A Reflection: How to Navigate your PhD

Navigating your PhD: Tips for Major Milestones by Professor Peter Green

While the PhD journey can be transformative, it can also be convoluted and confusing, with each and every student journey different from the next. Stage 2, Confirmation, Examination, and navigating complex processes such as ethics are just some of the major milestones that every PhD student has to face, yet is often accompanied with limited clarity and high uncertainty.

In January, we kicked off CFE’s first webinar as a part of the HDR in Conversation series; content for HDR students, curated by HDR students. Through this we seek to provide advice, tools, and resources to empower students’ research journeys. For this webinar, Professor Peter Green from the School of Accountancy shed light on the holistic PhD process, and gave tips and tricks for major milestones based on his extensive supervisory experience. Here are just some of the key takeaways from his presentation;

1. The Dimensions of High-Quality Research

High quality research should be purposive, have clearly defined goals, have a replicable procedure, have a clear objective, complete and honest reporting procedures, appropriate analytical techniques, and conclusions limited to those justified by the data.

2. Shedding Light on Stage 2

As indicated by Professor Green, Stage 2 is pertinent only to the QUT PhD journey. This added step seeks to identify your overarching research question, clearly specifying the phenomenon of interest. Here PhD students also answer why their research is important, and what unique contributions can they make to theory, practice, and/or method.

3. Tackling Confirmation

The confirmation report needs to identify what work is to be done, why the work is significant, what about the work is original and represents contribution to knowledge, when the work will be completed (including indicative research outcomes), and how the work is to be done. For the presentation component, Professor Green highly recommends students do a ‘dry run’ before the day.

4. Collecting Data

The collection of data is frequently where PhD students most likely experience frustration due to delays in the process as the elements of this stage are often out of the individual’s control. This can surround delays in the ethical clearance process, promoting the study, and acquiring sufficient participant groups and representation. Professor Green’s tip here is to start this stage as early as possible, however only collect data once ethical clearance has been acquired (which you should start early too).

5. Publish Along the Way

If you choose to do your PhD by publication, great! This is a great way to make claims in the literature, and finish your PhD already being published, benefitting your academic CV. If you choose to do by a traditional thesis, you can still publish! For instance, your literature can be used to inform a critical literature review for publishing.

6. The Key to Success is Persistence

The PhD journey is a long one, and according to Professor Green, the most successful students are those who apply consistent attention, effort and motivation throughout their whole experience. Indeed, a common undergraduate approach of doing immense work only when work is due is not suitable for the PhD journey. Read, read, read, and write, write, write.

7. Your Thesis, Your Choice

Remember that your PhD is your thesis, so the decisions you make are your choice. While the there is a differentiation in authority and experience between a student and a supervisor, at the end of the day it is yours. However, be open to suggestions and opportunities to expand and grow.


To watch the seminar, click here. Password: NavigatingPhD2021!