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What Does PhD Stand For?
The doctorate or PhD degree is the highest academic degree available. For a thesis that makes an original contribution to your subject area, the title usually requires three to four years of full-time work.
This article defines a doctorate, what it entails and what you need to know before applying for a doctoral project or enrolling in a doctoral program.
A PhD is a globally recognized postgraduate academic degree awarded by universities and higher education institutions to a candidate who has submitted a thesis or dissertation, based on extensive and original research in their chosen field.
Doctors of Philosophy have the ability to become legends. Is it true that only geniuses can help them? Do you want to learn something amazing? Does your academic position depend on your degree?
Even the full title of “Doctor of Philosophy” is a little confusing.
Are you planning on becoming a doctor when you grow up? This isn’t a medical situation, though. Is learning philosophy a requirement? But (not unless you want to).
Before we go any further, let’s define “PhD” and what it entails.
What is a PhD?
A doctor of philosophy (PhD) is a degree given to those who have completed advanced studies in philosophy.
PhD is one of the highest-ranking degrees available. PhD is an abbreviation of the Latin term (Ph) ilosophiae (D) octor. Traditionally, the term “philosophy” has been used to refer to the ancient Greek definition of the word, which approximately translates to “lover of wisdom.”
What is a doctorate and how does it differ from a master’s degree?
Every degree leading to a doctorate is referred to as a doctoral degree. To be considered for this, you must have completed advanced research which is instrumental in adding expertise in your field. As a result, you get the title “Doctor”, hence the name.
So how does a PhD differ from a PhD?
No, a doctorate is called a doctorate.
Doctorates are the most common type of doctorate and are awarded in almost all subjects at universities worldwide. Other doctorates are more specialized or geared more towards practical and professional purposes. In principle, all doctorates are doctorates, but not all doctorates are doctorates.
Is Master's Degree Required for a PhD?
Certainly not. Students in the Arts and Humanities frequently earn an MA (Master of Arts) before beginning a PhD to gain research skills and techniques. Students majoring in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) don’t always require an MS/MSc (Master of Science) to pursue a PhD because they’ll get lab experience and other abilities throughout their undergraduate studies.
Whether or not a Master’s degree is required for a PhD varies by country. As a substitute for their own ‘honours year,’ Australian PhDs may be required to complete a Master’s degree (where students work on research). A Master’s degree is frequently included in PhD programmes in the United States.
The PhD's Beginnings
The PhD is not an Ancient Greek degree, despite its name. It’s a lot more recent development instead. Along with the contemporary research university, the PhD as we know it was developed in nineteenth-century Germany.
Higher education had typically focused on mastery of an existing body of scholarship, with a Masters degree being the highest academic rank attainable.
The PhD degree was introduced to recognise people who demonstrated the necessary abilities and expertise as the focus shifted more toward the production of new knowledge and ideas.
The (PhD) Doctoral Procedure: What is Required for a Doctorate?
The doctorate usually lasts three to four years full-time or five to six years part-time.
Unlike most master’s programs (or all undergraduate programs), a PhD a mere research degree, but that doesn’t mean you’ll be locked up in a library or laboratory for years. and varied assessment with many different components.
While the second or third year of a particular degree is very similar to the first (with more modules and courses at a higher level), a doctorate goes through several phases.
A typical PhD entails the following:
Conducting a literature review (a survey of current scholarship in your field).
Performing original research and compiling your findings.
Creating a thesis that summarises your findings.
Putting your thesis together and turning it in as a dissertation.
In an oral viva voce exam, you must defend your thesis.
These stages differ slightly between disciplines and universities, but they generally follow the same pattern during the course of a standard three-year full-time PhD.
A PhD Student's Ist Year
The first year of a PhD is all about establishing yourself as a researcher and gaining a firm foundation in current literature on your field.
You’ll meet with your supervisor for the first time to discuss your research proposal and a plan of action.
Performing your literature review is probably certainly the initial stage in this process. You’ll start by surveying and analysing current scholarship with the help of your supervisor. This will aid in situating your study and ensuring the originality of your work.
Your literature review will serve as a reasonable starting point for the start of your own study and data collection. This could entail devising and carrying out tests, or digging through a stack of primary sources.
It’s possible that the year will end with an MPhil upgrade. When PhD students are first registered for an MPhil degree and then ‘upgraded’ to PhD candidates after making sufficient progress, this happens.
In an upgrade exam, you’ll submit information from your literature review or a draught of your research findings, which you’ll discuss with members of your department. If all goes well, you’ll continue your research as a PhD student.
A PhD Student's IInd Year
The majority of your core research will likely take place in your second year. Depending on your field, the procedure will vary, but the major focus will be on acquiring data from experiments, archival research, surveys, and other sources.
The thesis (or argument) you base your study on will evolve as well. You may even start drafting chapters or other parts of your dissertation now.
Your supervisor and you will continue to meet on a regular basis. They’ll keep an eye on your progress, give you input on your ideas, and most likely read any draughts you submit.
The second year is also a critical period in your academic growth. You’ll be well-versed in current research and have started collecting data or developing your own ideas.
However, you will not yet be faced with the difficult and time-consuming work of completing your dissertation. As a result, this stage of your PhD is an excellent opportunity to consider giving talks at academic conferences, obtaining teaching experience, or even selecting material for publishing in a peer-reviewed journal.
A PhD Student's IIIrd Year
The writing up period of a PhD is commonly referred to as the third year. This is traditionally the last stage of your PhD, when you’ll be tasked with compiling your findings and refining your thesis into a dissertation.
In reality, it isn’t always that simple. It’s fairly uncommon for PhD students in their final year to be fine-tuning studies, collecting data, or tracking down a few extra sources. This is especially true if you devote a portion of your second year to professional development.
In fact, some students spend the whole fourth year or a portion of it doing their dissertation. The terms of your enrolment – and maybe your PhD financing – will determine whether you are able to do so.
However, you will eventually be required to write your thesis and submit your dissertation. This is a process in which your supervisor will be heavily involved. They’ll go over your final draught with you and let you know when they believe your PhD is ready to submit.
The only thing left is your final viva voce oral examination. This is a formal discussion and defence of your thesis, with at least one internal and external examiner in attendance. It’s usually the only way to evaluate a PhD candidate. You’ve completed the task once you’ve passed!
What is it like to be a doctorate?
The “stages” mentioned above might be thought of as a basic “roadmap” for a PhD, but the real “travel” you will take as a research student will include many additional intriguing spots, some optional destinations, and at least one very significant partner.
PhD and Research
As a doctorate student, you spend the majority of your time researching your PhD thesis, which is understandable. However, this term can refer to a surprising number of activities.
When you’re supervising experiments or researching literature, the stereotype of a student working in a laboratory or sitting in a library with a stack of books can be true. However, your PhD can take you much further.
It’s possible that you’ll find yourself visiting archives or facilities to study data or look at rare source materials. You could even be able to spend a length of time ‘in residence’ at a research centre or another institution outside of your university.
In addition, research is not a solo endeavour. You’ll meet with your supervisor on a regular basis, but you may also collaborate with other students on occasion.
This is especially true if you’re part of a larger laboratory or workshop group working on a comparable issue. Collaboration among students working on various projects is also prevalent. You can join groups that plan events and presentations, or you can work on smaller, mutually beneficial projects on your own.
Many universities also organise in-house presentations and panel discussions, which are a fantastic way to meet and provide feedback to other PhD students in your field.
Cooperation with Your Supervisor
All doctoral projects are carried out under the direction of at least one academic supervisor, who will be your main contact person and supervisor for the entire duration of the doctorate.
Your supervisor will be an expert in your general research area, but he will never have done research on your exact topic (if so, your project would not be original enough for a PhD).
It is better to see your manager as a mentor than a teacher. As a PhD student, you are now an independent and original scientist who pushes the boundaries of your subject beyond what is currently known (and taught) about it.
You are doing all of this for the first time, of course. It’s not your boss. They’ll understand what it takes to run a three-year advanced research project (or more).
They’ll know how to succeed, but they’ll also be aware of what could go wrong and how to recognise the warning signs before it happens. Most importantly, they will have the time and experience to listen to your ideas and provide comments and support as you work on your thesis.
The specifics of supervision differ between universities and projects:
A supervisor is often the primary investigator on a larger research project in Science and Technology, with responsibility for a laboratory or workshop that includes numerous PhD students and other researchers.
A supervisor’s research in Arts and Humanities topics is more distinct from that of their pupils. They may supervise multiple PhDs at the same time, but each project is treated as an independent entity.
Furthermore, PhD candidates are increasingly likely to have two (or more) supervisors. The former is in charge of your academic research, while the latter is in charge of supervising your doctoral thesis to ensure that you complete your education on time.
As part of your project’s strategy Regardless of how you are cared for, you will have regular meetings to discuss the job and assess your progress.
Your supervisor will offer you with feedback on your work throughout your doctorate and will play an important role as you near graduation: they will read your final draught, support you in choosing an external reviewer, and (hopefully) accompany you for a celebratory drink.
PhD: a Education, Networking, and Communication
The doctorate is traditionally understood as a training process that prepares students for a scientific career. As such, it often includes the opportunity to acquire additional skills and experience that are an important part of an academic curriculum.
After all, scientists don’t just do research; they also teach students, manage departments and supervise doctoral students. The modern doctorate is also considered a flexible degree.
