Undertaking a doctorate at a distance
Undertaking a doctorate at a distance has its own challenges and rewards. Distance learning doctorates are taken in a variety of contexts and can range across all disciplines. Scientists who are remotely based are likely to be working in a commercial facility or undertaking fieldwork, while arts and social science may have even more flexibility.
Training, access to resources and communication with the supervisor are likely to rely on a range of factors including email, web, telephone, post and face to face contact. The exact communication mix will vary depending on a variety of factors and there is no correct model. However to make the most of your doctorate you might want to consider some of the following ideas.
Talk to your supervisory team about how you plan to organise your research and your contact with them at the start of your degree. If things do not work out as expected make sure that you talk about what is not working. Maintain regular contact with your supervisor and research department. A reliable internet connection will be essential. It will keep you in touch and be a constant reminder for you.
Ask what your institution provides for distance learners. Are learning materials, resources, courses or opportunities to network provided online? Are there any materials designed for other distance learning courses (e.g Masters) that might be of use to you.
Make contact with academics and other professionals in your institution other than your supervisor. There may even be a dedicated distance learning service in the library or graduate school.
Try to find ways to access peers and network with other doctoral students in your institution or your discipline.
- Make the most of when you are on site and be proactive. Make sure you plan ahead and make appointments ahead of time.
- Try to make the times you attend the institution co-incide with departmental events or training opportunities. Draw up a programme of activity while you are on site, for example, seeing your supervisory, attending seminars, meeting with a subject librarian and attending training and social events.