Blog & Resources

Explore interviews, opinion pieces, and other evidence-based resources to help you understand—and surmount—what you're up against in the process of academic peer review, and academia more broadly.

Applying for PhD Funding | Lex Academic Blog

Agnes de Mille choreographed what she recognised as the ‘flamboyant success’ of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma!. But she couldn’t understand why it was so well received. Her choreography was okay, she felt, but certainly not up to the standard of her earlier works, Rodeo and Three Virgins and a Devil. Yet these two pieces had […]

Preparing For a New Academic Year as a Graduate Student | Lex Academic Blog

As a community of veteran academics, we have some thoughts that we’d like to share with you about making the most of the new academic year.

Transforming a PhD Chapter into a Journal Article | Lex Academic Blog

As a newly minted PhD, or student approaching the closing stages of your degree, you will already know what a peer-reviewed article is and why it is important to a scholarly career. A PhD chapter can come to life as an article, but it needs to be prepared a little differently; excised from the body of the thesis and made to live independently.

PhD Milestones | Lex Academic Blog

Starting a PhD is a bit like reaching the Everest Base Camp. If you want to reach that metaphorical summit, trekking across a stage in a Tudor bonnet, you’ll need to pass several milestones of challenges and tests – the equivalent of Everest’s four camps. From registration to progression, submission, the viva, and beyond, each step of your PhD presents its own difficulties and similarly requires acclimatisation.

Getting In and Getting On During Doctoral Study | Lex Academic Blog

Academic heavyweights can lend considerable cachet to a young researcher’s CV, but they typically only offer scant and patchy supervision to their attention-starved students. This is a trade-off about which prospective PhD candidates ought to be mindful. Namedropping a heavyweight or two when listing one’s PhD supervisors may pay dividends down the line, as those name-brand references will no doubt open many doors during a lifetime of academic job applications, but it may be a challenging, lean, and lonely doctoral experience.

PhD Vivas in the UK | Guest Blog by Professor Gary Browning

A PhD is a project that takes a long time, three years and counting, and now it has come to an end. But what is the end? The writing might have stopped, but the examination remains. It looms large as soon as the thesis is completed.

Examining a PhD in the UK: 10 Ways to Lead a Viva

In this blog post, we offer advice to would-be external examiners on how to effectively approach and manage doctoral examinations in the UK setting.

Five Reasons Why Writing Your First Article Need Not Detract from Writing Your Dissertation | Lex Academic Blog

Should you be publishing peer-reviewed articles while in grad school? In the sciences, the response to this question would be a resounding 'yes'. In the humanities and social sciences, however, not everyone does this. Some prefer to start publishing only after defending their thesis.

Passing Your Viva with No Corrections: Towards an Outstanding PhD | Lex Academic Blog

The meaning we associate most immediately with ‘outstanding’ is perhaps that of ‘excellent’ or ‘first-rate’: an outstanding PhD is one that ranks high on some sort of classificatory scheme. But this meaning, I suspect, is derived from its more literal meaning, that of standing out from the crowd. Those PhDs that do this will indeed be the few that make it into the top tier of PhDs that are passed with ‘no corrections’ (cum laude or summa cum laude in other systems such as in Germany or the Netherlands) – but this quantitative feature is only a result of their qualitative merit: a truly outstanding PhD is one that stands out because of its original insight.

How to Prepare for your PhD Viva | Lex Academic Blog

In many parts of the world, a thesis defence retains its sense of theatre. In Sweden, you may be asked to literally nail your thesis to a wooden board. In Germany, once your defence is over, it is possible your supervisor will pull you down the street on a mobile throne. In Finland, you receive a doctoral sword and a hat. The public, performative oral component of such systems endures, though defanged and more or less a part of the ceremony for those who have already proved themselves. In the UK, the opposite is the case.

How Common is Passing with Major Corrections from a PhD? | Lex Academic Blog

In the UK, a study of over 26,000 PhD candidates revealed that only 16% of students were awarded major corrections, while 3.3% of students failed their viva outright. Nevertheless, receiving major corrections presents a much-feared outcome for doctoral candidates. Before we think about how major corrections can be avoided, it is worth looking at them from a different perspective, addressing the fear itself by understanding the mechanism they are part of.

Mastering the Move from PhD to Postdoc/Junior Lecturer: A How-To Guide | Lex Academic Blog

Planning your move from PhD to postdoc can come at a time when you are time-poor, burnt out, and struggling to remember why you ever wanted an academic career. In this post, we enumerate a few things to remember at this time of fraught (but thrilling) transition.

Mastering the Move from Master’s to Doctoral Study: A How-To Guide | Lex Academic Blog

After admission to a PhD program, many students may find themselves struggling to navigate new expectations for study. Once installed firmly at a workspace, what should a new doctoral student do?

From PhD to Monograph: How to Revise Your Thesis for Publication | Lex Academic Blog

Most early career researchers in the arts and humanities are encouraged to see their PhD thesis as a monograph-in-waiting – and with good reason. Here's our how-to guide to revising a thesis for publication and kick-starting an academic career.

Viva, Soutenance, Disputation: How PhD Students around the World Defend Their Thesis | Lex Academic Blog

In the UK, it's called a 'viva'. In the US, it's a 'defense'. Have you ever wondered how PhD students around the world defend their thesis?

How to Avoid Major PhD Corrections | Lex Academic Blog

As a follow-up to our recently published how-to guide to avoiding minor PhD corrections, we thought it would be useful to produce a post on major corrections. Here's some advice on how to avoid them.

How to Avoid Minor PhD Corrections | Lex Academic Blog

Passing your PhD with minor corrections is what most students aim for. But who wouldn't prefer to pass with no corrections? Here are a few tips for avoiding even minor corrections.