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Research postgraduates

Expert guidance from Study Advice at the University of Reading

Research postgraduate students face many similar study issues to taught postgraduates and undergraduates, for instance, managing your time, focusing your reading and research, and presenting your work in written, verbal and visual forms. Dealing with these issues at research postgraduate level means developing new strategies to respond to higher academic expectations, more independent study, managing original research, and other changes in personal and academic circumstances.

Although you will be guided by your supervisors, it is important to take ownership of your project, and take a leading role in its direction, as you are the one who will be justifying and explaining the decisions you have made. The ideas-generation and problem-solving processes involved in new research can be exciting, but also frustrating at times. It is natural to go through ups and downs throughout the PhD process, and no research ever goes entirely to plan. Therefore, it is important to seek advice and build a support network for yourself. Although research can seem like a solitary process, you don't have to do it all on your own. Talking about your research with others (including Study Advisers) is valuable, as is having time away from the lab or library to recharge.

The advice in this guide looks at many aspects of the PhD process from managing your time right through to your final viva, and how to keep going along the way. Have a look also at the useful links in the box at the left.