How to Keep your Doctorate on Track
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How to Keep your Doctorate on Track

Insights from Students’ and Supervisors’ Experiences

Edited by Keith Townsend, Mark N.K. Saunders, Rebecca Loudoun and Emily A. Morrison

The path of a doctoral student can feel challenging and isolating. This guide provides doctoral students with key ideas and support to kick-start a doctoral journey, inspire progress and complete their thesis or dissertation. Featuring observations from experienced supervisors, as well as the reflections of current and recent postgraduate researchers, this intimate and entertaining book offers vital insights into the critical moments in any doctoral experience.
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Chapter 39: Finders, keepers, losers, weepers! A doctoral candidate’s reality of changing thesis advisors

Polly Watson Black


Whereas some students pursue their doctoral studies full time, others study part time, often alongside a full-time job or career. As well as needing a university that can support part-time study, part-time students may require distance learning options. In this context, the chapter recounts the author’s experiences of studying part time for her Ph.D., specifically the saga of finding and keeping a good director of studies. It begins with her initial search, which included finding a second advisor. Next, she describes losing the director of studies and the struggles involved in deciding whether to follow him to a new university or to stay put. Having chosen to stay, and to find a new director of studies, the author experienced a second loss, but she was able to adapt to the changes involved. The chapter concludes with lessons on finding a director of studies and coping with transitions where these occur.

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