7 Things You Probably Don’t Know about Pursuing a Ph.D. Degree
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7 Things You Probably Don’t Know about Pursuing a Ph.D. Degree

Pursuing a doctorate degree is one of the highly chosen carrier options in the world. Today, there are 740,000 students or 2 in every 1000 adult population are enrolled in Ph.D.

Ph.D. means Doctor of Philosophy or DPhil. It comes from the Latin word docere which means “to teach” and the Greek word philosophia meaning “love of wisdom.” Every student who enrolls in Ph.D. is required to complete a final project which is focused on a predetermined topic. It is often referred to as a foundation for specialist expertise but what it means depends on the opportunity that you decide to seize. Below we have listed 7 Things You Probably Don’t Know about Pursuing a Ph.D. Degree.

Getting a Ph.D. Degree is a long process. It starts by submitting a research proposal which normally contains the topic to research on, research format, and methodology. Once approved, you can choose an adviser who will act as your primary consultant throughout the actual writing process.

Most schools in world require thesis to be at least 100,000 words. It has to follow a certain outline, edited, and proofread before being presented to a panel of examiners. You are expected to defend your thesis before them and answer all the questions they have regarding your thesis.  After an extensive proofing, you can now publish your work in an academic journal.

If you Google the word Ph.D., you’ll probably see hundreds of results pointing to different books and magazines. However, in this article, I will share with you the seven issues about Ph.D. and how to solve them.

Writer’s block.  This is a condition where you suddenly find yourself stuck. You don’t know what to write causing delays in your thesis progress. With so many things going on the writing process, it is normal to have a writer’s block at a certain point. When you experience this, try to take a break. Go to a new place, have a coffee, and find new inspiration. Reading also helps to exercise your brain cells and capture more ideas. Don’t depend on one book when writing your thesis. Try to research more resources and authors so you can get more information. 

A lot of reading to do. Reading is a secret ingredient of a powerful thesis. Expect that you will have a lot of readings to do as you encounter questions along the way. If you think your resources are not enough, try to go to another library. Get three books on a particular topic and compare what the different authors have to say. You can also use the internet, leverage the newspapers, or get more ideas from journals and other publications. Remember, completing a Ph.D. degree is not race. It is a marathon.

Lack of motivation. A study in the UK shows that three out ten doctoral students don’t finish their degree within seven years. This is usually caused by many factors that can happen throughout the writing process such as losing someone, failing in a relationship, or simple tediousness. Motivate yourself by creating a schedule to push you to make timely progress. Take a rest if you feel tired but don’t quit. Most of all, nothing beats the motivation of having someone who cheers you up. It could be your significant other, your friends, or your family.

Forgetting things. With so many calculations and comparisons going in your thesis, it is normal to forget things. You tend to forget important pages, authors, and numerical figures. Sometimes you forget a piece of relevant information from the book you just read because you forgot to take note of them. My advice is to have a research diary. This is very helpful especially if you are doing a quantitative research wherein you deal with a lot of numerical data and figures. So everytime you make changes, just jot them down to your research diary. Whenever an idea pops out in your head, write it down immediately. Track every decision you make, every data you add and delete, and whatever variables you may have changed.

Questioning the relevance of your study.  According to the OECD, doctoral holders are expected to play a key role in the society. It follows that your thesis must be relevant enough to the society so that you can contribute more knowledge to science and technology. But is your thesis relevant? It’s normal to feel anxious whether your thesis would contribute something to the society. One way to assure yourself is to ask your adviser whether your thesis makes sense at all. Read original works for your resources. For example, if you are using Adam Smith in your thesis don’t rely on someone else’s work. Try to ind his original works and read them yourself.


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Loneliness. Most of the time, you will be writing your thesis alone which makes it really boring. Sometimes it takes two to three hours to write a paragraph. Within these three hours, it is just going to be you, your books and your computer. Unfortunately, you can’t write thesis in just one day. So this process can go for months or even years if you cannot finish it on time. According to a study in the University of California, one half of post graduate students suffer from depression because of loneliness in having to work alone. To avoid loneliness, make it a habit to talk to your colleagues. Ask about their updates, throw some relevant questions, or just hang out together. Don’t forget to connect with your adviser. He is the best person you can turn to whenever you need a direction for your thesis. Lastly, talk to your friends, significant other, and family. They’re the best medicine for loneliness.

Explaining your thesis. When you talk to friends, families, or colleagues they will most likely ask about your thesis. What’s your thesis about? What are you studying about? When are you graduating? These series of questions lead to a lot of information that they will probably not understand if you choose to answer the way you want to. When you’re asked these questions, you will also feel pressured, intimidated, and confused. Sometimes you feel like you don’t even know how to explain your thesis anymore. When you find that yourself in this situation, just relax. I suggest that you prepare a summary of your thesis – that is your four years of thesis and 100,000 words into one or two phrases only. Just imagine this as a test of how much you know about your thesis. As you see, there is no hard-and-fast rule about how to complete your Ph.D. Some people work throughout the weekdays and attend classes over the weekend. Others work from 9am to 5pm, and write thesis in the evening.

The process is all up to you. Just remember, the secret to completing your Ph.D. is perseverance and willpower.

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Shekhar Suman is the CEO & Managing Director of BioTecNika Info Labs Pvt Ltd, An avid reader who is passionate about Bio Sciences and has gifted us BioTecNika


  1. Thank you so much for this info! I am a post graduate student and I have had a mini experience of having developed mind block whilst performing my experiments in the past 1 year of my internship. I didn’t however get to excel at those completely primarily because of the delays in the arrival of important reagents caused by GST that overhauled the whole tax system in our country last year. Secondly, being forgetful and feeling lonelier were the secondary symptoms while I had been waiting for those to arrive and it took 4 good long months to arrive -_- Thank you so much! I felt that it was just me who had some issues going on in my head pertaining to mind block!

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