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Book Review: Starting your PhD: What you need to know – Helen Kara

Helen Kara’s new book ‘Starting your PhD’ is the book I dreamed of a few years ago when I was wondering where to start with the PhD process. The literature surrounding doctoral study often focuses on the ‘how to’ write a proposal, or plan a study. This is then complemented by an array of texts on ethics, analysis and writing but most leave some of the more pressing questions of the aspiring doctoral researcher unanswered. This is the gap this text fills, and exactly in the way I feel starting researcher need. It takes those exact questions and one by one offers answers to them.

It is an ebook and covers just 41 pages therefore it can be quickly downloaded and read. In fact, I devoured it in a matter of hours and yet its lessons are ones which will stay for years. At less than the price of a cup of coffee, it is also the ultimate bargain. In fact, the coffee analogy doesn’t end there as it is written in such an accessible way that it feels like the author is delivering this sage advice over a casual cuppa. Maybe in future additions, this could be built upon even more by offering a variety of voices through real life examples of how other PhD students and supervisors have also dealt with those issues but then this is one of the beauties of it being an ebook, that I’m sure it will evolve into many more editions and provide essential reading for all those about to start the doctoral journey.

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