PhD Survival Guides--are any worth it!?


Can any one recommend a good book/guide for PhD application advice? I need help with my personal statement/proposal. I've just been on amazon and there are about a thousand variations of "How to Survive Your PhD". Just wondering if any one knows from experience if any are worth buying? I'm in the humanities. Thanks. Maria.


Hi Maria,

We had a few of these lying round the department when I started. I can whole heartedly recommend "Your Ph.D. companion" (Marshall and Green). Its written with wit, not bogged down in unnescessary detail and easy to dip in and out of. Avoid "How to get a Ph.D." (Pugh) because it's written like a Ph.D. thesis... I found the former to be quite motivational and the latter to be confusing. Worth noting that I'm talking from a science point of view.


I bought quite a lot of PhD/research guides when I started,and found them to be a waste of time and money.

An exception which lots of people mention (though I've not read it) is Joan Bolker's Writing Your Dissertation in Fifteen Minutes A Day.


I agree with TheAce - "Your PhD Companion" is a pretty useful book. Outlines some of the main problems/difficulties you will face, but without going into too much detail. If you want detail just ask around the department.

As fas as help with the application and proposal, you can probably find what you need on the web or on the website of the uni that you are applying to. This link to Nottingham uni seems to give fairly good advice:

It would be a good idea to be in contact with prospective supervisors before or while you are making your application.
Good luck!


My uni gives a few of these books out to every new student, one I liked was 'The Unwritten Rules of PhD Research' by Gordon Rugg and Marian Petre.