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11 points on PhD, So Far

I am an amateur PhD student progressively moving ahead in my research journey. Hopefully, I will soon reach the climax. While I retrospect, I feel that I should jot down some of my experiences for newbies.

A photo of Snehal Jamalpure Lakka sitting on a stool in front of a microscope looking a the camera and smiling.

Here is the disclaimer - these points have been drawn from my personal experience and some of you might have disagreements.

11 points on PhD, So Far:

1. Passion

After spending quite a significant time in academia, I feel that 'Passion' over 'Intelligence' is the most important thing a PhD must have. It will help one in answering the toughest of questions and guide them through the darkest of tunnels in the research journey. If not for passion then one will eventually wear out. So, only if you are passionate about it, embark on this journey.

2. Organization

The more organized one is in their thoughts, perceptions, opinions (and of course Lab notebooks), the better one is at sailing the turbulent situations in academia. Being organized can help one gain greater clarity and lower the entropy of ideas, biases and uncertainties. Remember to be organized, and sorted, to get the clutter off your benchwork.

3. Inquisitiveness

This nature can help one in the long run. Question everything! They say one has to be smart while picking what you ask. While seeking the right questions, we often miss the most fundamental ones. Be intrigued about every observation that you come across and one is more likely to get the explanations for all the failures.

4. Networking

Listen, talk, discuss, and collaborate in every possible way. One never knows what networking can unravel for them. It's no secret, but often PhD's lack the right networking and often end up in a shell. So go ahead, get talking! The world is your oyster.

5. Tactfulness

If you want to convince your PI, senior, or collaborator that an idea you firmly believe in, is an important experiment or might sound trivial but be a reagent. Then be Tactful. You really don't have to sugarcoat but be careful with what words you use and how you portray them. Basically, you need to have a knack for saying the right thing at the right time.

6. Sincerity

This attribute is directly proportional to PhD productivity. Not much to say just be exclusively 'SINCERE'.

7. Observation

Observation plays a key role in understanding patterns of an experiment. Often the little important things are missed. Paying attention to those details can help you immensely in fixing a flaw in your system, so be observant.

8. Novelty

What are you offering to the scientific community that has not been known before? What novelty are you bringing to the table? How is your approach/technique/method/PhD work different from others? Being novel in your work can bring uniqueness to your working style and can help you stand out in the academic society.

9. Persistence

I would say persistence and patience immensely help you in getting an assay to work effectively. This trait is a universal mantra for success. Yes, PhD is no exception. Hang in there, take ant-like efforts and your probability of succeeding will be higher.

10. Happy Space

Find your own happy space, your niche where you can go back after a tiring day. Be it a hobby class, gym, cafeteria, library, photography class, or many more. This will help your happy hormones to surge and make you a better performer.

11. Diligence and Determination

Pursuing a PhD has forced me to be a diligent student. It taught me to be attentive and sincere in my efforts. Persistence is a must but when combined with diligence and determination it can unleash your hidden potential. So, it's not just tiring efforts but the carefulness and alertness involved make the difference.

Feel free to reach out to me in case you have some doubts or need clarifications. I assure you, I can help you with, if not all, but some of your queries on getting along in this arena.


We thank Snehal Jamalpure Lakka for submitting her story! Find her on Twitter (@sneehal22).

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