What’s the Easiest PhD?

Six tips for an easy PhD:

  1. Have a good research question.
  2. Use known research tools.
  3. Have accessible data and/or samples.
  4. Build your analytical skills.
  5. Be skilled at word processing.
  6. Stop scope creep.

Transcript:

If you’re thinking about doing a PhD and want to do an easy one, I don’t think there is a good answer for this question of what is the easiest PhD? But certainly, there are ways to make your PhD easier and you can do some of these things right now. If you’re currently enrolled or if you’re thinking about enrolling, you can try and set yourself up for this kind of project.

So, the first is to have a good research question. If you’re already in a PhD, maybe you can revise your research question to improve it. Things you can do to make the research question better are to make it specific. To make it in such a way that you’ll know that you’ve achieved your outcome. So, don’t make the end point vague. So, essentially that means make it measurable in some way. If you have focused on a theoretical outcome, then that might be more likely to be a vague question. But if you’re focused on a practical outcome, knowing how the end user would use the information from your thesis can help make your question better as well.

Users and research tools is tip number 2. So, it’s one thing to do a thesis that results in new work, but you don’t need to develop new tools. So, if you can use tools that already exist, of course your thesis might itself be about developing a new tool. In which case you want to use known tools to build your new tool.

The next thing to make your thesis easier is to have accessible data, and samples. So, this can happen in various ways for various different projects, but the ideal, if you want to make your thesis quote-unquote or your PhD quote-unquote easy is to have a bunch of data already there. All you need to do is analyze it. Bring the data together. There are very large data projects now around the world in Australia, and overseas. That means you could access these data projects. If you can’t do that, you could do other things. For example, if you have control over a bunch of people perhaps, they are your employees. You might be able to force them to participate in some kind of survey. If you’ve got a large enough sample size that could be a suitable PhD project right there. The other option would be if someone has already collected samples for you. So, say you work at a sample bank. A tissue bank then you might go through and analyze those samples which might make collection like again, to make your PhD easier because someone’s already done the collection. They might have already done the staining or the analysis. So, you have accessible samples is I guess the main thing there, and if they’ve already been I guess curated or prepared for you that’s the best.

Now for things that you can do if you’re currently in your PhD, so, if you’ve already designed your question. You might not have a choice over the tools. You might not have a choice over the data samples, but what you do probably have an ability to do is build your analytical skills. So, no matter what kind of PhD you’re in, you’ll need to have analytical skills, and this might manifest as using particular programs or being out of program itself. So, I would go ahead, and build your analytical skills that will make your PhD much easier.

The next thing to do is be skilled in word processing. Very few PhDs don’t need to be written up at the end or don’t need a word-processed file document at the end. So, build your word processing skills as well.

Finally, stop scope creep. So, scope creep is where your PhD kind of changes based on information you found. That might be good, but it might also be bad. In most cases, people will argue, “Oh yes, change the scope of your PhD project because it’ll make it better”. But what does better mean. PhDs are marked as pass or fail. So, unless someone says your current trajectory means you’ll fail, and the new trajectory means you’ll pass, there’s really no reason to change the scope of your PhD. This also comes down to things like choosing software or choosing analysis packages. Don’t spend forever trying to choose the most awesome piece of word processing. Spend a little bit of time choosing one, and then spend a lot of time getting good at that one.

So, there you have it. Six things that you can do to make your PhD easier.