Progress not perfection…I am not an Imposter

Guest blog post from Alli Coyle, PhD student and Administrative Officer.

When Louise, IAD Doctoral Training Manager, asked if I would guest write a few blog posts for the iad4phd WordPress I admittedly went to the one place I have written about my PhD experiences Alli Coyle from Scotland to Malawi.  My own blog features my experiences as a PhD research including of conducting fieldwork in Malawi.

Looking back over my own PhD experiences – I would be lying to say it wasn’t a bumpy ride. Still, I wouldn’t change a bit of it. The experience of doing a PhD is different for every individual and is very personal.

However, there are some commonalities, many PhD candidates (including me) and our supervisors, published academics and the people we often put on a pedestal suffer from Imposter’s Syndrome. It continues to surprise me that it’s not commonly talked about amongst PhD students and academic colleagues.

Imposter Syndrome – is the feeling of not really belonging, that you’ll be found out or don’t deserve to be doing a PhD.

As the PhD can be quite an isolating experience, it is also the case that we (PhD students) don’t often realise that others feel the same way. I recently completed the MOOC How to Survive Your PhD and I was amazed at the discussions around Imposters Syndrome, what it is and how to work through it.

There are three things to remember if you are feeling like an imposter

  1. You are not! Honestly, I know it may seem easy for me to say but You are not
  2. Your colleagues most likely feel the same way!
  3. Talk about it – with friends and colleagues

There is a good summing-up of some of the tips from the MOOC on the Graduate School Reading Room blog (University of Leicester)

The PhD experience is different for everyone. A colleague once said to me “the PhD is about progress not perfection’ – now this is something I remind myself of over and over again (the phrase is stuck on my fridge door).

Miss Alli Coyle

PhD Candidate, African Studies (post-viva)


Administrative Officer (Researcher Development), IAD


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s