Measuring PhD Success

What does PhD success mean? I’ve heard lots of possible ideas over the years:

  • No corrections? Is that the goal?
  • Two or more publications? Is that what you want? Or need?
  • Just getting through?! Is that enough?
  • Feeling proud at the end? (I think that would be nice)

Success has to involve the viva in some way – and passing it of course! So success also has to involve doing the work necessary to get to submission, preparing for the viva and doing well on the day.

PhD success has to include the viva – but PhD success doesn’t mean simply passing the viva. I think given that every PhD journey is unique and personal it follows that PhD success would be too.

PhD success can’t simply be measured in the number of corrections, how many papers you write or how many times your examiners smile during the viva. Every candidate has to set the measure for themselves. Every candidate has to find what their PhD means and what success means.

And, whatever stage you’re at, you have to figure it out for yourself. You may find help in blog posts like this or conversations with friends: at some point you have to decide what you’ll accept as success and then work towards and deal with that.

What does PhD success mean?

Well, what does it mean to YOU?