8 traits that will make you go through difficult times in your PhD thesis

Earning a PhD in Economics can be challenging and challenging. Here we look at some of the personality traits that will help you keep moving forward when you get stuck.

1. creative thinking

When things go wrong during your PhD program – that they certainly will! – Then you need to find creative solutions.

If your initial analysis didn’t find meaningful results for your primary question, did it reveal other interesting insights? If your trial doesn’t work, can you salvage the data or design a better one? You may not have been able to find the data you were hoping for – will finding a suitable instrument variable help fill the gap?

The research process is really a learning process, and if your research is new, it probably generated new knowledge. Even discovering “no relationship” can be interesting.

2. Adaptability

As a PhD candidate, you are expert in some areas but lack expertise in others. In order to deal with challenges, you will need to adapt and learn new skills. A lifelong learning approach is a good advantage for PhD students.

So, don’t tell yourself that you’re “not good with numbers” or “I’m not a good writer” — instead, you’ll benefit from accepting that you will sometimes need to learn new skills or spend more time on certain aspects of your research. Asking for help from your colleagues may be a good way to get started, thus at the same time establishing connections that will help you support each other through the challenging PhD process.

3. Openness

As with adaptability, it is important to be open to new ideas. Don’t get too involved in one idea, method, or approach to your work. It is best to consider different approaches when you are in trouble. For example, your experimental methodology may not have worked, but there may be a different methodology you can use instead.

Lessons from other social sciences, both theoretically and methodologically, can be useful here. Especially if you know peers who work in other disciplines, it can be very helpful to chat with them about your research interests.

4. Ability to accept criticism

It’s hard to hear criticism — especially when you’re tired, anxious, or stressed. But when you have a problem, you really need to listen to the criticisms of your supervisor or colleagues. They have a wealth of information and ideas to offer you, and your project can benefit greatly from them.

If you find this difficult, try taking notes and don’t respond to them right away. Take a day to think about it before you respond, and you’ll find it easier to accept the right criticism.

5. Existence (and use of) a support network

You cannot pursue a PhD on your own, and you will need a team that can help you when the going gets tough. Your fellow PhD candidates, other people in your department, people you meet at conferences and events, family, and friends may be called upon for help. Don’t be afraid to ask for support when you need it – whether that support is advice, technical help, proofreading, or just hanging out with you socially to take your mind off things.

6. Perseverance and determination

You will almost certainly encounter some hurdles in your Ph.D., such as your paper being rejected from a journal, an experience that didn’t work out as planned, or the unavailability of the resources you were relying on for your project.

In these times, you need to be able to keep going and not give up. If you’re really struggling with something, it’s okay to take a few days off to think about it. Continue to fend off your problems and seek help when you need it, and you’ll likely find a way around it eventually.

7. Stress management

Everyone with a PhD feels overwhelmed by stress at times. It’s normal to feel that way sometimes, but it would be very hard to feel stressed all the time.

In order to keep your stress levels under control, you must find a way to de-stress that works for you. Some people like to exercise or play a team sport, while others like meditation or relaxation techniques. Some people just love to read or spend time with friends. Find something that works for you and make time for stress management each week. This will make you better able to deal with problems as they arise.

8. Flexibility

All of these qualities come together to help you become more resilient – that is, able to handle difficult situations and not give up when faced with problems. Psychological resilience is a very important trait for a PhD student, and one that many graduates recognize too late as a trait they developed during their PhD period. In a Ph.D. as in the rest of your life, dealing with stress and adversity will be essential to success.

Studies have found that positive emotions are key to coping with negative experiences, so one of the best ways you can build your resilience is to take an occasional vacation in which you indulge in fun activities. It may seem trivial but it will help you in the long run.

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