Getting a PhD
Writing more persuasively
While conducting research is at the core of the PhD, assessment of the quality of the work is made through your ability to effectively persuade readers of the value of its contribution to your field. Clearly, writing the dissertation – whether a monograph or a series of papers – is a major writing task; however, there are many kinds of writing that form part of doctoral work, for example, abstracts, conference proposals, scholarship applications.
Learning to write effectively can be a challenging process, one that benefits from feedback from not just doctoral supervisors but also others in your network. An additional advantage is that feedback may help you to prepare for the viva examination, as Elizabeth reported about her experiences as part of a writing group:
We didn’t realise it at the time, but it was good preparation for the viva, because you’d be saying, well, why are you saying [that] why aren’t you doing this; so that, if you were ever questioned ‘why didn’t you look at such-and-such’s work’, at least you knew that you’d looked at it and dismissed it and had a reason, you know, justification for doing so. So it was very good for that.
In addition to communication with others, writing about your research can hone your thinking processes and enhance your understanding of the topic. Sarah noted this when she explained the purpose of drafting an outline of her research proposal:
I draft something …so …I can know which direction I can take; how I can modify it …I needed to write something in order to start to think …that’s all
At the same time, many individuals reported difficulties, for instance, John reported:
My supervisors tell me to stop reading and start writing, but it’s…easier to go read something else, so to look at the literature again, then it is to write something new. I think it’s hard...
In sum, this section provides tools to help you think about
the breadth of your writing experience
writing strategies to help you be more effective and confident
how to use the structures of academic writing to convince readers of your argument
how to get regular feedback by setting up a writing group
Explore the other themes
Researcher Identity Development (2020).
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Improving the careers and well-being of researchers
Building your network
Many research participants understood that interpersonal networking was a powerful resource. However, fewer recognized that their investment in reading, i.e. building their inter-textual networking, was critical to successful writing. This section provides resources to help you develop your networks more strategically. More...
Financing the PhD
This was a challenge for many research participants, even those with scholarships. This section raises some of the issues to be aware of, and how you might manage them. More...
Understanding academic institutions
In our research several of the PhD candidates chose their location without considering the suitability of the institution for their research, study or personal needs. Even after their PhD was underway, many research participants remained unaware of the institutional resources available (e.g., funding for conference presentations, free research-related software, and career development workshops). Understanding the diversity of academic institutions can help you to make informed decisions regarding where to enroll and how to access resources to support your PhD studies. More...
Many PhD researchers did not think about careers until near the end of their degrees, and found they should have started earlier. This section provides some ideas to get you started. More...