A Guide for New PhD Students

ian-book

Start the video.

Here is how to begin. Fill a fresh notepad with calming notes to yourself such as “how the hell do I even start this thing” and “this might all be a terrible mistake”.

This is the grey, sinister building that you will only ever enter late and panicked and sweating. Use your time in the lift efficiently by regretting your complete inability to manage basic aspects of day-to-day life.

Here is how to forget your purpose with unsettling frequency and stutter around in a mute stupor for weeks on end. Always remember to take sensible breaks while you stutter around in a mute stupor for weeks on end.

Here is how to structure the formless shadow of your half-remembered thoughts into a clear and achievable chapter outline, indicating the anticipated word count for each reckless and inexplicable tangent.

Here is how to feign interest in your own best ideas long enough to write them down.

Here is how to optimise the ergonomics of your desk to help you maintain control during unscheduled emotional convulsions provoked by some insignificant thing that may or may not have recently occurred.

This is a chart developed by experts to help you organise your throbbing obsession into regular study blocks. This is how to forget about the individualised chart you made after devoting what everyone would agree to be an unhealthy level of attention on the column widths. You’ll quickly learn how to stare incomprehensibly at the chart every now and then during the feverish midnight hours.

Here is how to keep your spirits up and persevere in exploring all the available options with an impressive pragmatism as your shitty laptop slips indifferently into some kind of electric coma.

Here is a little bench on a nameless road that you can sit at for almost two hours until lunchtime is definitely, undeniably over but you don’t have the slightest clue of what to do when you go back or even where to go.

Here is how to avoid ever discussing the three-and-a-half hours you spent colouring in the elaborate detail of your mind-map’s inappropriate and miserable centrepiece.

Here is a great place to relax and ache quietly with self-doubt in an atmosphere of academic excellence.

We hope you found this useful.


James Fisher is a PhD candidate at Kings College London. Follow @JamDanFish

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