how to get a phd

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How to Get a PhD

A PhD, short for Doctor of Philosophy, may help you secure a position as a college or university pro
21. Explore the literature in your research field
A large part of your research process should be devoted to exploring the conversation thats already happened around your topic. You need to perform literature reviews to find out what experiments have been performed breeding drosophilia, and what has been written about women in silver age comics. Find an unexplored angle or aspect of the research.
22. Perform your own experiments
When you find out that, despite the interesting observations of some researchers, a compelling connection doesnt exist yet between drosophilia and ongoing attempts to mutate cancer cells, you may well have found an avenue for your experiments. If the critical literature is significantly silent on the topic of Wonder Woman, youve got something to write about.
As you complete your coursework and add complexity to the topic in which youre interested, youll likely change and add depth to your initial research interest. Thats ok. Let the research grow you understanding of the topic, and change the way you approach it. That means youre on the right track.
23. Prepare a doctoral dissertation thesis
Your doctoral dissertation is the written culmination of your research interests, to be completed over the course of multiple research semesters. The dissertation should provide the answer to the research question you set out to explore. These are typically booklength projects that will need to be submitted to your committee, defended orally, and approved to be awarded your doctorate.
24. In the humanities
In the humanities, several semesters following your coursework and preliminary examination will be devoted to completing the research involved with your interests. During this time, youll be expected to periodically update your committee on your progress, providing them with literature reviews and outlines, depending on your arrangement. You may also be expected to publish supplementary papers periodically in academic journals.
25. In the sciences
In the sciences, youll spend your postprelim semesters doing lab work, or other field work depending on your field of study. The time will be spent collecting data and performing experiments to move your research forward, to be collected in the dissertation, and probably published in peerreviewed journals.
26. Prepare for the oral defense of your dissertation
After youve written and submitted a dissertation to your committee, youll be expected to defend it in a semipublic forum. This usually takes the form of an interviewstyle questionandanswer session, though youll generally be privy to the questions your committee will ask.
Most defenses are cordial affairs, not debates, though you should expect to be pressed and argued with regarding your methods, your conclusions, and other aspects of your work. The best way to prepare for your defense is to know your dissertation and your research inside and out. At a successful defense, youll need to present yourself and your work well both orally and in writing to earn recognition as a PhD candidate and a researcher. Practice delivering your main point quickly and your overall presentation or paper with confidence.
27. Apply for departmental grants or additional appointments
Many PhD programs will fully fund every student admitted into the program, through some combination of teaching responsibilities or research assistance completed in conjunction with the coursework. Full funding means that any tuition fees will be waived, and youll be awarded a stipend to cover your living expenses, anywhere between $13,000 and $30,000, depending on the location of the school and the nature of the program. Other programs assist students on a casebycase level, meaning that youll need to take funding into your own hands and make sure that your place in the department is financially secure.
28. In the hard sciences
In the hard sciences, money is allocated to provide different labs, projects, and individuals money on a competitive casebycase basis. To apply, youll typically write a detailed proposal of your research goals and submit it to the department.
29. Apply for private research grants
Most departments acquire funding from a variety of sources, public and private, and its common to bypass the department and go outside if youve got a particularlyattractive research topic. The Whitehall Foundation commonly provides research grants to scientists, while the NEA and the Poetry Foundation offer a variety of grant funds to artists and writers. Talk to your major professor about applying for private money.
30. Consider crowd funding options
Increasingly, academics are taking their projects to the people, especially for innovative research topics. If youre pioneering a new approach to artificial intelligence, or another flashy topic thatll look good in a 2 minute video, start a kickstarter, Rockethub, or Petridish.org profile to take your research to the people and work outside the institution.


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