The purpose of this paper is to give insight on the important preparation task needed to be considered by prospective PhD candidates prior to the start of their study. As pursuing and obtaining a higher degree qualification is becoming more eminent for those who want to advance their academic career, crucial preparation is needed before embarking on the doctoral quest.
A small-scale study of the PhD experience was carried out in a public university in Malaysia using semi-structured in-depth interviews with eight successful doctoral students representing three different faculties to assess respondents’ experiences concerning the preparation aspect, challenges faced and strategies used to overcome the problem.
From the interview data, three overarching themes emerged: motives, task and financial and health as important dominators that could influence a successful venture of a PhD journey.
As the present research respondents were few, further research with bigger number of respondents may shed better light in identifying other important aspect in preparation for PhD. The authors are unable, in the space of this paper, to fully explore the implications of the data, and the work of others that it builds on, for the future of professional doctorates or other types of PhD awards. As professional doctorates are fully concentrated on their professional endeavour, i.e. nursing and education, the preparation needed may include different groundwork. In addition, this study was carried out in Malaysia, where the system may not necessarily share the same characteristics to other doctoral systems in other countries. Cultural differences, the impact of age, gender and race, were other variables that could be weighed by future research in the same area.
The university’s graduate office should line-up courses to inform future doctoral candidates on the aspect of preparation at personal level that the students need to carry out.
The study provides new views where potential doctoral students should be helped and guided to become more consciously aware of their decision in pursuing a higher degree. This paper provides suggestions on the guidelines of the initial preparation needed before embarking on a PhD journey and managing their own learning.
The paper establishes the important aspect of the preparation phase needed to be considered by future doctoral students before pursuing their doctoral quest.
The authors would like to thank all participants who contributed to this research. This paper was funded under NDUM Short Term Grant (UPNM/2017/GPJP/SSI/1) which is gratefully acknowledged.
Syed Mohamed, A., Amir, A., Ab. Rahman, N., Abd Rahman, E. and Abdul Nasir, A. (2020), "Preparing for PhD: exploring doctoral students’ preparation strategy", Studies in Graduate and Postdoctoral Education, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print. https://doi.org/10.1108/SGPE-03-2019-0038Download as .RIS
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