Monday, May 30, 2011

How to get a PhD by Phillips and Pugh

This book review is based on the third edition of "How to get a PhD"

"How to get a PhD" covers a wide range of aspects and is stuffed with helpful advice for starting doctoral researchers. All chapters contain an action summary at the end, which sums up to most important ideas of that chapter. Although this book is clearly written from the perspective of British universities, it can be read by anyone outside.

Here's an overview of what I found particularly useful in this book:


1. Chapter 4: How not to get a PhD

Be aware of the seven way of not getting a PhD:
- not wanting a PhD
- overestimating what is required
- underestimating what is required
- having a supervisor who des not know what is required
- losing contact with your supervisor
- not having a 'thesis' (i.e. position, argument) to maintain
- taking a new job before completing.


Most books contain great advice on how to work towards your doctoral degrees, or point out what pitfalls you might encounter. Pointing out directly which behavior will totally boycott you from getting your degree, is not so common. This books devotes an entire chapter to this topic, and it's very helpful to be aware of these danger signs.

2. Chapter 8: How to manage your supervisor

Be aware that you must accept the responsibility for managing the relationship between you and your supervisor. It is too important to be left t chance.

Great advice, which I learned over time to be true. I initially thought my supervisors would keep close track of what I am doing, and would come to me regularly asking about my progress. I noticed it's quite different.

3. Preparing for the viva

Here's a tried and tested way of revising the complete thesis and preparing for the via, both at the same time.
First you take a maximum of three sheets of feint-ruled A$ paper (try to manage ith two if you can). You draw a straight vertical line down the centre of each sheet. You now have to sets of about 35 lines, i.e. 70 half lines. Each half line represents one page of your thesis. Now you number each half line. One to 35 are the left hand half laine and 36-70 are the right hand half lines on the first sheet of paper.
Next you take your time, say about two weeks, to write on every half line the main idea contained on the corresponding page of your thesis.


Sounds like some of the best advice I've read about preparing for your defense, and I'll try to implement it when I graduate (in more than 2 years from now).

4. Chapter 11: How to supervise and examine

In connection with chapter 8, this chapter gives the reader more insight in the relationship between student and supervisor. This chapter is written from the point of view of the supervisor, and is definitely wroth reading for students too. I was inspired by this chapter in my way of supervising master's students.

1 comment:

  1. HI Eva. It is a very worthwhile book, particularly doing a PhD in Britain. I read it after starting, but it would be a good read for anyone considering the PhD journey. Great recommendation!

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