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Thursday, November 15, 2018

Embarking on a PhD: failure is inevitable in the face of progress | Student - Times Higher Education

Blogger Olly Bowling, is doing his PhD at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh felt the fear of failure before starting his PhD but some wise words from literature helped to assuage those feelings.

Photo: iStock

As a person just beginning a PhD, there are many feelings floating around about my upcoming three (plus) years. Least of all is the fear of failure; that incessant thought that casts doubt on your abilities. Recently, I discovered a quote by the writer Samuel Beckett: “[E]ver tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.

Despite the fact that this quote is from a typically bleak writer, it is comforting to hear someone so well respected express that failure is not only inevitable but entwined with any form of progression.

This has brought me some comfort in starting my PhD. I know that the academic world can be intimidating, filled with words that we don’t fully understand, and well-read academics who throw them around. However, now that I have started, I’ve become more at peace with the fact that I am new to this world. The knowledge will come with time and lots of hard work. I’ll do things wrong. I’ll write terrible first drafts that I’m sure I’ll look at in a few years and cringe. There’s a sense of comfort in accepting that I will fail but that I have to keep going if I want to improve...

Time away from research is necessary, and I found this to be a really important part of doing my master’s; having a routine of when to work and when not to work helped balance my life so I could still fit in seeing friends or playing sport and doing the other things that I enjoy doing in my spare time.
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Third of top US professors got PhD at five universities by Simon Baker, data editor. 
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Source: Times Higher Education