Category Archives: PhD Students

Reflections on completing my PhD

I passed my Viva Voce three weeks ago today and I can honestly say that I am still riding the crest of an amazing emotional high.  I chuckle to myself regularly as I reflect that I am now officially Dr Saunders.  Friends, family and even my kids have had to get used to addressing me as Dr Fi, although I am sure that the novelty of this will eventually wear off – for them, if not for me!

Looking back, I was a reluctant PhD student. Much cajoling and a couple of metaphorical kicks were required from the Head of my Research Group, Professor Andy Gale, before I took the plunge and enrolled on a part-time doctorate at The University of Manchester.  My youngest was only 2 at the time, and it seemed folly, bordering on madness to attempt to squeeze serious intellectual endeavour into my already jammed-packed life.  And yet, now that I have finished I am so proud of my achievement that I wanted to share some reflections for those considering whether to embark on their own PhD journey. Continue reading Reflections on completing my PhD

Twitter as Ersatz PhD Supervisor

As a busy mum of two, I knew that embarking on a part-time PhD was going to test me.  I also learned very quickly that I would  have to stand on my own two feet as a researcher if I was going to survive my PhD.  Fortunately starting my PhD coincided with me joining Twitter (the oft maligned social network) and what a relief it was to discover within the Twittersphere a veritable treasure trove of tips and top advice for every stage of the PhD journey.Twitter_FS2

Twitter has been a constant companion throughout my PhD journey ( I am in my final year now).  Yes, Twitter has regularly distracted me and allowed me to indulge in bouts of procrastination but it has given me so much more than this.  Continue reading Twitter as Ersatz PhD Supervisor

That elusive yet essential first PhD journal publication

A PhD has not earned the moniker “Persistence, hard work and determination” for nothing.  In my experience as a part-time doctoral researcher at The University of Manchester, undertaking a PhD is less about having a brain the size of a planet and more about the ability to focus relentlessly on the research topic – as it morphs from a vague set of research ideas and a mass of background literature into a more tightly defined set of research questions and well designed research study.  This relentless focus requires persistence, hard work and determination – even on those days when you just don’t know what to do next and the whole PhD endeavour seems utterly overwhelming.

One vivid illustration of persistence in the PhD process is the task of publishing journal papers. Continue reading That elusive yet essential first PhD journal publication

The PhD as a project (Part 2)

In last month’s post we discussed the similarities between a PhD and a project and the first two lessons from the world of project management.  This month we turn our attention to three further project management techniques that can be effectively deployed through a PhD.

Firstly the biggest single barrier to project success is lack of clear scope. Continue reading The PhD as a project (Part 2)