The second option

No matter how well you plan your project, there will be times when things go wrong. How you react to the unexpected is the most important determining factor in your success.

On local academic culture

Every PhD is a different, not only in terms of the research you do but also the environment in which you do it.

Some of the variation is a natural consequence of national culture; doing a PhD in the UK is quite different to doing one in the Japan, for example, simply because the cultures are quite different. So if you go to work in a different culture, you need to be aware of the local customs and expectations.

But beyond national variation, there is also great variation within the borders of individual nations and institutions. You need to be aware of the local academic culture, customs and expectations within your specific research group.

Is social media essential for PhD students?

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I’ve seen a few posts recently about the importance of PhD students using social media. While there may be some utility, for some students, in building a following on facebook, twitter or linkedin, I find it disturbing that some high-profile bloggers are talking about social media as if it is an essential tool for all […]

Why I can’t stand twitter

As a blogger, the common wisdom says that I should use twitter. I’ve tried… but I just can’t stand it. Supposedly, it helps you build a network and engage with an audience, but the quality of that engagement is unspeakably poor. Recently, I’ve been trying to respond to tweets that mention me, but I’m often […]

How to prepare for your thesis defence

Defending your thesis can be an intensely nerve-wracking experience. How can you best prepare to face your examiners? Know the format of your thesis defence The format of the defence varies from country to country. Having studied in the UK, my viva-voce defence was essentially an interview with one internal and one external examiner. In […]

Why most writing advice does not work


There is a huge amount of writing advice available for PhD students. There are countless books and blogs and writing coaches doing their best to help, and a lot of the advice is fairly similar. Write every day, from the start of your PhD Don’t think too much, just get words down on the page […]