Survive Criticism During your PhD: Criticism is something that every PhD student will face at some point during the course. Here are our tips to help you survive the criticism and thrive.
Presenting your ideas and research to your peers throughout the duration of your PhD is an integral part of the PhD course, but even if you are enthusiastic about doing this, you should be aware that you may not always get the response you desire.
PhD feedback from senior academics
Whilst you are just starting out on your PhD journey, many of the people you are receiving feedback from will be professors with many years of experience in the specific field of study, and as such will have a deeper understanding of all the prior research in the field. So although it can be painful when you have invested so many hours into your PhD work and a senior professor appears to dismiss your ideas or findings, regardless of how their feedback is delivered to you, it is important not to react emotionally.
Don’t be resistant to their comments as there will be a lot you can learn from them and it will benefit you and the success of your PhD course if you open your mind to their feedback. This is all part of the learning process and is necessary for improving the quality and accuracy of your postgraduate research.
Competition amongst PhD peers
It may not be just senior academics in your field that you receive criticism from. This can also come from your peers when you are presenting ideas at conferences for example. Sometimes your area of research can feel very competitive so you need to bear in mind their motivation and take care not to mistake negative comments for worthwhile feedback. If you are provided with constructive criticism, then you should research and learn from this. However be prepared to ignore unhelpful comments and ensure they do not throw you off track.
Turn it into a conversation
If you find you are getting negative comments and you are not entirely sure why, then the most important thing is to speak to people. Ask your PhD supervisor whether they think the critique is worth examining further. Also, don’t be afraid to approach the people responsible and ask them to explain. This will help you discover the motivation behind their criticism and decide how much attention to pay to it.
Criticism During Your PhD: Don’t take it personally
PhD students can prepare for feedback and critique by keeping it clear in their minds that their work is not the same as them. When a comment is made about your research, no matter where the comment comes from or how it is delivered to you, you should be clear in your mind that this is about your work, not about you. Those who thrive during their PhD are those who use comments to widen their understanding of the field and develop their ideas. As soon as you start to believe that it is you that is the problem, this can have an impact on your ability to move forward and continue with the work.
When you come to do your PhD viva (Viva Voce) at the end of the course, you will find that you are grateful for all of the push backs you had from others as these are what made your argument stronger in the long run.
You might also find the following article helpful: How to Build Confidence as a PhD? Top 6 Ways – PhD Career Guide