As a PhD student today there are many conflicting pressures on my time. First and foremost, I have to conduct my own independent research. To most people this is the definition of a PhD it is a 3-4 year training exercise in which you learn how to “do” research. However, it can be so much more than that. There is a big drive in today’s research to be increasingly interdisciplinary. This means that as a PhD student not only do you have to know your own topic inside out but you have to understand where it fits in with the research landscape and how you could work across disciplines to achieve a greater goal. Todays PhD student also has to be able to effectively communicate their work to a large number of different audiences. Academic conferences are the traditional forum for discussion of research topics. Yet, today there is an increasing need to be able to communicate your work much more widely than that – to the local community, key stakeholders, industry partners, schools and the press to name but a few. With all these different pressures on my time, what could I do but add another one.
I decided to start this blog, not to punish myself further by adding another demand on my time, but to provide an outlet for my thoughts on life as a PhD student, to share my opinions on scientific topics of interest and most importantly to write. Writing is hard. However, the more you write the easier it becomes. So, by writing here I hope to improve my writing and develop my communication skills.
My PhD is in agriculture, but my work spans across the fields of ecology, statistics and soil science as well. As these are my main areas of interest this is where the bulk of the science I discuss will be drawn from but my interests lie far and wide across the sciences (well maybe excluding physics!). I also hope to discuss the trials and tribulations of doing a PhD. I am now over half-way through my studies and there have been some ups and downs along the way. Luckily for me it has been mostly ups but as I enter the final 18 months and the thesis deadline looms ever closer I think there may be some more trying times to come.
So if you are a fellow student, researcher, academic or just interested to learn a bit more about science I would love it if you would join me for this journey.
Next time: my project – what is my PhD all about?
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