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Doctoral Study: The Next Step in the Academic Journey

Electing to undertake doctoral study is the first serious step on the journey toward a career in academia. As such, doctoral research represents one of the biggest commitments a scholar can make: in effect, dedicating one’s professional life to the pursuit of a particular discipline of enquiry. Discipline, here, is the key word. Doctoral study is hard work and many years of it; and, for this reason, it is in one sense a “calling”, a vocational endeavour as opposed to a “traditional” career path. It is no coincidence that the majority of doctoral students exhibit a more than professional interest in their subject. Doing a PhD or MPhil demands a degree of passion for the topic being studied and, furthermore, for the studious kind of life such study necessitates. As all PhD students will acknowledge, doctoral work can be a very solitary pursuit, requiring long hours sequestered in the library; requiring, moreover, much self-led study, much independent effort and direction. A prerequisite for success, it therefore follows, is the ability to be self-motivated – and thus to have the necessary drive not only to carry the task through to the close but to do so to the best of one’s capabilities. In simple terms, such an endeavour is to be taken in earnest and with good notice of what is to come. One must prepare, physically and psychologically, for the sustained level of commitment needed to complete a doctoral thesis. The first step in this preparation is here and now; indeed, currently underway, in the researching task ahead.

The Doctoral Thesis: The Beginning of Your Life’s Work

PhD study is a considerable step up, in breadth and depth, from Masters level work, and students need to be conscious of this distinction well in advance, so best to be prepared. The finest academic work does not simply spring forth as if by revelation; rather, it is the result of dedicated effort, continual revision and refining, and circumspect editing. Thorough preparation, the bedrock of all the above, is in consequence the most important component of PhD and MPhil study. Consider that the doctoral thesis represents a considerable task, a book length effort no less; and that, moreover, the finished piece will likely be your first publication as a professional academic. Accordingly, the thesis is a highly important piece of work, one that will reflect your achievements as a scholar and which, one hopes, will contribute meaningfully to the subject which it addresses. It would be dishonest, therefore, to assert that there is no pressure at stake in a composition of such evident and enduring significance to one’s academic career and reputation. Doctoral study is indeed somewhat daunting, as any task of equal stature should be. Any worthwhile undertaking tends to be a difficult one; and, to some extent, therein lies the merit. Sad to say, the gravity of completing the thesis gets the better of many a student who fail to finish and thus fail the degree. You do not want to waste years of hard work – years of your life – only to miss the final objective. Again, thorough preparation is the way to avoid such pitfalls. Even in the simple act acknowledging the magnitude of the task ahead, one is taking charge of the situation by charting its lines and edges: by making a clear picture in one’s mind. When one knows the distance to be travelled, when one visualises the task ahead, one is better equipped to be adequately provisioned. So, what preparations are to be made?

Thorough Planning and the Bigger Picture

Let us begin in the most straightforward way, by looking at the bigger picture. What does a doctoral degree involve? The first thing to say is that PhD and MPhil courses are heterogeneous in character; indeed, they are in large part tailored to the pupil’s precise interests and study requirements and thus are, so to speak, “bespoke”. Nevertheless, there are certain demands common to all doctoral courses; in consequence, these are the areas we can address in advance. Such areas include frequent study and research commitments, continual coursework assignments, and ongoing thesis composition: all of which will be familiar to students, from previous study courses. The crucial difference, however, is the scale of the work now expected; and this is where professional assistance can be a vital boon. First and foremost, a professional academic writing service can help students in the preparation stages by, for instance, forming a study plan, drafting early chapters, scaffolding the overall thesis, completing annotated bibliographies and literature reviews, as well as simply offering overall advice and guidance. Further, a professional service can assist greatly with the compositional upkeep of the thesis, affording a vital editing and proofreading service that ensures that your work is constantly at its best – in form and content. One should recall that all professional writers have editors helping them in exactly this manner. Why, then, should scholarly composition be any different? With comprehensive editing services at your disposal there is no need for your work ever to suffer any blemish at the hands of grammatical error, syntactic and/or semantic confusion, and, certainly, typos should be unheard of. These first simple steps are very easy to take and will invariably assist the doctoral student.

Important Decisions: The Right Research Question

The next great difference between Masters and PhD level study is the depth of critical analyses expected of the student. With doctoral study, one really does need to contribute to the discipline in a significant way. This can be done by a variety of means, but certainly the first item to address is one’s thesis topic. Alighting on an apt research question is simply imperative. What is meant, here, by apt? First consider that the thesis will be a part of your life for years to come; also that it will likely set the course of your future research. Hence one needs to establish a research question that peaks and will sustain one’s interest; that one is happy to live and breathe with for the foreseeable future. In arriving at a research question, then, one needs to dedicate careful time and reflection. Once more, enlisting the assistance of professionals can be a huge benefit in helping you clarify what your precise interests are, as well as what the most advantageous approaches to it might be.

Taking it to the Next Level: Advanced Analyses

Having selected a good research question, the next level of progression concerns the calibre of analyses required for a quality thesis. Essentially, the difference is that between amateur and professional standard scholarly work – and that difference is sizable. At the doctoral level, one really needs to bring a higher level of critical thinking to the table; to be able to dissect relevant critical issues in a highly precision manner and to do so in far greater depth than previous study demanded. Let us consider an analogy which will render the case more plainly. Whereas in Masters level work, one was unearthing potsherds and fragments of insight, PhD study is more akin to excavating an entire structure of knowledge. In practical terms, this means going the extra mile in one’s research, perhaps literally so – travelling to people and places relevant to your research, investigating, discovering, getting to answers and indeed questions not yet considered. In so doing, one needs to cultivate an originality of thought, a methodological distinction that permits of new avenues of insight. The fact is you are no longer just reading books; you are, to all intents and purposes, writing one. As a result, you need to establish something which adds to the field. Scholarship will not benefit by the recycling of pre-existing ideas. You need to bring something new to light or at least to cast new light on an existing area of research. While the exact constituents of such innovations will be peculiar to the student, there are certainly means of optimising one’s critical abilities. This is where professional writing services can be of assistance. We can guide you in cultivating a unique methodological perspective, offering guidelines and suggestions for modes of approach; providing step-by-step tutelage in advanced analytical techniques; as well as continual editorial assistance that ensures your prose is on course, rigorous, and lucid. In short, we can help you take your work to the next level.

Final Thoughts: The Road Less Travelled

Doctoral study is a profoundly rewarding and exciting endeavour, one which will be a great asset to the student both professionally and personally. Just as long as one begins one’s study with eyes wide open and a good view of the road ahead, taking all necessary precautions, the long journey to obtaining the PhD or MPhil will be an insightful and enjoyable one. In this journey, good planning and preparation will be your guide every step of the way; and, with the help of professional academic writing services, you can be assured your work will arrive at the tutor’s desk in the finest possible finished form.

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