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Saturday, June 29, 2019

What a PhD is and what it is not | Columns - Lusaka Times

Dr. Masauso Chirwa explains, After having completed a PhD degree myself, and having supervised and co-supervised a number of PhD students, I would like to offer some humble advice and pointers to those aspiring to pursue a PhD degree. 
I find that many people misunderstand the purpose of getting a PhD degree and the commitments and sacrifices that it calls for. A PhD is the highest academic and research degree from a university. I have seen both remarkable successes and disappointing failures amongst students pursuing this academic accolade. It takes more than just brain power to complete a PhD.

A degree by research is very different from a degree by coursework. A degree whether at the undergraduate or masters level is heavily structured. Students just have to be disciplined and rigorous in following this predetermined structure regimentally, without much creativity required of them. Of course, creativity is demanded from the student in completing assignments and projects but the demand is nothing close to what is required for a PhD degree be it PhD by coursework or PhD by research only.

The most important prerequisites for pursuing a successful PhD programme are passion, inquisitiveness, creativity, discipline, persistence, perseverance and meticulousness (or attention to detail). I did not mention intelligence not because it is not important, but because it is less important than the other attributes I have mentioned. Others may have different views...

So what does it mean when you have a Dr. before your name? Does it mean that you are an expert on a certain subject matter? Hardly so. It means that you are both a seeker as well as a generator of knowledge. It means that you have enriched the world and added on to the vast body of knowledge through your PhD contribution. The world has become a slightly better place from the knowledge that you have contributed through your PhD thesis, discoveries and publications. Your work get referred and cited by other researchers in your field, as they absorb your new knowledge to generate new discoveries and knowledge of their own.

Source: Lusaka Times