Why I am thinking of doing a PhD
The first step in beginning the PhD is to ask why do you want to undertake post-graduate research? What is your motivation? A Ph.D. is not a guarantee of finding a job or a better job! It is a lot of work and requires strong motivation and focus. It is up to you to succeed. Post graduate study is for people who love research, scholarship and teaching for the difference it can make in the world. It is not for people in a hurry to get a job. Many people do the research because they like it and it will make an important contribution to society. The eventual goal of the many students is to continue in research either in the university sector or within industry and government. Remember a PhD does not box you in to a particular field, you can use the skills that you have developed during your PhD in many other sectors of the economy. It is your goal and dream.Think about your motivation and goal for completing a PhD and write it down, possibly in a diary or PhD notebook. This will allow you to revisit it when you need to during your studies.

The second step before starting you PhD is to realise two lessons that Ronald Azuma learnt at the end of his PhD The Ph.D. is the beginning, not the culmination, of your career. Don't worry about making it your magnum opus. Get out sooner, rather than later If you bother to talk to and learn from the people who have already gone through this process, you might graduate earlier The third step is to plan.
How do I find a department and supervisor?
Before you go and start doorknocking you should think about what area would like to specialise. Go to the library and web read books and current journals and conference proceedings. Get an idea of whos doing what where and what are the key fields. Develop a general idea of the research you would like to undertake and write it down. You may be lucky enough to have found that the leader in the field that you are interested in is located in the close by. Typically you may need to travel to a different location and country to work with the leading research team. Do not let that put you off, list different potential supervisors and systematically contact each of them, regardless of location. This will allow you to base your final decision on all the facts, just not location.

Contact members of academic staff at the departments that you have selected from the advertisments found at the Smartscholar website. Send a brief email outlining your interests and attach a short resume and ask enquire about their interests and possibilities of PhD research.

You should also contact the University and get relevant information about the institution, the conditions and general environment. Is it cold in winter, how much are the rents? These might be critical in your decision.

In the end you will want to join a department and supervisor that will
  • serve as a mentor as well as a source of technical assistance
  • allow you to develop into a critical thinker
  • provide support through your research degree
  • be enjoyable to work worth with on research
Each department and university will have its own unique supervision model, do not expect it to be the same. Make sure you clearly understand the supervision model, the departments expectation of you and expectation of the supervisory panel before you agree to go to the department.
How do I apply to department and supervisor?
Each department and university will have its own application process. But below are some pointers to get through the admission process.
  • Get a reference from your professors, lecturers and work managers outlining you research skills
  • Have a broad background in your field and in related fields and good grades.
  • Outline a sound research idea in your application
Funding: Scholarships and research dollars
Most PhD students are usually have a scholarship to cover their living expenses. While it is not impossible to complete a PhD without a scholarship it is very difficult. PhD scholars usually work a minimum of 40 hours a week on their research, but typically this can vary between 50-80 hours week. Also if you may be required to undertake field work and depending on the study it may be one week to two years in often in remote locations. So trying to juggle a thesis and working full time can be very draining. If it is your dream it can be done, but you will need a sound work plan. Even so it is strongly recommended that you start thinking early about sources of funding for a scholarship and for research dollars. Your potential supervisor will be a good source of information for funding sources and scholarships, as well as the research office at any University and Internet. You may also need to direct fund some of your own project.
Links to Other Information
Our Student Links Page Offers a wealth of places where you can find out more information