What is a PhD?

We are launching the PhD section of our blog, that is addressed to PhD students, PhDs, PhD candidates and to all of you who want to know “behind the scenes” details of research work.

Today this is a little vocabulary lesson. I am good friends with Dictionary, Google, Wikipedia. I recommend them. They know EVERYTHING.

Doctor of Philosophy (noun)

  1. Also called doctorate. the highest degree awarded by a graduate school, usually to a person who has completed at least three years of graduate study and a dissertation approved by a board of professors.
  2. a person who has been awarded this degree.

Abbreviation: Ph.D.

Doctor noun \ˈdäk-tər\

  • a person who is skilled in the science of medicine : a person who is trained and licensed to treat sick and injured people
  • the doctor : the place where a doctor works
  • Full Definition of DOCTOR
    • a :  an eminent theologian declared a sound expounder of doctrine by the Roman Catholic Church —called also doctor of the church
    • b :  a learned or authoritative teacher
    • c :  a person who has earned one of the highest academic degrees (as a PhD) conferred by a university

 I am a pharmacist. After my PhD, I will be a Doctor in Medical Sciences. It will be so much harder to explain to my grandmother that I am not a physician too!

After achieving a PhD, you are qualified to work in research.

This means that you proved to have acquired the necessary skills to work independently, to be able to master a research subject, to have research insight and to communicate your results and make them useful to a broader audience. No one asks you to win a Noble during your PhD (even though some dreamers out there believed they will when they enrolled. Feeling guilty? Me too, maybe…;0). The PhD will train you to become a professional in research.

A PhD is a deep education in a discipline (any) after you graduated your bachelor and master studies. You have a supervisor (or two, or more) who initiate and advise you. Still, a PhD is a choice you should take independently and your motivation to do it has to be strong. At first you will learn more about what not to do in research rather than what to do.

In a future post, I will tell you how to become a PhD student in a few, easy steps and what you should ask yourself before taking this decision.

Until then, tell me. Do you want to become a PhD? Why? Are you already a PhD student? Why? (Just try to answer, if you still remember!)

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