Starting PhD after 4 years of job

posted
27-Jul-15, 11:11
edited about 13 seconds later
by ricki29
Avatar for ricki29
posted about 4 years ago
Hi All,

I have just started my PhD after working for 4 long years in a non-science field. I am bit anxious and apprehensive about the road I have chosen to walk on. I have been talking to some PhD students lately, who shared their positive and negative experiences that they've had since the start of their PhD journey.

I am worried and would like to know whats the best way to start a PhD, is it just reading as many research papers as we can and taking notes of it?

Also, whats the best time and an appropriate way to start writing a review paper? How should I go about it?

Really appreciate help.
posted
27-Jul-15, 11:34
edited about 10 seconds later
by Hugh
Avatar for Hugh
posted about 4 years ago
Quote From ricki29:
Hi All,

I have just started my PhD after working for 4 long years in a non-science field. I am bit anxious and apprehensive about the road I have chosen to walk on. I have been talking to some PhD students lately, who shared their positive and negative experiences that they've had since the start of their PhD journey.

I am worried and would like to know whats the best way to start a PhD, is it just reading as many research papers as we can and taking notes of it?

Also, whats the best time and an appropriate way to start writing a review paper? How should I go about it?

Really appreciate help.


What area is your PhD in? Did you write the proposal or your supervisor? Is there a well defined topic? Do you know about research methods?
posted
27-Jul-15, 12:00
by ricki29
Avatar for ricki29
posted about 4 years ago
Hi,

The area of my PhD is cancer, looking at the genetics and epigenetics side of a typical form of cancer.

The research proposal was written by my supervisor, however, we had a discussion before I joined his lab. The research topic is quite well-defined, also I am trying my best to understand the methods and techniques explained in the proposal. Till now, I am finding it bit stressful, e.g., I am taking more time in understanding a research paper and I have to go back and forth, read again and again the same paper to understand techniques and procedures involved. I do know some research methods as my masters was by research. Is it fine to ask the same doubts to a supervisor repeatedly?

Please advice.
posted
27-Jul-15, 13:20
Avatar for TreeofLife
posted about 4 years ago
Hi ricki, I was in exactly the same position as you 4 years ago when I started my PhD. It was a massive learning curve coming back to science after a 5 year break, but don't worry, I'm proof it can be done as I submitted my thesis a couple of weeks ago!

My advice would be recognise that the first week is going to be very difficult and then you will have peaks and troughs as you go through. Don't let your supervisors know how inexperienced you are - give them a good first impression! Do ask for help from the other people in the lab though. My supervisors just handed me a protocol and told me to do it. There was no way I could - I had no idea what any of it meant. I just asked the people in the lab to help me, and then when I did it, I went to the supervisor with the result and told them so and so helped me. They were fine with that, what they wouldn't have liked was if I didn't show any initiative - if I had told them I couldn't do, or asked them for help, or just didn't do it.

You will fine that everyone knows more than you. You will make stupid mistakes. You will look back in a few months/years time and think 'what an idiot I was'. This is all totally normal.

On the plus side, you have research experience, so you won't need to ask how to pour an agar plate or how to calculate a 1 M solution, like I did. Good luck and I hope you enjoy it!
posted
28-Jul-15, 13:09
by ricki29
Avatar for ricki29
posted about 4 years ago
Hi TreeofLife,

Thanks for all the encouragement! :) After reading your post, my anxiety has dropped down a bit :)

Cheers
posted
30-Jul-15, 01:06
edited about 18 seconds later
Avatar for Mackem_Beefy
posted about 4 years ago
Quote From ricki29:
Hi All,

I have just started my PhD after working for 4 long years in a non-science field. I am bit anxious and apprehensive about the road I have chosen to walk on. I have been talking to some PhD students lately, who shared their positive and negative experiences that they've had since the start of their PhD journey.

I am worried and would like to know whats the best way to start a PhD, is it just reading as many research papers as we can and taking notes of it?

Also, whats the best time and an appropriate way to start writing a review paper? How should I go about it?

Really appreciate help.


I went into my PhD after five years out after Masters. I personally found it an advantage, as I was was older and finally mature enough for the challenge. I also couldn;t have tackled it straight after masters, as at that stage I was weary of being a student and the break recharged me in that respect.

Starting is about reading as many relevant key papers as you can, fulling in th eothers as you go along plus any new pieces of work you become aware of. However, I concede constant literature review is boring and I'd advise also beginning to use any equipment you might use, say, in a Science or Engieering PhD.

It was during this early fiddling around I managed to achieve my first original finding and as a result i got a flyer at the start. However, don't expect that to happen as a PhD is a marathon and not a sprint. It's more likely you'll obtain your original data once the programme proper begins in earnest.

As regards writing a review paper, that may depend upon subject. This is one area I would sit down with your supervisor to discuss how to go about it. The review paper may form the basis of your literature review in your final thesis, this critical appraisal is the key.

Ian
posted
31-Jul-15, 11:41
by Hugh
Avatar for Hugh
posted about 4 years ago
If your research topic is well defined, the first thing I would do is enroll myself on a methodology course/module.

So if the methods suggested is ethnography for example, get yourself on qualitative research course.

Master the methods and then things will seem easier.
posted
21-Aug-15, 00:54
Avatar for sisyphus
posted about 4 years ago
4 years? Pah! I'd been out 8 before I started.

You will not know some things, and you will not remember the things that the young graduates know, who literally just finished learning the theory last year...

However you will be far more efficient, much more motivated (no lie in to watch Jeremy Kyle), more able to get on with people, and more able to think of dependencies. In short you are the one with the advantage.

My advice is spend as much time as you can getting back to speed with theory. Read papers, textbook chapters, and all relevant news, so you can at least know the context you will be working in. The specifics you will get when you start.

Oh, and enjoy it :-)

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