Not all doctoral students end up in higher education. Many pursue alternative careers related to their area of expertise or based on the advanced research skills developed by their doctoral thesis. This is also reflected in the doctoral programs. Many today place great emphasis on transferable skills or include special training sessions designed to help students communicate and apply their research outside of class.
All of this means that relatively few doctoral degrees concentrate exclusively on researching and writing a dissertation.
What are the Options During PhD?
During your PhD, you will almost certainly do some (or all) of the following:
PhD students often have the opportunity to train university students in their respective institutions.In most cases, this involves leading classroom exercises in small groups, demonstrating methods and experiments, and offering tutoring. Work is often paid and formal training and assessment are becoming more common.
ii. Conference Presentation
As a PhD student, you are at the forefront of your field, doing unique research and generating new knowledge. This indicates that your research is of interest to other scientists and that your results are worth presenting at scientific conferences.
This is worth doing regardless of your career plans. You will develop transferable speaking and presentation skills, receive feedback on your results, and be recognized as an expert in your field. Conferences are also good places to network. with other students. and academics.
In addition to presenting your research, you have the opportunity to publish your work in scientific journals, books or other media.
This can be a challenging process. Your work will be judged to the same high standards as that of other scientists and will usually go through extensive peer-review processes.
But it’s also very rewarding. Seeing your work “in print” is an incredible endorsement of your dissertation and a definite boost to your academic resume.
iv. Public Relations and Communication
Scientific work may be associated with the myth of the “ivory tower,” an isolated community of experts focused on obscure topics of little interest outside of the university, but this is nowhere near the case.
The “impact” of research and its wider public benefits are increasingly emphasized, and funding decisions are made accordingly.
Fortunately, as a doctoral student there are many ways to test public participation. Universities often participate in local events and initiatives to communicate the benefits of their research, from workshops at local schools to lectures and public presentations.
Some PhD programmes incorporate structured instruction to assist students with tasks like the ones listed above.
Your supervisor may also be able to assist you by pointing you in the direction of acceptable conferences and public engagement opportunities, as well as participating you in appropriate university events and public engagement efforts.
These experiences will be crucial to your growth as a researcher, and will increase the value of your PhD regardless of your future aspirations.
What is the Purpose of a PhD, and Who Should Pursue One?
So now you know what a PhD is, what it entails to complete one, and what you might accomplish while doing one. Only one more question remains: should you pursue a PhD?
We’re afraid we can’t help you with this.
A PhD is an extremely demanding and specialised task. After you’ve earned your undergraduate degree, you’ll need to put in at least three years of effort and attention (and probably a Masters degree too).
During those years, you’ll need to sustain yourself, and while you’ll be honing an outstanding set of abilities, you won’t be directly developing in a profession.
A PhD, on the other hand, is extremely satisfying. It’s your chance to add to the total of human knowledge by producing work that other scholars can (and will) expand on in the future. There is no such thing as a useless PhD, no matter how obscure your topic appears.
A PhD is something to be quite proud of as well. Only a small percentage of people continue on to conduct academic work at this level. Whatever you do with your PhD, you’ll have an excellent qualification – and a title to go along with it. In addition, non-academic careers and professions are increasingly appreciating the unique talents and experience that a PhD provides.
Should I do PhD?
Elsewhere in this section, you can find more advice about the value of a doctorate and good reasons to study one. Talk to your teachers / tutors.
After completing a PhD, the best thing to do is to ask who has obtained a PhD. Ask the staff at your current or former university about their experiences in doctoral research – what they enjoyed, what they didn’t and what advice they could give.
If you are considering a PhD for an academic career, ask about it too. Are the job prospects in your area good? And what is it really like to work at a university?
Speak with PhD students who are currently enrolled in programmes
Do you want to know how it feels to be a PhD student right now? Or how it is to conduct research at a specific institution? Inquire with an expert. Current PhD students were in your shoes a year or two ago, and the majority of them will gladly answer your queries. If you can’t meet any students in person, head over to the Postgraduate Forum, where you’ll find lots of students willing to talk about postgraduate research.
Examine the projects and programmes that have been advertised
This may appear to be an odd recommendation. After all, you’ll only be studying one PhD, so why waste time learning about others? Examining the specifics of other PhD projects, on the other hand, is a terrific approach to obtain a general idea of what PhD research entails. You’ll learn what PhDs have in common and what kinds of opportunities you might have.
Take a Look at Funded PhD Programs
We’ve looked at some of the benefits (and drawbacks) of pursuing a PhD, as well as how a doctorate might help you advance in your job. You may learn more about general areas of doctorate studies, such as working with a supervisor or writing your dissertation, by reading our in-depth look at a typical PhD journey. We regularly publish new articles; the best way to keep up with them is to subscribe to our free PhD opportunity email.