9 ways to solve 90% of your PhD problems
𝟏. 𝐓𝐡𝐞𝐫𝐞 𝐢𝐬 𝐧𝐨 𝐚𝐥𝐭𝐞𝐫𝐧𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐯𝐞 𝐭𝐨 𝐡𝐚𝐫𝐝 𝐰𝐨𝐫𝐤: When you put your blood and sweat into it, you will be rewarded. The same goes true for PhD. Hard work always pays off. It’s not easy but it’s worth it – this you will find out after successfully completing a solid PhD.
𝟐. 𝐃𝐢𝐟𝐟𝐞𝐫𝐞𝐧𝐭𝐢𝐚𝐭𝐞 𝐛𝐞𝐭𝐰𝐞𝐞𝐧 𝐰𝐨𝐫𝐤𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐧𝐤𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐚𝐛𝐨𝐮𝐭 𝐰𝐨𝐫𝐤: Working is when you are productive – writing a paper, analyzing data, preparing a presentation, etc. Thinking about work is when you are worried but not productive. It just creates an illusion of work. When it’s time to work, work, and when it’s time to enjoy, forget about work.
𝟑. 𝐈𝐝𝐞𝐧𝐭𝐢𝐟𝐲 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐫𝐞𝐦𝐨𝐯𝐞 𝐝𝐢𝐬𝐭𝐫𝐚𝐜𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧𝐬: PhD requires good focus. Anything that goes into your head and negatively distracts you, remove them. This could be a person in your surrounding, a social media platform, or an activity. You can do good research when you are happy and focused.
𝟒. 𝐓𝐡𝐞𝐫𝐞 𝐢𝐬 𝐧𝐨 𝐬𝐮𝐜𝐡 𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐚𝐬 𝐩𝐞𝐫𝐟𝐞𝐜𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧: PhD is to be completed in a specific period of time. Don’t wait for perfect outcomes – be that a paper, the outcome of an experiment, or a presentation. Have it in decent shape, discuss it with your supervisors, and get it out such as submission to a journal.
𝟓. 𝐈𝐭’𝐬 𝐧𝐞𝐯𝐞𝐫 𝐠𝐨𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐭𝐨 𝐛𝐞 𝐢𝐝𝐞𝐚𝐥: My PhD topic is not good, my dataset is not good, and the reviewers are not good. Understand that it’s never going to be ideal. Champions are the ones who win despite hurdles – be a champion.
𝟔. 𝐂𝐡𝐞𝐫𝐢𝐬𝐡 𝐬𝐦𝐚𝐥𝐥 𝐬𝐮𝐜𝐜𝐞𝐬𝐬: Succes in PhD is often defined by a paper acceptance or thesis clearance. This means only 4-5 moments of success. So, from where you will get motivation? You should cherish small achievements such as getting good results from an experiment, your work getting cited, receiving appraisal for your idea, and so on.
7. 𝐒𝐭𝐚𝐫𝐭 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐟𝐢𝐠𝐮𝐫𝐞 𝐢𝐭 𝐨𝐮𝐭 𝐨𝐧 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐰𝐚𝐲: Don’t look for a perfect research gap. Start your research and you will figure it out on the way. Don’t pick dead topics. It’s easy to find which topics are dead. One way is to check the last 3 years’ proceedings of top conferences and journals. If there are no papers on the topic, it is a red signal.
8. 𝐔𝐭𝐢𝐥𝐢𝐳𝐞 𝐲𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐬𝐮𝐩𝐞𝐫𝐯𝐢𝐬𝐨𝐫𝐬 𝐭𝐨 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐦𝐚𝐱: Seek concrete feedback from your supervisors. Learn how they modify your paper draft or slides. Ask explicit questions – should I use method X or Y for data analysis and why?
9. 𝐏𝐡𝐃 𝐢𝐬 𝐩𝐚𝐫𝐭 𝐨𝐟 𝐲𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐥𝐢𝐟𝐞, 𝐧𝐨𝐭 𝐲𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐞𝐧𝐭𝐢𝐫𝐞 𝐥𝐢𝐟𝐞: Don’t overburden yourself with PhD activities. Keep a good balance. If you are happy and healthy, it will contribute to your PhD too. So, be happy and make others around you feel the same.
Writer: Faheem Ullah
Computer Science, Australia