The Unwritten Rules of PhD Research

The Unwritten Rules of PhD Research

The Unwritten Rules of PhD Research

The Unwritten Rules of PhD Research


"A breath of fresh air - I wish someone had told me this beforehand."PhD student, UK "If you are contemplating a PhD, buy the book and read it straight through to get the larger picture; then re-read each section in greater detail as you tackle each stage of your work. I did the basic research for my PhD in about twelve months, then spent two years writing up the results - and producing possibly too much. It succeeded, but I think I might have made a better job of it if I had read a book like this first. But they didn't exist in those days." Mantex. This book looks at things the other books don't tell you about doing a PhD - what it's really like and how to come through it with a happy ending! It covers all the things you wish someone had told you before you started: What a PhD is really about, and how to do one well The "unwritten rules" of research and of academic writing What your supervisor actually means by terms like "good referencing" and "clean research question" How to write like a skilled researcher How academic careers really work An ideal resource if someone you care about (including yourself!) is undergoing or considering a PhD. This book turns lost, clueless students back into people who know what they are doing, and who can enjoy life again.


One of the most frequent laments of the postgraduate researcher is: ‘Why didn’t someone tell me that earlier?’ There are innumerable things which nobody bothered to tell you, or to write in the books, and which could have saved you from large amounts of confusion, depression, wasted effort and general tears and misery if only you had been told them earlier.

The authors have spent more than their fair share of time with desperate beginners, explaining the basic principles of research over cups of coffee. This book is an attempt to cut down their caffeine overload. It explains the basic craft skills and ground rules of the academic world in general, and research in particular. Its focus is the vitally important things that the standard textbooks don’t bother to mention on the sweet assumption that they can be left to the readers’ lecturers and supervisors.

If you are doing a PhD or an MPhil then this book is intended to help you to do the best research possible with the minimum of wasted effort. It is also intended to help you use your research as part of your career development and self-development so that you don’t end up on graduation day, certificate in hand, wondering just what the hell to do next and realizing that you’ve just spent several years moving painfully in the wrong direction.

The authors’ backgrounds are varied. Their academic credentials include PhDs, publication of various journal papers and encyclopaedia articles, advanced research fellowships, a couple of journal editorships, refereeing for major journals and fund-giving bodies, and raising between them over a million pounds of research funding. Their students still talk to them, and sometimes say nice things about them.

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