Jamal El Ouahi

Helping researchers. Posts about scientific research & its process. Academia/Government Consulting.

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Jamal El Ouahi

Helping researchers. Posts about scientific research & its process. Academia/Government Consulting.

#22 PhD Journey Made Easy: The 6 Stages You Need to Know

Read time: 4 min.

Hey friends,

I wish I had known what I would go through before doing my PhD.

All PhDs experiences are unique. But the following are the typical stages of a PhD:

๐—ฆ๐˜๐—ฎ๐—ด๐—ฒ ๐Ÿญ: ๐—ฅ๐—ฒ๐˜€๐—ฒ๐—ฎ๐—ฟ๐—ฐ๐—ต ๐—ฝ๐—ฟ๐—ผ๐—ฝ๐—ผ๐˜€๐—ฎ๐—น
This is where you define your research topic and objectives.

For me, these have changed a lot over time. I smile when I look at my initial research ideas.
Very interesting but also quite ambitious. And thatโ€™s fine.
There will be enough time to refine the subjects during your PhD.

This is also the stage where:
– I did my initial literature review. Whatโ€™s already published about the subjects? What do you need to read?
– I structure a research outline with the main questions. This doesnโ€™t have to be perfect.
– I define a supervision plan with my supervisors. This is an important element to set the expectations right for all parties
– I think about a personal development plan. Which courses/conferences are relevant to your research project(s)?

๐—ฆ๐˜๐—ฎ๐—ด๐—ฒ ๐Ÿฎ: ๐——๐—ผ๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ด ๐—ฟ๐—ฒ๐˜€๐—ฒ๐—ฎ๐—ฟ๐—ฐ๐—ต

Here, you get into details. Hands-on research. Time to do the research job.

In short:
– This is the stage where I refined the research questions
– Refine the methodology based on feedback from supervisors and colleagues
– Experiment

– Collect data
– Data analysis and interpretation
– Interpret, discuss the results and relate the findings to existing theories and literature

In my case, each study was kind of independent. Each study was a chapter or my dissertation.
So I went through these steps for each study.

๐—ฆ๐˜๐—ฎ๐—ด๐—ฒ ๐Ÿฏ: ๐—ช๐—ฟ๐—ถ๐˜๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ด, ๐—ฅ๐—ฒ๐˜ƒ๐—ถ๐—ฒ๐˜„, ๐—˜๐—ฑ๐—ถ๐˜๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ด

This is probably the most intimidating task if you are not used to writing.

Coming from Maths and Engineering, this was my case.

Doing a PhD means that you will learn how to write and present your work in a structured and scientific way.

I always edited my studies based on my supervisors feedbacks.
Sometimes, I would get up to 6 or 7 versions of a single study until it can be considered โ€œcompleteโ€.

As mentioned earlier, my dissertation was article-based. 1 chapter for each study.

Like me, publishing in journals might not be a requirement from your institution.

But I feel that going through publication in good peer-reviewed journals improved the quality of my manuscripts. Because:

– I edited the studies based on the reviewers’ reports during the peer review process
– I formatted the manuscript, references and also worked on the overall coherence.

๐—ฆ๐˜๐—ฎ๐—ด๐—ฒ ๐Ÿฐ: ๐—ช๐—ฟ๐—ถ๐˜๐—ฒ ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฒ ๐—ถ๐—ป๐˜๐—ฟ๐—ผ๐—ฑ๐˜‚๐—ฐ๐˜๐—ถ๐—ผ๐—ป ๐—ฎ๐—ป๐—ฑ ๐—ฐ๐—ผ๐—ป๐—ฐ๐—น๐˜‚๐˜€๐—ถ๐—ผ๐—ป ๐—ผ๐—ณ ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฒ ๐—ฑ๐—ถ๐˜€๐˜€๐—ฒ๐—ฟ๐˜๐—ฎ๐˜๐—ถ๐—ผ๐—ป

Like when writing a single article, itโ€™s often good to write the introduction and conclusion or your dissertation when you have some results.
– This is where the literature review is important
– What are your research questions?
– What are the implications?
– Review and revise based on feedback from my advisors
– Organize all the content: general story, flow and writing quality

๐—ฆ๐˜๐—ฎ๐—ด๐—ฒ ๐Ÿฑ: ๐—ฆ๐˜‚๐—ฏ๐—บ๐—ถ๐˜ ๐˜๐—ผ ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฒ ๐—ฐ๐—ผ๐—บ๐—บ๐—ถ๐˜๐˜๐—ฒ๐—ฒ ๐—ฎ๐—ป๐—ฑ ๐—ฟ๐—ฒ๐˜ƒ๐—ถ๐˜€๐—ฒ
This depends on how the process works in your university.

At some point, you will have to submit the dissertation to an examining committee
At this stage, itโ€™s also a good idea to pay attention to the organization, flow, and overall quality of your writing before submitting your dissertation.

๐—ฆ๐˜๐—ฎ๐—ด๐—ฒ ๐Ÿฒ: ๐—™๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ฎ๐—น๐—ถ๐˜‡๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ด ๐—ฎ๐—ป๐—ฑ ๐—ฑ๐—ฒ๐—ณ๐—ฒ๐—ป๐—ฑ๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ด

The committee might provide feedback to integrate in your dissertations. This can be related to your arguments, methodology, or interpretations as needed

– Complete all necessary revisions and edits based on feedback
– Prepare and format your dissertation or thesis according to university guidelines and the printing company
– And then itโ€™s time for your PhD defense, ceremony or VIVA.

Of course, these stages may vary depending on the research project and PhD program requirements.

Thatโ€™s it for this week. Let me know if I missed anything and if you have any tips to share.

As usual, if anything is unclear or if you need help with your research projects, please contact me and I will reply.

See you next Sunday!


Question of the Week

Any other typical PhD stage?

Let us know in the comments.

My favorite things this week

  1. I conducted several webinars recently in collaboration with the National Center for Scientific and Technical Research in Morocco. Large audiences and great interactions with researchers and PhD students!

  2. A nice session with a research center in Jordan on research evaluation.

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