Personal PhD coaching with James Hayton

Take control of your PhD and get it done!

Since 2010, I've worked with a lot of PhD students (well over 400 the last time I counted) from a huge range of academic disciplines.

I've seen so many different situations cause stress, but I've also seen how many of them are very solvable with the right approach (and the solutions are often easier than you might think).

As a PhD coach, my aims are to help you:

  • take control of your project
  • write better, faster
  • make key decisions about your project
  • develop your research skills
  • teach you key principles you can apply independently
  • avoid common problems and mistakes

Ultimately, the goal is to:

  • teach you the skills, processes and ways of thinking you need to carry on independently with confidence

I'm currently not taking on any new one-to-one coaching clients, but you can join my PhD academy programme where you'll find courses and ongoing support. Check it out at

My approach to PhD coaching

Although every client is different, there are 3 main elements every time I coach somebody...

How I approach writing feedback

A lot of PhD supervisors only give writing feedback once you have a complete draft. I do things a bit differently...

Coaching packages are tailor made to your individual needs. The descriptions below are to give you an idea of the kind of approach taken depending on the stage of your PhD.

1: Just starting

For students in the early stages of a PhD. That is if you are;

  • Developing your research idea
  • Writing your proposal
  • Starting your research
  • Writing your first literature review

The aim is to get you off to the best possible start, establishing good habits now that will make life much easier later. I’ll help you adapt to the academic environment and show you how some of your old habits might need to change.

We start by taking stock of your existing skills and resources, then refining your research ideas and putting together a plan of action (avoiding the most common mistakes and saving you a lot of time in later years).

If you have to write a proposal and/or literature review, I’ll show you how to structure your writing to make it easy to write and enjoyable to read.

2. Stuck in the middle

For those experiencing “the dip” in the middle stages of a PhD. You’ve got some experience, but now the project is growing and the scale of the job is starting to sink in.

  • Everything you do is creating more work
  • You’re juggling a lot of tasks and competing demands
  • The stress is starting to affect you and your life outside your PhD
  • Pressure is building from your supervisors
  • Time is flying by but you aren't finishing anything

This programme aims to “tidy up” your project, simplifying and prioritizing the work and getting rid of any bad habits. We also want to strengthen your research skills before the big push to the finish line.

The first step is to take stock of your existing work and the number of different things you’re trying to do. Then we simplify, focus on one aspect of your work and work towards simple, completable goals.

Generally, the priority here is research over writing but we can also look at your writing habits in preparation for writing your thesis.

3. The final push

For those in the final year and looking towards completion; it’s all about finishing your research and writing.

Some students get stuck in an endless cycle of drafts. If you’re on draft number 17, something is going wrong!

Typical situations might be;

  • You’ve written a lot, but nothing is finished and submittable
  • There’s no end to the amount of new material to add to your thesis
  • It’s getting harder to write
  • You’re still unsure about much of the content


  • You’ve got the results but don’t know how to put it together
  • You wanted to be done a year ago but there’s no hard deadline and so many other things to do
  • You’re terrified of what the examiner might think

Coaching in the final stages of a PhD tends to be a bit more intensive, simply because there’s less time to sort things out. With that said, there are some simple ways to make the final months much easier.

As with the other programmes, we start with a detailed assessment of what you have so far, as well as an assessment of your writing style. Then it’s all about prioritising, making clear decisions and getting things finished one by one.

How much does it cost?

Also check out the PhD Academy All Access Pass for group support and courses. Click here for more details

10-session package: €1950*

Intensive packages of 3 or 6 months are also available- ideal if you're working to a specific deadline. Enquire using the form below.

*Sessions must be used within 12 months of purchase. Prices shown include VAT (21%)

Don't wait until it's too late!

The positive effects of good practices multiply over time.

The earlier you seek help, the easier it is to make changes and the more effective those changes will be.

PhD coaching application form

Please complete the application form and I will get back to you with details of my availability and the next steps.

Completing the form doesn't commit you to anything, and your answers will be treated as strictly confidential.

Please only use this form if you are interested in coaching. For all other messages or questions please use the contact page

Thank you! Your submission has been received!

I will get back to you as soon as possible (usually within 24 hours, though sometimes longer at the weekends) regarding my availability and the next step.
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