Lessons I learned doing my Ph.D. — about to reach year 3

Charles Lincon
2 min readMay 3


It’s about to be three years since I started my Ph.D. program. It’s been an incredibly fulfilling journey.

I have learned quite a bit not only in my substantive area but also about writing and researching. I've also learned quite a bit about organizational skills and time management.

Luckily I've been able to make quite a few friends over the journey as well. But I've also gotten to know quite a few other researchers even if I have not developed close friendships and relationships with them. Even just exchanging a few emails has been infinitely helpful both in my research, my writing abilities, and learning what other people are doing. It's an incredible way to get to know other people and to improve your knowledge and improve your research and writing skills.

I use research and writing skills in a sort of broad context. The ability to write and speak are so imperative in terms of being able to communicate with other people. But it also has a basis in the humanities whether you are in a science or rigorous field that would not be related to the humanities ostensibly. But there is this intense interaction between the ability to communicate and the ability to share ideas. There's something not only humanistic but infinitely practical. It's almost as if those two things are not exactly separate. That is to say the more humanistic we are, the better results we achieve.

I don't need to say this in exactly a moralistic perspective. And one of the platonic dialogues titled The Euthyphro, there's a question of whether something is moral because the gods love it or the gods love it because it is moral. Some translations ask whether something is holy because the gods love it or it is holy because the gods love it.

Alternatively the question is is something useful because it is humanistic or is a humanistic because it is useful. I'm not sure the distinction is easy to be made but I think it's worth revisiting that old dialogue by Plat

Here are the useful suggestions I’ve picked up:

  1. manage time
  2. make friends with everyone
  3. be in as close contact with your advisors and professors as possible
  4. read as much of your professor’s publications as possible
  5. read as many publications of your friends as possible
  6. read the footnotes of those articles that you read
  7. focus on improving the simple things such as citations
  8. work on social skills — whether it is getting to know people or reading self-help books
  9. reach out to others in your field
  10. read outside of your program of interest.

These are the ideas I’d like to share now. I hope to expand on these and get more advice based on my Ph.D. journey.

The journey isn’t over yet and the journey — as they say is what matters.



Charles Lincon

Renaissance literature, Shakespeare, Hegelian dialectics, Attic Greek, masters University of Amsterdam.