Saturday, December 14, 2019

How to start PhD?

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)!

I recently completed my PhD and some of my friends have the question, 'How to start PhD?' I believe many of you may also have the same question and that's why I decided to publish an article to answer the question.

Before going into the details I have some small answers for FAQs or lets say background check! First and foremost thing is why? In all the scenarios first question should be 'what' then 'why' and then we can find the answer for 'how'. Here in our scenario, I have already answered the what part in first line. If you are not satisfied with it, you may search it on Google or Quora (sometimes it is better than Google). So lets try to answer 'why?' Major reason which I observe is government policy (you may argue that I have started my anti-modi / anti-government / anti-nation agenda again). But most of the top tier institute allows only PhD holder to appear in the interview process. Only Bachelors or Masters has no value if you are planning to get job in academia or you already are in academics. It is necessary for all academician to have PhD! Second reason may be your research interest. Someone may genuinely interested in doing research to help mankind. Third reason may be you have lot of money and you can buy whatever degree you want. In India, anything can be bought, if you have sufficient money to pay (for further discussion contact Mukesh Ambani)! So, If you are from third category, you need not to worry about anything we are going to discuss here but for category one and two this discussion may be useful.

PhD in a long-term process, it may take four to seven years to earn the degree (I am not considering fake degrees). The only person who is most important in your life during you PhD is your supervisor. Therefore, in my view, selection of supervisor is the most important part of your PhD journey; research area, publications, etc. comes later.

Most of the people approach their supervisor based on their research profile and regret later. Because the person who has good research contribution not necessary be a good human being as well. It is better to have good amount of conversation with your future supervisor before actually joining him/her. Your supervisor should able to understand your personal issues as well because in this long journey, you may have many personal issues and if your supervisor don't understand it, you may end up struggling between your personal and research life!

Next important thing is your area of research. Mostly people ask their supervisor or other seniors about the area of research and problem statement. This may be a good strategy for short term research but here it wont work. You have to identify the area in which you are interested to work. It is something that you can work on 24x7 for four to seven years. In starting, everything seems interesting but after sometimes your research becomes monotonous and you don't like to work any more and you realize that you have chosen the wrong area but now you are a half way mark and no wayout. Sometimes it also happen that you can't find any more problems to solve. There is no research without finding and solving problems. Therefore, it is advisable to choose your area of research wisely.

Now the discussion about the difference between category one and category two aspirants. Major focus of category one people is on degree whereas category two people worried more about their contribution. Therefore, category one aspirants should go for the university or institution which don't have very high publication and contribution criteria so that they can earn their degree easily. Category two should target top tier universities and institutions so that they get better facilities, faculties and work environment.

I hope this article will help PhD aspirants to start their journey.
Please post any of your questions in comments, I will try my best to answer.

“If you can't fly then run, if you can't run then walk, if you can't walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.”
- Martin Luther King Jr.

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