Tips and Tricks for PhD Students: The #PhDlifehack

This week a new cohort of PhD students is about to embark on their doctoral journeys in Cambridge. Although this is surely an exciting time, filled with many hopes and expectations, starting a PhD can also feel scary and overwhelming – How should you organise your work? Are there any tools or strategies that could be particularly helpful in staying on top of things? And how do you build good professional relationships during the PhD? With some of these questions in mind, we asked current PhD students and academics for advice and encouraged them to share their best #PhDlifehack with us on Twitter.

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Making the Most of Your Masters Programme at Cambridge

Hi, my name is Derk and I am a Malaysian PhD student at the Faculty of Education (EdFac), University of Cambridge. If you’re reading this, it’s likely that you are about to matriculate for the Master in Philosophy (MPhil)  programme at our Faculty. I was in your shoes two years ago, and that’s why I was asked to write this blogpost. am sure you are very excited to be in Cambridge, and, knowing that the MPhil degree is really very short (about 10 months), you must be keen to find your feet quickly and make the most out of your limited time. Here’s some advice based on my experience, supplemented by insights from some of my friends.

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My #PHDshelfie: Julie

As the intellectual cousin of the word selfie, a shelfie is a photograph of someone’s bookshelf. In the next few months, the FERSA blog will occasionally feature shelfies taken by graduate students in the Faculty of Education, accompanied by reflections about some of their favourite books. The first person to share a shelfie is PhD student Julie Blake. 

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Planting Seeds, Nurturing Roots, and Growing Sideways: Transitioning from a Cambridge PhD to a Prairie Postdoc

On a hot June day in 2013, my friend Clementine walked with me through the infamous red doors of Cambridge’s Board of Graduate Studies to hand over my PhD thesis. While this celebratory photo is saved on my computer as “happy day,” I can still taste my anxiety. Having just dedicated three years of my life to a single project, what would come next? Beyond the frame of this photo are bags stored in various friends’ living rooms. I was days away from leaving a place where my roots grew deep. In this moment, I recall wondering where next? Would anywhere ever feel the same?

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Reflections on a Successful Viva Voce

In this short blog post I will share general tips on preparation for the final PhD defense, as well as ideas on publishing en route to the PhD. I believe these tips contributed to my result of ultimately passing without corrections. From my post-viva standpoint it now seems to me that the focus was on identifying the threshold at which my knowledge on the subject ended in order to challenge me to think beyond the limits of my philosophical and methodological approach

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If I Were to Do My PhD Again …

Before 2011, I had never thought that one day I would choose to do a PhD. But I did it! I have not suffered from ‘Permanent Head Damage’, though it is true that I find it a ‘Probably Hard to Describe’ experience. What I hope to share with you are some of my thoughts when I look back on my journey 2 years after my PhD viva.

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