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 36: Keeping your life on track: living one spoon at a time

Emma Partlow


Christine Miserandino’s ‘spoon theory’ is a concept usually applied to chronic health conditions. It relies on the concept of spoons as energy units to demonstrate how a person may have a limited amount of energy with which to complete daily tasks. The chapter shows how spoon theory can also apply to doctoral students, as everyone has a set of spoons that may deplete more or less on certain days dependent upon their ‘outside life’. It aims to provide some practical pointers interspersed with the author’s personal accounts of how she has managed to stay on track so far on her doctoral journey. Moving through topics such as imposter syndrome, the need for every student to find their own routine, and the importance of well-being and a circle of support, it concludes with a number of useful lessons for PhD students.

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