PhD student- What Skills and Qualities One Should Acquire?

Doctor of philosophy is a topmost academic degree or more precisely we can say, a kind of honor in any education system. Thus for acquiring a PhD degree, one should learn many skills before becoming a PhD student. 

If you are very disorganized and not studious, trust me, a PhD becomes a bad nightmare for you. You can’t behave like you in graduation or masters. And no one will teach you how to behave in PhD.

Doctor of philosophy is something different than the tradition grading and education system. Once you enroll in it, you realize that everything is different, even though you don’t have to carry a heavy bag still there is a lot of burden on your shoulder.

A burden of work, research paper, filed work and obviously your supervisor.

If you don’t prepare yourself earlier, you got frustrated and hopeless. In the present article, I will share with you what I Learnt during my PhD, as a PhD student and that will help you.

PhD student- What Skills and Qualities One Should Acquire?


If you are disheveled, be regular and organized in your work because as a PhD student you have to save and document each and every data you collected during your reading, research and fieldwork and that is the ‘mantra’ to success in PhD.

If I want to define PhD in one line then I can say,

“You are riding a boat without direction.”

Make a field book in which document all your visits, all your trips and what you collected. In addition to this, construct a daily diary to note down your daily progress in it.

Besides making documentation, it is also very important to save the documents properly and for that make one copy of all your documents in computational formats. 

You can save it on your computer, cloud or other mobile devices so that you can get access easily anytime. Try to save docs in different file formats as well.

Three-dimensional thinking: 

A PhD student should have “out of the box” thinking abilities, as you are in the topmost degree, your thinking and intellectual abilities must be far higher than other students.

You know as I told in every article, PhD is not a cup of tea for all, one must have a unique and broader sense of thinking. and that’s why you need to develop an out of the box thinking abilities and a different prospectives to solve various problems.

Remember, you have to face failures every day during your PhD, henceforth, every time you must have to extract something positive from all experiments or research you do. 

Now what to do to develop an incredibly different thinking sense? the answer is,

Read more, I can say. 

Read what your heroes, scientists of your field done during their PhD period. Meet them, meet your guide, their colleagues and hear their stories. Ask them about their failures and how they had overcome them. Read failure stories and learn how they resolve their problems. 

Just read things, that is all about you have to do as a PhD student. The more you read, the more your thinking abilities build and you can smoothly do your research. And that is why the next skill you should learn is “reading.”

Reading habits:

Books are the best friends, we all know that but no one likes to read. 

“What you read makes you what you are” 

If you dig into the world’s greatest leaders and persons, books were their friends and companion. Reading makes you a different person with different emotions and gives you a different angle to see things differently. 

And bingo! That’s what you required as a PhD student. 

Approximately, 2000 literature, PhD students have to read during the entire tenure of his or her work. But besides this, as a doctoral fellow, you should read other inspirational books too to be self-confident and to be more positive.

You have to be updated every day what is going on in your field, which scientist is doing what type of research and what innovative research is ongoing. Each and everything you have to read.  

Journals, research papers, reviews, books, and stories must be read every day by a doctoral fellow. But that doesn’t mean you have to work and read day and night. Design your daily routine which includes at least 2 to3 hours reading.

And that’s the next skillset you need- zero-date planning.

Zero-date planning: 

On a blackboard or wall, write date and year at when you wish to complete your PhD. Even if you know that it can not be achievable, just plan it. 

This will inspire you to do your work-time to time. Do zero-date planning for all your works and targets. Planning and plotting must require in PhD, you know because we are floating in a pond, whose shore is unknown to us, planning things properly. For example; 

In a week, do lab work for two days, do literature review and reading for two days and field trips for two days. Isn’t it easy? 


If you getting bored with reading, plan half-day for reading and literature review and half-day for lab work. But planning is must require. Hafehazard working and reading will not take you anywhere and in the end, you will get nothing. 

Trust me because of not planning their works and just walking here and there; many of my PhD colleagues are now left a degree in between.   

Importance of writing for a PhD student.


Besides reading, another mandatory skill must require for persuing PhD is “writing”. Good writing makes your PhD thesis stand above all, even if you find less during your research work, how you present it in your thesis makes a difference for you. 

You have to learn skills to write precisely, accurately and attractively. If you are planning to go for a PhD, evaluate your English language skills, if your English is not powerful enough, trust me you will face problems. Because except PhD in language, English is mandatory in all fields.

Here is a good news!

If your English skills aren’t good enough, don’t worry. An online platform, ‘Grammarly’ will help you to learn things properly.

You just need to add an extension to your chrome browser and then, Grammarly will take care of all your writing. It will notify and autocorrect all your English errors. We have covered an amazing article on Grammarly. Read it here: Grammarly: Your PhD writing assistant.


Doing a PhD or doctoral is not as easy as completing the masters or bachelors because no fixed time duration is allowed for that. One has to work until and unless he/she has done their job or research work. 

Therefore continuous self-inspiration must be required each year. Being a PhD student you have to work with enthusiasm every day, without losing hope or getting discouraged. 

Positive attitude: 

Yet another important characteristic one should grow as a PhD student is a positive attitude. From the first day of your PhD, you have to be hopeful and positive with your works. You have to develop that attitude to complete your work in any situation, and trust me this attitude helps you to complete your doctoral faster. 

Whatever the situations, ups or downs, positives or negatives, complete your work every day with a positive attitude, tell yourself, “It’s ok to fail, it happens- not all days are same.” 

Just complete your daily routine, keep a small smile on your face and go to your family. Positive attitude and energy really help you to achieve your highest academic respect.

And as I said in the above section, it’s a kind of out of the box thinking.

A PhD student should have to develop positive attitude.

Besides doing your own research and study work, you should read the inspirational lives of others. Get inspired by other scientists’ life and rejuvenate every day your soul to do your work. 


Besides all these skills as a PhD student, you have to develop a different attitude, the attitude of responsibilities. You have to be responsible, leader, polite, honest and respectful person to achieve a PhD degree. 

Change is everything, you are a PhD fellow because you choose a different direction than your friends. PhD isn’t a degree only, it’s self-development, it makes you a different person. after completing your PhD, you will find a better version of you.

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