Whenever I tell people about my job as a PhD student they tell me that they could “never work on the same thing for four years!”.
Like doing your PhD is mindlessly slaving on one specific task, non-stop, for four years. I guess it’s one of the most common misconceptions about doing your PhD. While it is true that I am spending four years working towards one thing: my dissertation and defence, I am not working on one thing at all.
In fact, being a PhD student is a very diverse job with a lot of possibilities and quite some freedom to choose. After four (or three, or five) years, your dissertation needs to be finished, but it’s not like you can decide to start writing it on your first day.
Things that need to be done before you can finish your dissertation:
- You need to read about your subject
- Your research needs to be planned
- Data needs to be collected
- Instruments should be developed (or found somewhere)
- You will spend time finding participants
- Data needs to be analysed (maybe you even need to spare some time for data cleaning)
- Results need to be interpreted
- And of course those results should be written down
- You will have to spend some time researching journals that you want to publish in
- You will spend endless hours polishing your text until it is perfect (although it never will be)
- You’ll have numerous meetings with your supervisor(s) to discuss all these different steps