Institute for Academic Development
Institute for Academic Development

Mid-stage PhD

The main research phase of your PhD is the time to perfect your project management skills and start writing and presenting for the academic community.

Typical milestones

These are the sorts of actions you will need to consider taking during the main research phase of your PhD.

Progressing your research:

  • meetings with supervisor(s), make sure that your approach to meetings is working
  • assess research results achieved and what realistically still needs doing
  • keep writing chapters, reports, etc

Develop your research profile:

  • present your research at a conference or seminar, get feedback
  • interact with other researchers in your field

Improve your skills:

  • revisit your skills audit to identify gaps and consider how to fill these
  • look for continued training and development opportunities
  • meet with a careers advisor to talk about your career plans
  • start researching academic and non-academic job markets

Managing your time:

  • ensure you don’t let the PhD take over your whole life
  • find a balance, and find time for other activities.

Remember to add your own additional actions that relate to your own personal circumstances and project.

Support from your supervisor and School

Keeping on track during your research can be challenging. It is important to take time to reflect on your progress regularly and discuss any concerns or issues you have with your supervisor.

If you are having any problems with your project or your relationship with your supervisor it is important to seek help and advice quickly. The first point of contact for issues which you feel you can’t discuss with your supervisor is usually your second supervisor, your PhD Advisor or the School.

Remember that your peers, and in particular fellow PhD students who are further on in their research, are a great source of advice and support. Take the time to learn from each other.

The Students’ Union Advice Place is also an excellent resource for students. They can provide independent advice to University of Edinburgh students on a range of matters, including academic advice, health and wellbeing, money issues, and much more.

Support from the Institute for Academic Development

Training courses

To help you in the main research stages of your research programme, we recommend attending some of the following courses we offer:

Doing a skills audit to help plan your development

Doing an audit (i.e. an assessment) of your skills now is useful; if you can identify what skills are important to your research success, and whether you are strong or weak in these areas. You can then focus your precious time on developing the areas that will help you most.

We offer a simple skills guide and skills audit template, to help you with planning your development.