Do you ever feel like a fraud?

One of the things that I hear from a lot of PhD students at the beginning of their PhD is that they feel like a fraud, they aren’t sure why they got accepted to the PhD and the don’t know what steps to take in order to make progress with their project.

Well….this is perfectly normal and I wish it was something that I could tell people about before they started.

The reason you feel like a fraud is that you’ve probably come from being near the top of your class to the bottom rung of the research ladder. But thats just the point, its a ladder and you have to start somewhere. You aren’t meant to know all of the answers, otherwise you would be in your supervisor’s shoes. And I’ll let you into a little secret…they don’t know ALL of the answers either, though they probably know a lot of them.

You were accepted to do the PhD because the project is of interest to your area of research, otherwise they wouldn’t have let you start it. And don’t forget that your first year report is when you really get to show what you’re talking about by demonstrating  

•What methodology are you using and why?
•What have you done so far?
•What have you learnt?
•What has worked, what hasn’t worked, and why?
•What will you do next?
 This is also your examiner’s opportunity to let you know if you need to make changes that will help you to get a good enough project and thesis. (And I use the phrase ‘good enough’ here on purpose because you will never feel like what you have done is perfect!)
In terms of knowing what steps to take next – speak to your peers, colleagues and supervisor and if in doubt, look at the IAD website for some ideas.