How to write your PhD in 15 minutes a day by Jean Bolker. Invaluable.
I've seen a lot of people recommend Authoring a PhD by Dunleavy as well.
On this note, the reviews on Amazon seem to indicate this (Dunleavy's) is a good book for arts/social sciences - I'm in natural/medical sciences so is Phillips' general enough to be applicable to me? I've also been looking at "The Unwritten Rules of PhD Research" by Rugg and Pat Cryer's "The Research Student's Guide to Success" -
The best general phd study book I have read is "How to get a PhD" by Phillips and Pugh. It is very readable with shed-loads of advice incuding a very notable section on 'how not to get a phd'. 'Hope this helps.
5 books to help you with your PhD
1. The craft of Research by Wayne Booth, Greg Colomb and Joseph Williams.
I wish I owned the copyright to this one because I am sure they sell a shed load every year. Although it seems to be written for undergraduates, PhD students like it for its straight forward, unfussy style. Just about every aspect of research is covered: from considering your audience to planning and writing a paper (or thesis). The section on asking research questions is an excellent walk through of epistemology: an area many people find conceptually difficult. I find it speaks to both science and non science people, but, like all books I have encountered in the ‘self help’ PhD genre, The Craft of Research does have a bias towards ‘traditional’ forms of research practice. You creative researcher types might like to buy it anyway, if only to help you know what you are departing from.
2. How to write a better thesis by Paul Gruba and David Evans
This was the first book I ever bought on the subject, which probably accounts for my fondness for it. I have recommended it to countless students over the 6 or so years I have been Thesis Whispering, many of whom write to thank me. The appealing thing about this book is that it doesn’t try to do too much. It sticks to the mechanics of writing a basic introduction> literature review> methods> results> conclusion style thesis, but I used it to write a project based creative research thesis when I did my masters and found the advice was still valid. Oh – and the price point is not bad either. If you can only afford one book on the list I would get this one.
3. Helping Doctoral Students to write by Barbara Kamler and Pat Thomson
I won an award for my thesis and this book is why. In Helping doctoral students to write Kamler and Thomson explain the concept of ‘scholarly grammar’, providing plenty of before and after examples which even the grammar disabled like myself can understand. I constantly recommend this book to students, but I find that one has to be at a certain stage in the PhD process to really hear what it has to say. I’m not sure why this is, but if you have been getting frustratingly vague feedback from your supervisors – who are unhappy but can’t quite tell you why – you probably need to read this book. It is written for social science students, so scientists might be put off by the style – but please don’t let that stop you from giving it a go. Physicists and engineers have told me they loved the book too. If you want a bit more of the conceptual basis behind the book, read this earlier post on why a thesis is a bit like an avatar.
4. The unwritten rules of PhD research by Marian Petre and Gordon Rugg
I love this book because it recognises the social complexities of doing a PhD, without ever becoming maudlin. Indeed it’s genuinely funny in parts, which makes it a pleasure to read. The authors are at their best when explaining how academia works, such as the concept of ‘sharks in the water’ (the feeding frenzy sometimes witnessed in presentations when students make a mistake and are jumped on by senior academics) and the typology of supervisors. It’s also one of the better references I have found on writing conference papers.
5. 265 trouble shooting strategies for writing non fiction Barbara Fine Clouse
This book is great because it doesn’t try to teach you how to write – you already know how to do that. What you need more is something to help you tweak your writing and improve it. This book is basically a big list of strategies you might like to try when you are stuck, or bored with the way you are writing. This book is so useful I have literally loved it to death – the spine is hopelessly broken and pages are held in by sticky tape. There are many wonderful tips in here from ‘free writing’ and ‘write it backwards’ ideas, to diagramming methods and analytical tools. Opening it at almost any page will give you an idea of something new to try.
What books would be on your top 5 list and why?
How to finish your PhDMatt Schonlau's Great Tips - the most detailed, honest and useful advice you can ever find on how to finish your PhD, written by Matt Schonlau; he provides you with a concise but thorough insight into all major aspects of doing and finishing your PhD. What you have to keep in mind doing a PhD: how to focus on your goals for a longer time, how to plan your life in accordance with your research and how not to lose track in order to finish your PhD within a reasonable timeframe. (2003) Start with this one!
The Unwritten Rules of PhD Research (Study Skills)
This book covers all the aspects you wish someone had told you before you started your PhD and provides you with useful tips on how to come through your PhD with a happy ending; written by Gordon Rugg and Marian Petre; Paperback: 240 pages, Publisher: Open University Press (2004)
Doing a PhD in the Social Sciences: Myths, Tips and Strategies - some great tips on how to do a PhD, written by Dr Kevin Morrell, Senior Lecturer in Human Resource Management & Organisational Behaviour. (2009)
Mastering Your Ph.D.: Countdown to Your Thesis Defence - Mastering Your Ph.D.: Countdown to Your Thesis Defence; a concise article on how to finish graduate school; by Bart Noordam, Patricia Gosling, Authors of Mastering Your PhD: Survival and Success in the Doctoral Years and Beyond (2007)
So long, and thanks for the PhD! - "Everything I wanted to know about C.S. graduate school at the beginning but didn't learn until later"; a somewhat lengthy but definitely useful and informative personal story told by Ronald T. Azuma, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (2003). Take your time and read this one, too!
Writing Tips for PhD studentsWriting Tips for PhD Students (PDF) - if you are a PhD student, you can't miss this paper! It provides you with some of the best writing tips for PhD students available online, written by John H. Cochrane, University of Chicago (2005)
Ph.D. Thesis Research: Where do I Start? (PDF) - Ph.D. Thesis Research: Where do I Start? Great advice from finding the right research topic to research strategies and writing your thesis; by Don Davis, Columbia University (2001)
General tips for starting, doing and finishing a PhDWhat They Don't Teach You in Graduate School - a well-written article with useful PhD tips (offering rules for finishing up that dissertation and finding a first job); by David E. Drew and Paul Gray, Professors of education and information science at Claremont Graduate University (2005)
Observations of a PhD student - a thorough collection of a PhD student's personal experience by Steven Halim, National University of Singapore (2008)
Useful tips from Holland - some general information and basic tips for PhD students, written by PhD students from the Utrecht University, Holland, containing questions they have asked themselves during their research, questions about how to get it started and how to get it finished, questions that they have never dared to ask...
Tips from an Ex-Grad Student (who actually finished his PhD) - Check out the best PhD Tips ever by Alex @ The PhD Tips Blog on Blogspot
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This text features a clear, understandable six-step method for streamlining the literature review process! Written in user-friendly language, this resource offers master's and doctoral level students in education and the social sciences a road map to developing and writing an effective literature review for a research project, thesis, or dissertation. Organized around a comprehensive and detailed six-step developmental model, the book provides guided exercises, graphics, charts, and examples from the everyday experiences of practitioners. Both novice and experienced researchers will find invaluable assistance for: selecting a topic; searching the literature; developing arguments; surveying the literature; critiquing the literature; and, writing the literature review.
The Literature Review: Six Steps to Success (Paperback)