Wednesday, January 8, 2014

What to do before you start your PhD/Master by Research

Hello everyoneeee!!

Currently I'm preparing some ideas on what to present for my talk in my Uni. A colleague of mine asked me to give a talk on "How I finish my PhD in 3 years part time".

Macam cocky kan the title. Haha!! I wasn't the one who came up with it. Nak catch attention je tuh.

But if people know me, they know my intention is just to share. And while preparing for my slides, I thought of just sharing what I think everyone (including me if I could turn back time and tell myself all these before I started my PhD) should do before they begin their PhD or Master by Research.

I shared this based on my experiences. I finished my PhD in 3 years and my Master by research in slightly over a year. Might work for you, might not, but just tawakkal and leave the rest to the Almighty, in shaa Allah every little effort counts :) 

What to do before you start your PhD/Master by Research

1. Literature Review

At least read a little bit about the background of the things you would like to do your research on. The general overview, not just read, make sure you understand. Familiarize yourself with the famous authors and experts in your field. Make sure you know the current trend. Then, make sure you fall in love with it. Sometimes you fall in love with something people think is hard. If you think you know yourself better than the rest of the world, follow your instinct. Passion makes everything easier, at least for me.

I was given two options when I did my Master, two different titles, one looks easier than the other. But I chose the other one out of passion and I am confident I've made the right choice. Alhamdulillah :)

2. Supervisor

Choose a supervisor whom is not only an expert in your field but also ones whom understand you. But to have a supervisor whom understand you, you must understand yourself first. If you're the type of person who works well when somebody pushes you, find a sv whom can push you persistently. Otherwise,  find someone who is more laid back

And I would also strongly encourage you to have a co-sv so that
1. You can get a 2nd opinion on things
2. You can have somebody to look at your research in a different angle.
If possible, find a sv that can complement your co.

My sv, Prof Shidah is a woman and my co sv, Dr. Mansoori is a man so I get the best of both worlds.

3. Seek for blessings; make them understand

Blessing is important, be it from your husband or your parents. You have to understand that PhD is demanding. It demands your time, your mental and also your physical. There are days, like it or not you have to come back home late especially if you do it part time. There are days, you sleep with the problem and waking up all stressed out and cried alone for no reason. There are times especially towards the end, you come home in need of time just an hour to practice for viva or to do your coding because an idea comes out of nowhere. The husband, the parents need to be there for you physically and mentally. I can't stress this enough, its importance. 

I'm blessed to have my parents live nearby and taking care of Khaira and being such super understanding I can't thank them enough. I'm blessed to have a husband whom I can depend on. Nonetheless, to make people understand is not easy, which comes to my next point..

4. Have a circle of friends whom understand you

And for me, there's nobody understand you better except those who have been through the same shit as you have been through. Those who did their PhD with you and cried with you and laughed with you.

They don't have to do the same technical things as you are, but please seek for them when you're stuck because if you shut yourselves from the world, it's hard to get out. You need people to talk to.

Needless to say.. my circle of friends, those in the lab with me, they cried with me, fell with me, may Allah SWT bless them. I love you girls.

 5. "In case briefcase"

My hubby called in the "in case briefcase". A reason why you do your PhD, a really strong one. Cash it in the day you need it. You will need it. 

Trust me, in your PhD there are days when you feel like quitting, but always remember your "in case briefcase". Mine came when I was writing my thesis, I even wrote a letter to quit. Then, my pillar of support (husband) came to remind me of my "in case briefcase", and I was quickly reminded of my passion and circle of friends. I managed to finish it eventually.

6. Have faith

Have faith in the Almighty that He will ease everything for you. If He brings you to it, He will surely bring you through it. "I am what you think I am," He said. Have faith and it makes you believe that He allows you to do anything and to achieve the impossible. :)

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