Getting the most from your PhD: Strategies for success

Postgraduate research can be a challenging process, an on-going negotiation of individual research and your personal role in a larger academic community. As your work progresses it is important to keep some strategies in mind in order to get the most from your PhD. These strategies can be applied to any area of research and will help you establish a constructive and solid academic identity in myriad spaces of engagement.

Ensuring the long-term appreciation and relevancy of your research can be achieved in several ways. First of all, it is useful to try to adapt your research to interdisciplinary studies. If you are working in a niche area this does not mean that you have to dumb down your research or adjust the scope of you tropic. However, it is always a good idea to be able to pinpoint ways in which your work contributes to other areas of study. When funding bodies then ask you to justify to your research, you can argue that there is a kind of interdisciplinary ecosystem which depends on the information you produce. Interacting with students from other areas can also give you a different perspective on your own work, and potentially open your eyes to new approaches you can then incorporate into your research.

Participating in public engagement and presenting your research in academic and non-academic and creative forums is another important way to guarantee high-impact research and the availability of future opportunities in your PhD and beyond. Planning and presenting at conferences, performing in contests or festivals, or creating some new way of showcasing your research and interacting with the public is important. It proves that your research has an immediate impact on your community outside of your office, enriching people’s lives as part of an on-going expression of academic potential. Like interdisciplinary studies, public engagement can also open your eyes to new possibilities and broader your horizons when dealing with research problems.

Most importantly, as you approach your postgraduate careers, developing as an active and enterprising student within a working community will prepare you for future endeavors and help you construct a research identity, both in the production of work and in the formation of an academic character. Promote your profile in research spaces, online, and in personal engagement and you will be able to stay on the cutting edge of your area and produce the most high-impact, high-quality research possible!

June 2015