(8) Hello dear PhDs, how are you?

We hope that our post finds you well. Nobody knows better than yourself what is the best way to advance in your PhD. You are the boss of your life, of your time and the master of your skills. We trust you are making the best of it and hope that the posts to come in April will help and inspire you with new ideas or different approaches to solve your challenges and concerns. Isn’t it more joyful to have a companion on the road, at least for a while?

jk

With a solid experience in academic publishing, Dr. Jimmie Leppink (Maastricht University) will share with you some handy tips and tricks on how to advance in writing and more: “I study and advise on how people can learn new things effectively and efficiently, and how that translates into the design of education. I am getting published as educationalist and as methodologist/statistician (all in all around 40 peer-reviewed publications) and have more than 10 years of teaching experience at university level.”

Together with Researchista, who is passionate about Research and who finished her PhD at Maastricht University – 1.5 years ago, your questions will be answered at the end of every post.  Every Monday, a fresh post is waiting for you! In the meanwhile, take a look at this graph:

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 Source: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/phdpostdoc-bust-why-timing-matters-jimmie-leppink

Many people who have completed a PhD project or have at least spent two years on their PhD project will tell you that they started to worry about not making enough progress and possible consequences thereof sometime during or after the first year of their project. So, I will not be surprised if this sounds familiar to you. However, what does seem to surprise many PhD candidates to some extent – and may surprise you as well – is that the relation between time spent on the project and project output is not as linear as portrayed by supervisors or others. For instance, I phrase I have heard oftentimes goes something like this: “four years four chapters, hence first chapter ready at the end of the first year.” It is important to keep in mind that a lot of time in the first 1-1.5 years is typically spent on orientation, getting used to working with people in the new project and environment, designing and setting things up, additional networking and training, and in many cases a variety of activities more. And one more thing: even if supervisors formulate an expectation of having a first chapter or similar product ready right after Year 1, they do usually realise that things may well take a bit longer.

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Q&A:

PhD Mercedes asks: Can you recommend something about research procedure and writing scientific papers? Short and useful… and good research methodology, especially clinical?

Jimmie answers: I see two related questions in this one: on research methodology, and on writing. As the first one informs the second one, I will start with the question on methodology.

What is a good methodology, depends on what you are studying, what questions you wish to address and, to some extent, what philosophical assumptions you are willing to make. For example, if you are interested in the effects of a new protein diet on blood pressure and cholesterol among a particular type of athletes, one might think of an intervention study where athletes are randomly assigned to either of diet (experimental treatment) or non-diet (control) condition, and you measure blood pressure and cholesterol at a number of carefully planned time points. However, if your topic of study is how burnout is lived and experienced by people in that state, you may well want to take a phenomenological approach, especially if you have good reasons to assume that you cannot acquire any meaningful picture of these experiences through let’s say surveys which comprise large numbers of statements that each require a rating from one (completely disagree) to five (completely agree). The latter approach may be more useful in a health interview survey among visitors of clinical centres in a particular region, perhaps in combination with some interviews or focus groups.

The aforementioned three scenarios can serve as examples of a quantitative, qualitative, and mixed-methods study. Each of these types of studies requires a different way of reporting. What is typically a good strategy, is to ask some colleagues or friends in your field for advice with regard to what journals could be interested in publishing a study like yours. Next step is then to take one or two papers reporting your type of study in those journals. This together with the Author guidelines of the journals under consideration will give you an idea of what journal you may want to target and how to write such that you increase your chances of getting your paper accepted for publication.

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