A very honest approach to PhD life

'How to survive your doctorate' is out now

If you are doing, thinking about doing, or know someone who is doing a doctorate, then a book recently published by ABS Lecturer Dr Jane Matthiesen could be the survival kit you need!

Entitled ‘How to survive your doctorate’, Jane’s book (which is co-written with Mario Binder) looks at the crucial skills that are part of everyday doctoral life rather than focusing on the technical side.

Jane and Mario met whilst studying for their PhD. They quickly realised that there were many books available to PhD students that looked at the processes, practices and regulations of PhD study but that there weren’t any more ‘personal’ accounts of what PhD life is really like. A year later their guide has just been published by Oxford University Press.

Jane said: ‘There are lots of books for PhD students, so we wanted to differentiate ourselves. We wanted to provide a candid version of what PhD life is really like. There isn’t a lot of advice about soft skills. We wanted to change that. For example, if you’re having motivational problems or feel frustrated with your studies, then this book deals honestly and openly with how to overcome such issues.’

How to survive your doctorate explores:

  • The application process
  • Sources of financial support
  • Motivational issues
  • Student-supervisor relationships
  • Departmental and university politics
  • Publishing, conferences and networking
  • Career strategies.

‘We’ve actually interviewed current doctoral students at other universities, recent graduates and colleagues, so the book it full of student stories. This is really useful as it offers you different perspectives,’ said Jane. ‘There are many ‘this was my problem and this is how I solved it’ examples. Some of the pieces in the book are really motivational and some remind you that a PhD can be difficult.

‘Everyone can do a PhD so don’t be discouraged if things aren’t working for you right now, as long as you’re committed and you work hard you can do it.’

Jane studied for her PhD at Aston. After completing her studies in 2005 she now teaches as part of the ABS Economics and Strategy Group.

'How to survive your doctorate' is out now! Order a copy

Words by Louise Russell


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