PhD Application Process


Hi guys. I am really eager to start a phd on a part time basis, but am having trouble with finding a research topic. I am looking at tonnes of abstracts on pubmed, but without the full articles, my potential findings are limited before i've started.

In order to obtain the full articles, i need to be a member of a university and have access to an athens account.

What is the application process for a PhD? Do i have to get a definitive project together before i apply, or do i apply, search the journal articles and then propose a project?

Any help you can send my way will be much appreciated!!!


Triplesteve, this is not my area at all but I just Googled 'pubmed' and the sites I found (e.g. UK Pubmed Central) let me access full articles without any sort of login or registration process - am I missing something?

As I understand it, to apply for a PhD you either need to have a research proposal of your own, or find an existing, ready-defined project to attach yourself to. But as I say, this really isn't my area - I'm on the arts/humanities side. I'd suggest you do some digging round the websites of the departments/institutions you're thinking of applying to. They'll probably give you a much clearer idea of the application process, and the sort of projects/funding opportunities that are out there.


You don't have an athens or similar login from your undergrad days? Try asking and maybe someone will share theirs. Google may help you find logins too.


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Pubmed Central, as suggested below will give you access to the full pdf file of the papers it finds, however it has a smaller selection of papers. If you have found a supervisor of particular interest to you, and you find the reading list they give you are not available on PMC then ask them if they would supply a copy, explaining that you currently do not have FULL access to all journals. This does not mean asking for them ANYWAY; at least do something yourself!! :D

Supergenius; AFAIK not all Unis let you keep your login details. Birmingham Uni have deleted all of my login details, I no longer have access to their e-library. :( I find PMC is good enough to get some background reading but if there is a particular paper that you need and can't get, it can be very annoying. :(


Have you spoken to your local University subject librarian? They really are a great source of wealth on these type of things and often know the ins and outs of how the system works.

You arn't the first PhD student starting off so they are bound to be asked the same thing every year

Good luck (up):-)


Are you in the UK, Triplesteve? If so, it might worth spending some days at the British Library (Boston Spa), they have most journals up there. If not, find a student friend who will let you have access to their athens account, many uni's seem to have moved to a generic username/password system (or not linked to email access), so it shouldn't be too hard getting access.