We have spoken often about how many PhD students and even senior academics at our local universities fail to complete their doctorates or took an immensely long time to complete them. Well, according to Flinders University staff development and training unit head Hugh Kearns and his colleague Maria Gardiner, distractions and procrastination are just two reasons students struggle to complete their PhDs on time.
The underlying reason, it appears, which causes "distractions and procrastination" are due to students' "battle with perfectionism, over-commit[ment], self-sabotage and ...motivation and focus while writing a PhD... Those negative feelings lead to procrastination and other feelings."
Ms Gardiner said negative feelings often led to delays in the completion of PhDs, wasted time, missed deadlines and people abandoning their work. But she said the problem did not lie in students not being intelligent enough to complete their work.So what are the 7 secrets?
"It's not about people who are stuck and miserable who are not able to finish their PhD, it's about achieving elite results and coming up with good results in the end."
The seven secrets - revealed in detail in the books - are maintaining a close relationship with a supervisor, writing, showing work and meeting short-term deadlines, being realistic on the quality of the PhD, saying no to distractions, keeping office hours, seeking help when needed and confidence that "you can do it".Sounds like nothing too special, but here's the rub. What it apparently means to a PhD candidate, Tim Moore was this:
...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."And to sum it up, the author of 7 Secrets of Doctoral Success, Mr Kearns said:
"To undertake a PhD you need 10 per cent intelligence and 90 per cent persistence."Woh woh woh. There you have it. Hence the reason why some of our senior academics can't seem to complete their PhDs has got to do with they inspirational quest for perfectionism. And Kian Ming, you don't have to be that smart after all! :)
To quote Eric Beerkens, whose blog referred me to the above article:
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.Oh, and maybe that's the way to achieve 100,000 PhD students in 15 years as stated in the Zahid Higher Education report, and debated by Kian Ming. :)