Smart Strategies To Finish Ph.D. Degree Faster Without Delays
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Smart Strategies To Finish Ph.D. Degree Faster Without Delays

One of the things most Ph.D. students worry about is how long will it take them to finish everything – from doing their research and writing their dissertation to defend it and graduating. While others finish everything on time or shortly after the expected, there are those who struggle for several months, or even years, longer. Many others even choose to quit due to frustration.

This is what this article is all about. Outlined here are some of the common pitfalls that prolong a Ph.D.’s completion years, including the difficulties. In this article, steps and ways to avoid delays and graduate faster is outlined.

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Before we move forward to the tips to graduating faster, let us first tackle the three stages of a Ph.D.

Early Stage 

This is considered to be the first twelve to eighteen months. This is where research-related activities are done. Reviewing the literature, discussing important research questions, and coming up with a proposal for the Ph.D. research are just some of the foci of this stage.

Middle Stage 

This refers to the second, third, and, in some cases, part of the fourth years. Mostly, these years involve data collection. This is where healthy eating and sleeping habits are disrupted. In other words, this is also the time where you need that determination and discipline to avoid its adverse effect on performance and wellness.

Final Stage 

This is the last years of Ph.D., the fourth or fifth year or longer.

It is important to note though that these time frames vary from one person to another and between disciplines. Ideally, this is when the research is completed. Most of the times are spent in making sure loose ends are tied and a final version of the dissertation is created. Then, of course, the defense, above all, also takes place during this stage.

Reasons for Delays

The reasons for delays are varied, but for the purpose of this article, we will only tackle research-related and dissertation-production issues.

  1. Slow start. This is the most common reason for a delay. Some students do not get to work as early as they should, and if this happens, other activities, as well as the timeline, is compromised. The solution? Do not procrastinate.
  2. Satisfaction issues. Another common reason for the delay is not being satisfied with anything. It could be on the student or supervisor side. Because of this, projects are never concluded; they might never even commence. Perfectionism should be left behind in terms of progress.
  3. Another major reason is the distraction from everything else that’s happening in your life. This could be anything that is not related to your Ph.D. goal. Temptations, curiosity, and other life events are just some of the distractions. This could also refer to spending too much time on tasks that hamper their progress – and growth.
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Strategies For Avoiding Delays

So now that we have gathered some of the reasons for the delay, it’s about time that we discuss some of the strategies for avoiding these delays. The following are just some of the strategies. It may be effective for some while it may not totally work for some. Nonetheless, it is still important that you get the idea.

Use the Ph.D. Committee, Not Just Your Supervisor

In many doctoral programs, Ph.D. students often do not use all the resources that are available to them, including the efficient use of a Ph.D. committee. Some just go straight with their supervisors when planning their thesis and monitoring their progress. In fact, this has been referred to as the normal way of doing things in the Ph.D. world today. The truth is that one could really make use of other faculty members to help with whatever they are doing at the moment. Do not be contented with just working side by side with your supervisors. On the other hand, the supervisors can also make the first step and introduce their students to their faculty colleagues. Gain knowledge, advice, and feedback from every possible person who you think are capable of providing one.

For the resourceful ones, it is important to note that they usually create their Ph.D. dissertation committees as early as possible. This usually takes place after deciding on the general aims or scope of their research. To make it clearer and to jumpstart the process, it is best that everything is a written proposal and has it evaluated by the committee, including, but not limited to, a supervisor.

Be always on top of your game and do not expect anyone else to do it on your behalf or take over. In fact, it is advisable that one should set up a regular progress-report meeting with the Ph.D. committee. When many people are involved, it is less likely the student will fall behind without anyone noticing.

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Write Every Day

Even when you don’t’ feel like it or if you’re in the somehow experiencing a “mental block” or a “writer’s block” it is crucial that you write every day. This cannot be emphasized enough as it is one of the most important habits you need to develop. One does not become a good writer overnight; it takes a lot of practice. On the other hand, every student knows you can always find something to write about; there is always something in need of being written up.

Practicing and developing some good writing habits will come in handy as you go your way up the doctoral program. It will smoothen too as you progress year by year.

As Dave G. Mumby, Ph.D. would say, “Writing frequently will reveal gaps in one’s knowledge or understanding. Vague and disorganized writing often reflects vague and disorganized thinking. Writing about complex arguments or concepts helps most people understand them more deeply.”

Don’t Be Passive

The degree of self-reliance is one of the striking difference that can be noticed between undergraduate and graduate. They should realize that it is totally up to them to teach and train themselves. The sooner they get this, the sooner they start with working their way up and getting things done. They should keep in mind that the graduate supervisor’s primary role is just to track and facilitate their self-education. Again, no one will do it for you. You might also consider seeking knowledge and advice from a professor. It’s all up to you.

Do not waste much of your time – whether weeks or months – waiting for your supervisor to make the first step. Do not dilly dally and procrastinate, hoping that your supervisor will come to you and dictate your steps.

Make the initiative to make things happen and avoid losing so much time. For instance, arrange the necessary meetings with your supervisor and members of your Ph.D. committee as early as possible.

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The point here is that you should take matters into your own hands and give a good impression to others. People will see this as a positive value and they might just put out good words for you in the future.

To sum it up, spoon-feeding is not a thing for this stage in your life. A slow start, even though a start, is still equal to the time lost. So avoid this at all cost.

Know Who Your Potential Supervisors Are Before Making a Commitment

This is much more applicable for those who are just entering the graduate school as compared to those who are already in the Ph.D. program.

Believe it or not, but interpersonal problems that arise between a student and a supervisor usually account for a large percent of dropouts in the program. A graduate student and supervising professor cannot continue to work together if they can’t have mutual respect, let alone have the patience to face and talk with each other.

The best alternative to avoiding this is to check your potential supervisors and learn as much as you can about them. It is not necessary (and advisable) that you go up to them and ask them yourselves. This might just give off a negative impression. Looking for clues and maybe observing from afar will help. You can ask around too, but make it subtle. Doing this will avoid the inevitable and will save you from losing more of your precious time.

These are just four of the strategies you can do to avoid delays. Remember, in this path you are taking, eyes will be on you. They will watch you every step of the way and will notice just how you handle difficult situations and challenges. Just always have that positive mindset and continue to do your best at all times. Also, learn to be patient with yourself and allow yourself to grow. There will be stumbling blocks along the way; use them for your own good. Work closely and diligently with your supervisor and other professors. Just put in mind that you might be needing letters of recommendation from them in the future.

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