November 3, 2017, by Lisa Chin

The Doctoral Journey: Perspectives

This post is written by Dr Kalaimani Markandan, UNMC alumna. 

“Easy choices, hard life; hard choices, easy life,” Jerzy Gregorek. Four years ago, it was time for me to make a tough decision; declining an offer as process engineer and deciding to pursue PhD at University of Nottingham. My road to PhD had been exhausting at times, however the final output was certainly a major achievement and a hugely gratifying event in life. Here are my perspectives for making it through PhD, in a time-efficient way.

Write and write more. 

Write as often and as much as you can as this will not only make you a fluent academic writer but will also assist you in gathering ample feedback and save time on completing your dissertation.

Attend conferences. 

Attending conferences allows you to build network and increase your awareness of recent trends happening in your research field. Most importantly, conferences have been my trial stages to prove and establish my work within the research community.

Don’t work too hard.

The sole purpose of PhD is to address your research objectives in a novel way and prove yourself as an independent researcher. Most of us are not aiming for a Nobel Prize. Make time for your family and friends; they matter the most in the end. Get hobbies that absorbs your mind fully and helps you to concentrate on something completely different from your research. My options were badminton, white water rafting, road trips and hiking. Just find something that makes you feel fulfilled.

Participate and present whenever you can. 

The Graduate School – the best platform for PhD students in UNMC to develop their professional skills. They assist you to practice presenting your research not only as often as you can but to as many audiences as possible. Try participating in their annual Three Minute Thesis and Research Showcase competitions. They are excellent ways to develop your skills for communicating research ideas in a precise, concise and engaging manner. These competitions are great opportunities to bring your research to broad audience, improve your presentation skills and get funded for your conferences!

Last but not least, remember why you started this PhD journey. Frequently remind yourself to push your project forward and dedicate quality time to unraveling one tiny sub-question of your research question every month.

***Dr Kalaimani Markandan graduated with a first class master’s degree in Chemical Engineering in July 2013 and further obtained her PhD degree in July 2017 from University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus. During her PhD studies, she won People’s Choice and Best Press Release awards at the 2015 UNMC Research Showcase; Best Speaker award at the 3rd Asia Conference on Materials and Mechanical Engineering held in Chengdu, China; and grand prize at the 2015 Faculty of Engineering Postgraduate Research Showcase.

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