How to Do a PhD

Good advice, summarized from James Hayton's "How to do a PhD: top 10 tips", that applies throughout life:

  1. Choose who you work with carefully (including institution, research group, and advisor)
  2. See yourself as a beginner (research work is not the same as taking classes and doing well on exams)
  3. Start early, make mistakes (get to work as soon as possible on doing actual research)
  4. Analyse early (test methods on small data sets as you go along)
  5. Get to know the literature (begin with deep study of a few of the best papers in your field)
  6. Don't obsess over productivity (be flexible and patient, not driven by artificial self-imposed deadlines)
  7. Give yourself time to think (pause, go beyond the obvious, and allow creativity to emerge)
  8. Be decisive (when a choice needs to be made in your work, make it)
  9. Be adaptable (failures are inevitable along the way — face them with enthusiasm and imagination)
  10. Separate writing for yourself from writing for an audience (the goal is to communicate your ideas and results — organize your arguments and figure out where you're going)

Hayton's final supplemental tip is likewise important when generalized: "A PhD is not everything. ... Do your best, but don't let it define your life. Ultimately, it's not that important!"

(cf. Research and Life (2000-09-07), Ein Ben Stein (2002-09-19), How To Succeed (2005-03-11), Great Thoughts Time (2013-11-29), ...) - ^z - 2016-03-25