The 7 secrets of doctoral mediocrity

Many, many, many books have been written on how to obtain a Ph.D degree or how to write a Ph.D thesis. I’m not really into self-help books, but I heard that some books are really helpful. In the Higher Education section of The Australian, Maria Gardiner and Hugh Kearns of Flinders University share their 7 secrets of doctoral success.

During the past 15 years the pair has studied why students battle with perfectionism, over-commit, self-sabotage and lose motivation and focus while writing a PhD. They offer free workshops and seminars to Flinders University PhD students, attracting hundreds of students to ‘the seven secrets of highly successful PhD students’ seminar.

“We’ll have a group of probably 10 confident PhD students and at the end of probably an hour and a half they’re all saying: ‘I don’t think I’m good enough to do this.’ [Good Work!, Ed.] Those negative feelings lead to procrastination and other feelings.”

One participant of their workshops explains how it works:

“I was the coffee shop’s No.1 customer. I was the sort of person who sat around talking and not doing much.” But after learning he did not have to be perfect and his work was unlikely to be worthy of winning a Nobel prize, Mr Moore finished his PhD on schedule. “It helped me to understand it wasn’t the most important thing in the world … and recognition that it didn’t have to be perfect,” he said.

It is so simple. You just lower the expectations, compromise quality, and make students realise that nothing needs to be perfect and you have created highly successful PhD students. You see, it’s not that difficult. After all, to undertake a PhD you only need 10 per cent intelligence and 90 per cent persistence. According to Mr. Kearns.

And if you make it to defending your Ph.D thesis, Kerry Soper has 12 tips on “What not to say at your Dissertation Defense

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