Throwback Post: 7 Motivational Tips for PhD Students

Another post about motivation, PhD Life? Why, yes, dear reader. The holidays are around the corner, but Summer holidays are so so far away, and Wednesdays are known to be tough. Whether you have started your PhD a few months ago or you are hours away from finishing the full draft, check out Hafsa’s motivational tips…

posted originally on 27.05.2017

Motivation – a single word but with deep-rooted meaning. The motivational stimuli may come from within you or may be associated with an external source. Regardless of what motivated you to perform a PhD initially, the question is how to remain intact for the rest of the course. I will be providing some tips that will be useful for you and me and keep the momentum consistently.

1) Self-belief

Tell yourself that you can do it and will complete to the finish line. The key is to reflect.

a) Reflect on your reasons for doing the PhD and consider how it will impact on your career pathway.

b) Reflect on what went well in your experiment, what went wrong, and how could you solve it? Do not be ashamed if even you cry with frustration. Crying is not a sign of weakness. You are human and each and every one of us express our emotions differently.

2) Eat well

A plant won’t be able to grow unless it has its necessary nutrients. Similarly, we need to eat well and to remain hydrated in order to function and concentrate.

3) Find support

Having family, friends and colleagues support you on this journey helps.

4) Organise yourself

a) Have a diary.

b) If you are doing cell culture work, make a habit of checking your cells every morning.

c) Set realistic goals of what you plan to do each day.

d) It will not only benefit you and me, but also aids in other people in your group to know where you are.

e) Have some time off. In other words, schedule at least one day of your weekend to spend time with your family and/or friends and do your favourite hobbies.

f) If you have a conference paper, presentation or meeting plan your time effectively.

g) Prepare yourself for the supervisory meeting, knowing what you want to discuss and ask.

5) Do your reading

This is an integral part of our PhD where we need to read a lot of papers in our own research fields to setup a foundation and prevents duplicating existing data.

6) Attend Research Student Skills Programme (RSSP) modules

I found these workshops very useful to support me in my personal and professional development.

7) Have extra-curricular activities

Join the Student’s Union where there are a number of societies and activities to get involved in — this is another great opportunity to meet other people, collaborate and connect.

Hope you found these tips useful and keep striving! How do you stay motivated? Share your tips, by tweeting us at @ResearchEx, email us at, or leave a comment below.

by Hafsa Abbas 

2 thoughts on “Throwback Post: 7 Motivational Tips for PhD Students

  1. In whatever you are doing, give it 100%. Don’t go to the after-work drinks because you ‘have-to’; instead go as you’re eager to get to know your colleagues better and want to form stronger relationships.

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