Your P.hD. is not a sprint but a marathon
- Doctoral programm & course planning
- Fieldwork & lab work
- Sample & data processing
1) Joining a doctoral program is an excellent opportunity to discover new courses (knowledge), train (skills), and put into practice what you have learned (competencies). To avoid overloading my schedule, I like to check the course programs to choose the courses I can take according to my needs. If the course registration is not available, I note my calendar’s opening date for registration. These courses allowed me to get free training on subjects parallel to the thesis and create a network outside my laboratory!
2) The fieldwork & lab analysis planification is easier if you use a yearly calendar! To look at the whole year allows you to realize better the time you have at your disposal (after having written down vacations, vacations, teaching hours, etc.). Generally, I plan 1/3 more time than I need to do something. This allows me to have a slight margin (bad weather, lack of material,…) and other minor glitches. Of course, it’s not always possible but doing it for big projects is still really helpful! In addition to defining how much time a task can take, it is also necessary to consider using the laboratory with colleagues (who all come back from fieldwork simultaneously).
3) Samples & data processing. Collecting samples is not always the most challenging thing (for me), but finding the time to analyze them in depth is another story. Starting with the compilation of the “raw dataset,” which, before being correctly adjusted for any statistical analysis, requires quite a lot of work: building the suitable template, correcting the laboratory data, noting the field surveys, etc.). Once the raw dataset is finished, we can finally start the analysis until the next obstacle: R. This tremendous and powerful tool can lead to a headache… My only advice is not to give up and ask for help if necessary to move forward (even slowly) but indeed in the analysis of the data 🙂
4) When it comes to writing, there is no magic formula…YOU MUST GET ON WITH IT! Easier said than done, but I’ve learned from my mistakes over time. I’ve also discovered a few tricks: setting unofficial deadlines with your supervisor has helped you to move forward and correct errors if needed; it also allows you to reevaluate the project in a global way (1), don’t underestimate the mid thesis report, because even if you feel like you haven’t accomplished anything, in reality, you have a lot of things to write about, so if you take the time, some sections can be reused in the final manuscript (2), write a little, often/every day even if it is not top quality (3), determine the environment in which you write best to be more efficient and focused (4), use the Pomodoro technique (4).
Hope this may help you!