There is no easy way to explain why would a person, who has spent 11 years at school, 4 years at bachelor's and 3 years doing master's studies, then decide to enter PhD studies, risking yet another 4 years of his life, if not more. Unlike the case with the bachelor's or master's, there does not seem to be any social pressure encouraging to get a PhD. Neither is there much economical motivation, because getting a PhD does not guarantee higher pay. Finally, although the PhD degree is indeed a damn cool thing to have, it is doubtful whether people possessing it enjoy life more than all the rest do.
Nonetheless, PhD is a required attribute of anyone aspiring for the academic career, and is regarded as a qualitatively higher step on the education ladder. So, the question is, what makes this qualitative difference and what issues should one focus on most during the 4 years. Here's my initial guess:
Your doctorate studies did not go in vain, if:
- You can generate a publishable paper in a month, a really good paper in 2-3 months,
- You can write a convincing grant/project proposal and you know when and where to submit it,
- You have realistic but useful ideas for future work and research,
- You know how to supervise/direct/collaborate with others and be actually useful at it,
- You know the most important people in your field, and they know you,
- You are good at lecturing or other kinds of oral presentation,
- You know what to do after you defend.
I'm sure there's something missing, but this list has some aims complicated enough already. Hopefully, this blog will help me with points 3,5,7 of the above agenda as well as keep reminding of the fact that I don't want to loose my 4 years for nothing. It's day 1 today. 1460 days left. Yay!