus “on demand” meetings
• How do you want to be managed?
– Beating with a stick versus gentle encouragement
– Strict deadlines versus free rein
• How does your supervisor want to be managed?
– Reminders helpful versus irritating
• Written reports versus verbal reports
– Send material before versus after meetings
• Implicit versus explicit discussion of needs
– Telepathy versus bulletted list
Getting the most out of meetings
• Before the meeting
– Set your objectives and agenda
– What to discuss? What do you need to prepare?
• At the meeting
– Take notes
– Formulate an action plan (and schedule next meeting?)
• After the meeting
– Circulate a summary of the discussion
– Add to a research diary once agreed?
Try to foster good relations
– The person you clash with today may be reviewing your
paper/grant application tomorrow
– Appreciate the support staff for their efforts
“your success in graduate school and beyond
depends a great deal upon your ability to build and
maintain interpersonal relationships, with your
adviser, the research staff, the support staff and
your fellow students.”
Tensions with supervisors
• It happens – how serious is it?
• Irritating but not detrimental?
– Take the time to explain how you feel
– Let off steam to your peers? (but remember the politics!)
• Protocols for switching supervisor if serious
– Code of Practice for Supervisors & Students
– Sergio Della Sala (s1), Fernanda Ferreira (s2)
– Ronnie Cann/Chris Clarke (??)
Managing your workload
… and what to do if it goes a bit pear-shaped
• How to be an Effective Researcher (Nov 8th & 9th)
– PhD project planning, effective working practices, maximising
– Managing your supervisor, working with others, negotiating,
– Planning for the future
• Time Management
– Oct 31st, Nov 24th, Feb 27th, May 16th
– Refresher Session - June 25th
Research Other yolks in your egg
• Reading • Academic development
• Preparing experiments – Seminars, tutoring
– Preparing stimuli • Skills training
– Norming/pre-testing – e.g., tutoring workshops
– Writing scripts • Admin and organisation
• Collecting data – e.g., running PG conference
• Analysing data • Networking
– Conferences and workshops
– Other organisations
Time management tips
• Establish your priorities
– Each evening write a plan for
but not AND
the next day?
• Know thyself
– A 9-5 job or something else?
– Work around peaks & troughs Important but not
of productivity nor Urgent Important
• Regularly review targets
– SMART goals Urgency
SMART goals: Specific, Measurable, Agreed-upon, Time-framed, and…
R is for realistic!
• Give yourself interim targets and deadlines
– Next action: Could be a tiny little task!
• Everything takes longer than you think it will
– E.g., waiting for ethical approval (~2 weeks)
• Build “slack time” into your planning
• People are fallible and may need reminders!
Getting organised (1)
• Keep a note of everything you do and read
– Useful for writing your Progress Reports
– Up-to-date annotated bibliography (e.g., Endnote)
• Keep a research diary and an “ideas file”
– Key design decisions
– Ideas and action points from supervisory meetings
– Start a blog? (e.g., at www.wordpress.com)
Getting organised (2)
• Create sensible admin systems (e.g., file names)
• Keep notes about your spreadsheets/data files
– E.g., coding, or how you‟ve labelled your columns
– This could all go in your research diary
• Write up method sections and results summaries
– Working papers can help you clarify your ideas
What if it’s not going well?
• Talk about it!
– Supervisors, other members of group, friends and peers
– The Advice Place: www.eusa.ed.ac.uk/advice/
• Student counselling service
– Procrastination workshops (Oct 17th, Nov 21st)
– Stress and Relaxation workshops
How to get a PhD: A handbook for
students and their supervisors
Estelle Phillips & Derek Pugh (2005)
The Unwritten Rules of PhD Research
Gordon Rugg & Marian Petre (2004)
– Psycholinguistics coffee
– Departmental seminars (if relevant or interesting)
– Postgraduate seminars
• Language at Edinburgh lunches
• Linguistic Circle
… and some more
• ICCS seminars
• Interdisciplinary Tea
• PPIG reading group
• Postgraduates Who Teach (PGwT)
• ESRC National Centre for Research Methods
• Scottish Psycholinguistics