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What was the best piece of advice that you received during your doctorate?

Written by Dr Katryna Kalawsky

Hindsight is a great thing…and so is foresight! Drawing both together, I thought it would be useful to our current doctoral researchers to share what some members of staff at Loughborough University considered to be the best piece of advice that they received during their doctorate:

“Just get writing” – Dr Manuel Alonso

“I can’t remember specific piece of advice as such but I do remember the feeling of being listened to/heard then by colleagues I hold dear today such as @rolsi_journal” – Professor Elizabeth Peel

“Get writing from the start. Even if what you write doesn’t make the final cut, just the process of writing helps to refine your thinking and direction. It’s also good for helping you realise you’re making progress when you feel like you’re not.” – Dr Janine Coates

“Can’t remember one specific piece of advice, just constant support and guidance. Though @Tweed_Heley saying “Are you going the pub later?” always came in handy!!” – Dr John Harrison

“Don’t spend time making the thesis ‘perfect’. PhD is not the peak of the academic (or any other) career, it’s just the first step. The thesis has to be good – but don’t months changing words, tweaking colours of figures, and adjusting formatting.  Also treating my PhD as a job worked really well for me. I tried working 8 to 5 (ish), taking time off, having hobbies. It often didn’t work but it helped me to learn to manage my time better!” – Dr Ksenia Chmutina

“Work with a live thesis draft from the start. This really helped me to structure my work and keep me focused. Having a live draft throughout my #PhD also meant I was not overwhelmed by the prospect of having to write it all at the end.” – Dr Ksenija Kuzmina

“I guess that I can do it and I’m not a fraud. Over the last decade I’ve heard SO many fantastic and eminent colleagues confess they they didn’t do well at school or didn’t think they were that bright…don’t underestimate yourself. Work hard (90% perspiration/10% inspiration).”– Dr Ash Casey

“Set yourself achievable goals!! (Something which I should still follow to this day….) There’s no point setting yourself up for failure by trying to do too much. Take it step by step.”– Dr Sophie Croachman

“Expect phases of trial and error; sometimes you learn the most when things don’t go according to plan!”. I didn’t always believe this at the time (let’s be honest we want things to go as smoothly as possible!), but now, post doctorate, I TOTALLY get it! Reflection is powerful. When things don’t go according to plan, IT’S OK! Think it through (but don’t dwell), be honest, and feed forward what you learnt onto the next challenge!” – Dr Katryna Kalawsky


Please feel free to share your thoughts and advice to our doctoral researchers on this topic via the blog comments box or via TwitterAfter all, one of the many aspects of ‘kindness’ (the theme of Mental Health Awareness Week 2020) is about taking time out for others.

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