Research degrees are individual. This is because you will be the only person taking your particular approach to your particular topic and your thesis should therefore make a unique contribution to knowledge. PhDs in the arts and humanities can tend to be somewhat solitary, with the majority of the research –thinking, finding sources, reading, writing–being conducted alone.
But PhDs do not have to be lonely. In addition to developing a good working relationship with your supervisor, you will benefit from making the effort to engage with other postgraduate students and researchers, i.e. being an active member of a research community. This is beneficial for both your general wellbeing and for your research: talking with other people about your work will give you ideas and increase your confidence. Other people will be a valuable source of support when times get tough.
At GSA you will have the chance to regularly meet with other PhD students through the Research Training Programme in your first year. This will also introduce you to national and international research contexts and provide opportunities to network with the GSA research community. By participating in the twice-termly meetings of the Postgraduate Forum, you will also have opportunities for dialogue across GSA. The Research Postgraduate VLE will keeps you informed about seminars and guest lectures. You will also benefit from attending relevant events happening at other institutions in the area, such at the University of Glasgow.
Be part of the wider research community beyond GSA by attending conferences, presenting your research, publishing in academic journals and getting in touch with researchers working in the same field. Social events with other researchers can be just as important – if not more so – than more formal academic events, with many interesting and useful conversations happening at coffee breaks and opening nights.
When you have deadlines approaching or are in the final stages of your thesis there are still ways to avoid becoming isolated. Try writing in a public place such as the library or a café. Take regular breaks to go for a walk, have a coffee with a friend or phone your family.
Academic research and unexpected opportunities happen in conversation with other people. Through ‘networking’ you will gain useful contacts to help your career, but more importantly you will develop professional relationships that enrich your work and generate further possibilities.