During your doctorate: the middle phase

By now you will have settled in to your research and institution, mastered the techniques required to carry it out and formed a social network. There is some time left yet before you start racing through the final research stage and focus on pulling your research into a comprehensive thesis. This can easily be a time when you don’t notice how quickly time is going. Here are some tips on how to successfully and productively use this time.

Important competencies

Try to remember to keep on top of things by:

Staying positive

Many doctoral students experience a slump at this stage as you are now beyond the ‘high’ of starting a doctorate and the enthusiasm of taking forward your beloved research project but still some way away from finishing it. Read about strategies to cope with it.

You might want to read about handling common challenges for doctoral researchers and consider sharing your experience with other doctoral students.

Help and support

There may be times when you need to discuss concerns with someone other than your supervisor. Our help and support for doctoral researchers suggests where to find support.

Developing as a researcher

A doctorate is training opportunity and you should see it as a time to develop your competencies as well as your research project. The Vitae Researcher Development Framework is a resource designed by researchers for researchers to help you identify your development needs and to address them.

Personal and professional development should ideally relate to your longer-term career aspirations. Pursuing development opportunities can be useful both as a way of thinking through what you want to do long term and as a way of developing and evidencing the competencies that you will need to move on. One of the following approaches may be appropriate for you:

Building networks

Effective networking will maximise your opportunities to share knowledge, ideas and opinions and raise your profile as a researcher.  It will benefit your current research and may open doors for future career opportunities. A range of Vitae networks are available.

Networking and personal development could both be addressed by attending courses and events, with some specifically targeted at doctoral researchers.

Considering the next career step

The end of your doctorate may seem a long way off at this stage, but it is never too early to consider your next career move . You may find useful the resources and information on: