Motivation for Research Students

Recently I led a workshop on motivation for PhD students at the University of Southampton as part of the Faculty of Humanities doctoral research training programme. While developing the workshop content and deciding what to include, I found it interesting and also useful reflecting back on my own motivation when I was a part-time PhD student. I remember it as very challenging – somewhat ironic really given that my thesis focused on motivation in language learning. Of course, the motivation for starting a PhD is not the same as the motivation required to get to the end – it’s important to make this distinction. The effort and persistence needed to keep going when the going gets tough can result in students losing sight of the reasons for embarking on the PhD in the first place. I know it was like that for me.

In the end, my workshop covered the reasons for doing a PhD and the benefits associated with it and we then looked at some of the principles that might be involved in keeping motivated to the end:

  • Managing your time
  • Looking after yourself
  • Knowing when and where you work best
  • Planning and managing tasks (including setting goals)
  • Collaborating with others
  • Engaging with the concept of flow
  • Developing strategies to help you through the tough times
  • Reminding yourself of why you are doing a PhD in the first place

My PowerPoint presentation from the workshop is available on Humbox


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