How to Survive Your PhD: The Insider's Guide to Avoiding Mistakes, Choosing the Right Program, Working with Professors, and Just How a Person Actually Writes a 200-Page Paper

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9781402226670: How to Survive Your PhD: The Insider's Guide to Avoiding Mistakes, Choosing the Right Program, Working with Professors, and Just How a Person Actually Writes a 200-Page Paper
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How to Survive Your PhD is your insider's guide to avoiding mistakes, choosing the right program, working with professors, and just how a person actually writes a 200-page paper

When you're getting your PhD, you never know what surprises to expect. But now, you can be prepared! How to Survive Your PhD is your step-by-step guide to the right way to tackle every part of the doctoral process.

Getting your PhD is not an easy process, and the decisions you make before and during your doctoral work can mean the different between having a PhD in four years or eight, Jason Karp has been there – and made the mistakes – and he shows you just what to avoid, what you should be doing, and how to make the best use of your time and resources.

Plus insider tips on:

  • Choosing Your School
  • Dealing with Finances
  • Picking the Right Academic Advisor
  • Researching the Dissertation
  • Managing Your Time
  • The Exams
  • Tricks of the Trade
  • The Defense
  • And so much more

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About the Author:

Dr. Jason Karp received his PhD in exercise physiology in 2007 after seven years of doctoral work, during which he learned everything you shouldn't do if you want a PhD in four years. He is a prolific freelance writer and professional running coach. He lives in San Diego, CA.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

"Life is the sum of all your choices."
—Albert Camus

When I was in high school, my electronics teacher had a silly, fortune-cookie saying to remind his students not to touch electrical wires with two hands and risk shock: "One hand in pockey, no get shockey." Like touching wires with both hands, there's a wrong way to do almost everything. For example, going down a park slide head first, throwing a paper airplane at your high school teacher, and not buying your twin brother a birthday present, instead claiming that you forgot his birthday, would all be considered by most as errors in judgment. I'll be the first to admit I don't always make the best decisions; but I've learned a great deal from my mistakes and, hopefully, you can, too.

Life, as we all know, is full of choices. Some choices are big (like where you attend college, who you marry, whether or not you have kids), but some choices are small (like which movie you see, whether you buy a microwave at Target or Walmart, whether you have a grande peppermint mocha Frappuccino or a venti chai latté at Starbucks). Some of the choices we make are good, and some are bad. However, the key to making any choice, especially the more important ones, is information. The more information we have about our options, the better the chance of making good decisions. And when it comes to getting a PhD degree, there are many options and many choices.

Choosing the PhD

Everyone is different, and naturally, people choose to get a PhD for a variety of reasons, including:

  • For the pursuit of knowledge
  • For the prerequisite to becoming a college professor
  • For the love of research
  • For future professional opportunities
  • For the delay of getting a job
  • For status and acclaim
  • For fear of "the real world"
  • For an ego boost (my favorite reason)

Ego
Ego is such a big part of the PhD that it should be spelled with a capital E. Despite what someone tells you is his or her reason for achieving a doctorate degree, there is always at least some amount of Ego behind it-there are tons of people in academia with big Egos. After all, it's pretty cool to be called "doctor." Let's face it: it makes you feel good.

Did you know that less than 1 percent of the U.S. population has a PhD? According to the Chronicle of Higher Education and National Science Foundation, 43,354 PhDs were awarded by U.S. schools in 2005 (their most recent data). Of these, 27,974 were awarded in science and engineering disciplines, and 15,380 were awarded in liberal arts and humanities disciplines. In the sciences, 7,406 PhDs were awarded in agricultural science; biological science; computer science; earth, atmospheric, and ocean sciences; and mathematics; 3,647 were awarded in chemistry; physics; astronomy; psychology; and social sciences; and 6,404 were awarded in engineering (e.g., chemical, civil, electrical, mechanical, and other types). Sounds like a lot of PhDs hanging around, but these figures are actually quite small when you consider there are over 300 million people living and working in the United States.

These small numbers are one reason why doctors, whether they've earned PhDs or MDs, hold such a prestigious role in society today. People look up to them. Ego may not be the driving force behind someone's decision to pursue his or her PhD, but it's usually there if you look deep enough.

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