What I wish I'd known before starting a PhD

By James Hayton,
March 14, 2016

When I started my PhD, I didn't really know what I was getting into. I knew very little about how academia worked, and I had no idea how to approach a long-term research project.This blog is full of things I learned or figured out along the way (and after graduating), but I think the most important would be;

  1. Pick good people to work with (for me it was more luck than choice)
  2. Your habitual responses when things go wrong are key (checking email isn't a good response to a problem)
  3. Start small
  4. Don't worry about what the examiners might think—just do your best

If I had my time again, I'd also put more effort into getting to know what other people were working on (including in other research groups).

What do you wish you'd known before starting your PhD?

Obviously, there's a lot more detail and context to the points above, but I've written and spoken a lot about these and other principles in the past. So I want to know what you wish you'd known before starting your PhD.Did you have any misapprehensions before you started? Have you learned any valuable lessons, from experience or from others, that you think others should know?Leave a comment below, and feel free to use a pseudonym if you want to remain anonymous.

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