How to choose a PhD?

Five tips on picking your path to a PhD

Deciding to embark on a PhD is a big decision – and one of the biggest choices is who you want to work under. So what are the most important things to consider when searching for your perfect post?

Royal Society of Chemistry spoke with three experts, each with a different perspective on the PhD experience. Thomas Bennett leads the hybrid materials group at the University of Cambridge, UK; Jessica Clavadetscher has recently completed a PhD in medicinal chemistry at the University of Edinburgh, UK, and Mark Bennett is head of content at Here’s what they said.

Find a topic you love

With most PhD programmes taking at least three years to complete, it is vital you are interested in your research topic.

Your supervisor is key

Find a supervisor and a team that suits how you like to work as well as your research interest.  Look up your potential supervisor’s staff page to see if they have supervised many students before. If you’re able, ask current PhD students what their relationship with the academic is like. Another handy tip is to look at thesis acknowledgments – they can often provide clues as to key character traits.

Use your interview as a way to get to know your supervisor better. Ask about the availability of their time.

Think about your colleagues

The group of colleagues you will be joining in the next years of research is almost as important. Try looking for answers to questions like: are they motivated? Can you rely on their support or will they be your competitors? Do you have other things in common, apart from scientific activity?

Ask the right questions

While it may not be the reason you decide to do a PhD, it is important to be aware of how well equipped you will be during your studies. Does your funding include money for travel and equipment, on top of covering tuition fees and the national stipend? Collaborations or access to expertise, other than your supervisor, are also a consideration.

Like the location

From campus to city universities, every institution has a different style. You might prefer to live in a big town or be nearer the countryside. Make the most of your interview to get to know the area – it’s a place you could end up living for a while.

Read the full article here.