Best 6 Ways To Be A Good PhD Student

Being a good doctoral candidate can yield significant rewards and provide enjoyable experiences, although requiring substantial effort. Similar to any endeavour in life, there exist both successful and unsuccessful approaches. We hope that you can use these 6 Ways To Be A Good PhD Student to your advantage.

It is necessary to establish a strong support network that can assist you in acquiring the necessary skills and knowledge to excel as a PhD student. However, it is not universally feasible for individuals to locate such a network, making it crucial to acquire these lessons at an early stage.

To excel as a PhD student, it is crucial to develop a strong work ethic, build effective relationships, cultivate research skills, balance work and life, embrace continuous learning, and listen to your supervisor’s advice.

What Are The Reasons For Pursuing a PhD?

Pursuing a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree can significantly alter the trajectory of your professional journey. It entails a significant commitment of time and resources, both personally and financially. Additionally, it often leads to a shift in one’s chosen career path. Obtaining a PhD may not be the optimal choice for everyone.

However, if pursuing a PhD is indeed a necessity, we must engage in this discussion. Before considering the application process for graduate schools, it is advisable to carefully evaluate whether pursuing this path aligns with your long-term goals and aspirations. Before finalising the decision to get a doctorate, find below a list of specific points to consider:

  • Do You Really Want It?

To successfully obtain a PhD, one must possess a strong desire and commitment. This academic pursuit demands a significant investment of time, dedication, and diligent effort. Unless you possess a genuine desire to complete the program, it is unlikely that you will successfully do so.

  • Have You Considered Alternative Paths?

It is acceptable for individuals to pursue alternative paths after completing their undergraduate degree. It is worth noting that some highly accomplished PhD students have taken a temporary break from academia before commencing their graduate studies. Students who decide to pursue a PhD and subsequently return to academia often exhibit exceptional levels of motivation and achieve notable success.

Read Also: Best 9 Alternative Career Paths For PhD Graduates

Best Ways To Be A Good PhD Student

In order to assist you in becoming a good doctoral candidate, we have compiled these 6 Steps To Be A Good PhD Student. The steps to becoming a good postgraduate student listed below are proven strategies tried by other PhD students including myself. Likely, you may not agree totally with us, but Let us know your suggestions in the comment section. Let’s get started with the topic.

#1. Develop a Strong Work Ethic

Developing a strong work ethic is crucial for any PhD student. Setting clear goals helps you stay focused and motivated throughout your research journey. By breaking down your larger objectives into smaller tasks, you can track your progress and maintain a sense of direction. Managing time effectively is another key aspect. Prioritizing tasks, creating schedules, and avoiding procrastination can help maximize productivity.

Maintaining focus and discipline is equally important. Understanding how you work best and creating an environment conducive to concentration can significantly enhance your efficiency. Taking an active role in your supervision by seeking guidance and feedback allows for continuous improvement. By embracing these principles, you can develop a strong work ethic and succeed as a PhD student.

#2. Build Effective Relationships

Building Effective Relationships plays a crucial role in the success of a PhD student. Collaborating with peers and mentors allows for a supportive and enriching environment where ideas can flourish. Effective communication is essential for sharing knowledge and collaborating effectively with others.

“Coming from a different background (Africa) to live and study in Asia, it was very necessary that I build a strong relationship with my colleagues. This helped me to navigate the cultural and language barriers. It also contributed to my early successes here in Asia” – S. C. Ihenetu.

Seeking feedback and constructive criticism helps to improve research and academic work. Additionally, networking and building professional connections provide opportunities for collaboration and career advancement. By mastering these relationship-building skills, PhD students can create a strong foundation for their academic journey.

#3. Cultivate Good Research Skills

To succeed and become a good PhD student, it is necessary to hone your research skills and improve where necessary. You can achieve this by conducting thorough literature reviews. Look at various databases and libraries to gather relevant and up-to-date information, ensuring a solid foundation for your research. You also need to familiarize yourself with different methodologies and techniques applicable to your field, enabling you to design and execute rigorous experiments or studies.

Another ability you must develop is to critically analyze collected data, identifying meaningful patterns and trends that contribute to the advancement of knowledge. Stay updated on the latest research and developments in your field, allowing you to contribute to ongoing discussions and build upon existing knowledge.  Engage with the academic community by attending conferences and workshops, providing opportunities for networking, learning, and gaining exposure to cutting-edge research. By doing these, you will master the art of research without even knowing.

#4. Balance Work and Life

Finding a healthy work-life balance is crucial for any PhD student. It’s easy to get caught up in the demands of research and studies, but neglecting self-care can lead to burnout. Prioritizing self-care is essential in maintaining mental and physical well-being. Taking breaks and allowing yourself time to relax and recharge is not a luxury, but a necessity.

E.C. Enyoh, a PhD candidate in Japan has this to say, “No matter how busy my schedule in the lab is, I take out time at intervals, say 20 minutes in every two hours to refreshen up and ease pressure” This is one of the ways to be a good PhD student. It ensures that you are energised always to do more.

Remember, it’s important to focus on your own progress and not compare yourself to others. Each student has their own unique path, and it’s essential to stay true to yourself and your goals. By implementing these strategies, you can create a harmonious balance between your academic pursuits and personal life.

#5. Don’t Compare Yourself To Others

One of the most important things to remember as a PhD student is to avoid comparing yourself to your peers. Each person’s journey and progress are unique, and comparing yourself to others can be discouraging and detrimental to your mental well-being. Instead, focus on your own progress and celebrate your achievements, no matter how small they may seem.

Remember that everyone’s research and pace of work is different, and it’s important to stay true to your own goals and aspirations. By maintaining a positive mindset and focusing on your own growth, you will be able to thrive in your PhD journey.

#6. Embrace Continuous Learning

Embracing Continuous Learning is key to being a successful PhD student. Staying updated on the latest research allows you to stay current in your field and build upon existing knowledge. Attending conferences and workshops not only provides opportunities to network and collaborate with peers but also allows you to gain valuable insights and perspectives from experts in your field.

Seek opportunities for professional development, such as taking additional courses or participating in specialized training programs. This can further enhance your skills and expertise. It is also important to listen to your supervisor’s advice and guidance, as they have the experience and expertise to help shape your research. By continuously learning and seeking new knowledge and opportunities, you can make significant contributions to your field and excel as a PhD student.


Being a successful PhD student requires a combination of dedication, discipline, and effective interpersonal skills. By setting clear goals and managing your time effectively, you can ensure that you stay on track and make progress towards your research objectives. Building effective relationships with peers and mentors is crucial for collaboration, communication, and receiving feedback on your work.

Additionally, cultivating research skills such as conducting thorough literature reviews and analyzing data will enhance the quality of your research. Balancing work and life by prioritizing self-care, managing stress, and maintaining a healthy work-life balance is essential for long-term success.

Embracing continuous learning through staying updated on the latest research and seeking opportunities for professional development will keep you at the forefront of your field. Finally, listening to your supervisor’s advice and taking breaks when needed will contribute to your overall success as a PhD student. By following these 6 Ways To Be A Good PhD Student, you can maximize your potential and excel in your doctoral journey.


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