I am fast approaching my Major Review – and I’m expecting one of the questions to be, “What would you have done differently?”
Well, there are a few things. The first would be to read ‘The PhD writing handbook’ by Desmond Thomas. The second would be to create a network of fellow PhD students much earlier and the third would be to engage with an on-line referencing package, such as Mendeley (other brands are available!)
How would this have helped? In the last few months I have been writing articles about some preliminary findings from a structured literature review. These articles have been bounced back from my supervisory team, with numerous tracked changes, which started to leave me with the feeling that I couldn’t string two sentences together. I’ve received some great support in developing my academic writing, including a recommendation to read Desmond Thomas’s book. Not far in, I realised some of the fundamental errors I had made, such as the passive vs the active voice.
Having created a network of fellow PhD students, from various disciplines, I have now found that this is a common experience. In fact ‘seasoned academics’ also get their writing bounced back. Doing a PhD can be a lonely journey, especially if (like me) you are doing it part-time and remote from the University. On Twitter, hashtags such as #PhDlife #PhDChat and #AcademicChatter are great resources for those moments of self-doubt and imposter-syndrome. You are not alone and it’s not just you!