How brave were you in starting your PHD?

posted
26-Dec-16, 08:09
edited about 4 seconds later
Avatar for blocksof
posted about 4 years ago
Just a generic question, I'm thinking about starting a PhD, but there is a lot of self-doubt as there has been no research/literature review in the field I want to study.
posted
26-Dec-16, 08:18
edited about 21 seconds later
Avatar for Mattfabb
posted about 4 years ago
No previous research? Or do you mean, you havent done any research yet?

Because if it's the former, then I dont think it's a good idea to do a PhD on it. If it's the latter, then you should start reading. I think in about 2-3 months you shoud be able to gain enough insight in the field to be able to put together a proposal.
posted
27-Dec-16, 14:35
edited about 20 seconds later
Avatar for blocksof
posted about 4 years ago
I completed the research for my Master's and been reading up in the area I'm interested in ever since, again the proposal is soo niche that it falls under sustainable energy, efficient buildings, micro generation & DNG and electrical engineering. To answer you question on no previous research, I thought PhD was to research new ideas and proposals?
posted
28-Dec-16, 12:28
edited about 52 seconds later
by Ephiny
Avatar for Ephiny
posted about 4 years ago
Of course a PhD is about doing new research, but usually that means making a (small) contribution to an already-established field, not inventing an entirely new field that has never been researched before :).

However, it sounds like your proposal is actually an interdisciplinary one that draws from multiple fields? If that's the case, it's an opportunity to do some very interesting and unique research. The only problem is that with interdisciplinary projects there can be difficulty getting other people to understand or accept your work, e.g. when it comes to submitting to journals or conferences, or choosing your PhD examiners. Also, when applying for postdocs or jobs afterwards, or looking for teaching opportunities, sometimes you can end up not having enough expertise in any one field compared to other PhDs who have specialised in that one field.

You also have to be very independent when doing interdisciplinary research, as even if you have multiple supervisors, only you will be the expert in your particular intersection between the different fields. That may be a good or bad thing depending on your perspective!
posted
28-Dec-16, 17:51
edited about 14 seconds later
by pm133
Avatar for pm133
posted about 4 years ago
A PhD is not necessarily about doing small tweaks. Dont be afraid of doing something totally new. I would however suggest that your area of interest is probably not as untrodden as you think. There may well be things others have not thoght of but its unlikely you have discovered a vast plain of totally uncharted territory. If you HAVE discovered something totally uncharted then you have the chance to do something truly great and I would absolutely encourage you to do it if its what you want.
posted
29-Dec-16, 21:17
edited about 1 minute later
Avatar for Mattfabb
posted about 4 years ago
Quote From blocksof:
I completed the research for my Master's and been reading up in the area I'm interested in ever since, again the proposal is soo niche that it falls under sustainable energy, efficient buildings, micro generation & DNG and electrical engineering. To answer you question on no previous research, I thought PhD was to research new ideas and proposals?


If you want to know my opinion, the problem a lot of people have with their PhD (including me) is that they expect way to much of themselves. You are not supposed to revolutionise your field. You are just making a contribution to existing knowledge. A PhD research project in UK has to be doable in 3-4 years, and realistically speaking, in those 3-4 years you are also learning to become an academic, so you have to attend conferences and teach if possible. Think of the PhD as getting a driving licence. The PhD is just a piece of paper that proves you can do independent research. Your hypothesis must be original, of course, but you are not expected to create a new field of knowledge by yourself. Your examiners would eat you alive at the viva.

So, going back to your point, is there enough evidence out there for you to sink your teeth in? Do you already have enough material to be able to formulate an initial hypothesis? If so, that would be a good starting point!
posted
30-Dec-16, 02:58
edited about 29 seconds later
by pm133
Avatar for pm133
posted about 4 years ago
There is another way to think about this. If you are trying to differentiate yourself from the hundreds of other PhD qualified people applying for the same academic posts you will need something to help you stand out. I am not sure that playing it safe is either exciting or strategically a good move in a crowded market place.

I can only give you a feel for what I would do. I wish when I had been younger I had taken more risks. I played a lot of stuff pretty safe. I had solid challenges along the way, a good career and plenty of money but somewhere along the line the excitement disappeared. I had to start again. Now I am more motivated towards bigger risks and I feel more alive. There are huge bouts of self doubt and panic though so it is not all plain sailing.

So there you have it. Pretty much both scales of the argument have been presented. The only thing that matters is how much risk you want to take on? There are no guarantees with either of the pieces of advice you have been given.

Good luck with your decision.
posted
31-Dec-16, 01:27
edited about 20 seconds later
Avatar for blocksof
posted about 4 years ago
Thank you for the replies. Mattfbb I've been thinking about this project for the last 2 years, I have the designs, layout, experimental testing and also ideas how to implement the technology into a wider range of buildings written on scraps of paper. @pm133, I never liked playing safe, to me if you don't push yourself above your boundaries then you don't what you can achieve. If you failed, then learn from the mistakes and move on, as they say, some of the best projects were due to mistakes Postit!
posted
01-Jan-17, 13:03
edited about 13 seconds later
Avatar for Tudor_Queen
posted about 3 years ago
Go for it but make a contingency plan as well.
posted
03-Jan-17, 20:26
edited about 26 seconds later
Avatar for Hanginthere
posted about 3 years ago
Like most of the others have noted, I'd say go for it. My PhD is in a relatively new area. At first, I thought this was going to be a challenge, but my supervisor reckons that it is a blessing in disguise, as my findings will seek to explain why the area has not been researched should.
Good luck.

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