Skip to content Accessibility statement

Bumps in the road

Doing a PhD is not a linear process. A lot of students experience setbacks or doubts about their findings, or the scope of their research. These challenges are often no bad thing - they will improve your thesis and deepen your understanding of the topic.

This is a marathon where things are often less urgent than they seem. Many things during your PhD will elicit strong emotions. Never act on them immediately; let the feelings pass and respond with a clearer mindset.

- Dan, Year 2

Be open to change. Your initial project will change, the conditions in your department or staff will change, things around you may change. Stay flexible and open, seeing change as a healthy opportunity to grow and take things in a different direction. - Marina, Year 3

Just before I started my fieldwork, my supervisor’s parting words to me were, ‘If everything goes right, then you’re doing something wrong!’ This sounds odd but it’s very true - life happens and gets in the way, and a large part of doing research is learning to make room for that. Reflecting on the surprises and changes along the way is key to a successful PhD, and will make your work all the richer.

- Jamie, Year 4

Start simple and keep it simple. There is the temptation to believe that for your PhD work to be a novel contribution it has to be extremely complex but most of the time the gap in knowledge starts with a simple aspect from which you can expand and build a more complex and nuanced argument.

- Tabitha, Post-doc