managing the PhD – keeping a journal

The PhD is often stressful and trying. Nevertheless, most people do get through it. Many PhDers keep a journal to help work through the difficulties, challenges and worries that they experience. 

Writing about the everyday can of course just be a wallow. A self indulgent moan that goes nowhere. However, verbalising concerns and putting them in writing can not only be cathartic but also lead to very helpful insights. Journaling can be a powerful way to both reflect on problems and resolve them.

4980421657_5278242c15_b.jpg

Some people choose to make their journals public via a blog. Others keep them, analog style, in a notebook. And there is a cumulative running document on the desktop, with each entry dated so that ‘change’ can be tracked over time.

If you’re thinking of starting off a PhD journal, or you’re just a bit stuck on what to write about in a reflective journal, here’s a little listicle of prompts that might kick off a (new) line of thinking.

  • Strategies that help me cope
  • How stress affects my ability to get things done
  • Something I’ve learnt from failing
  • What I do when I feel inadequate
  • Challenges that I have overcome
  • Things that worry me about the PhD
  • Am I too competitive?
  • The best advice I’ve been given about the PhD was…
  • I can best organise my time by…
  • I am really motivated to/by…
  • I need to work with my supervisors/advisers on…
  • I am good at…
  • I have learnt since starting the PhD that…
  • The last time I did something difficult… 
  • I deal with negative thoughts best when…
  • Things that I have in common with other PhDers
  • How I manage ‘the university’
  • The key thing I have to remember is…
  • The feedback that most helps me is…
  • The PhD goals I’ve already reached are…
  • Dealing with things I can’t immediately change means I need to…
  • People who support me are usually …
  • Am I too hard on myself?
  • Risks I will and won’t take
  • Academics I admire generally…
  • I am really looking forward to…
  • When and where I work best
  • The book that has most stuck with me is…
  • My favorite part of the PhD is… 
  • Ethical issues I need to keep in mind are…

About pat thomson

Pat Thomson is Professor of Education in the School of Education, The University of Nottingham, UK
This entry was posted in journal, journaling, PhD, reflection, reflection on learning, starting the PhD, Uncategorized and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to managing the PhD – keeping a journal

  1. Kay says:

    Reblogged this on Everyday Issues and commented:
    Food for thought…

    Like

  2. Pingback: Research update #15 – Pat Thomson’s tips of journalling your PhD | Screenface

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s