[2019, January 1st] Review of 2018, after 1 year of PhD

2018 just ended, and 2019 has just begun. It’s time for a short review of this intensive year!

PhD program

I entered the program in September 2017, so when 2018 started, I just spent 6 months in the PhD program. No wonder at this time, almost nothing had been done! Let’s recap what has been accomplished in one year, which corresponds to my 0.5 year to 1.5 year.

PhD dissertation

In January, I just had an idea of the topic I would write about for the PhD dissertation. I knew which language I was going to conduct research on, for which topic, and which experimental methods I would use. But I didn’t really know what it was going to be.

This year, I read a lot of literature about this topic, and most of all, I had a lot of reflections about the shape of the dissertation itself. I had a lot – too many – ideas for this dissertation, and if I had to research each of them, I already know this dissertation would have been a little bit nonsense. From now, the topic is clear, and most importantly, the boundaries of the dissertation are clear. That’s really good I think, it doesn’t mean I gave up on the previous ideas I had, but I know I will have to pursue them later, otherwise the dissertation would not be coherent and deep enough!

Experiments

I’m conducting neurolinguistic experiments for my dissertation. This year, I finalized one of them this summer, and even if the results were clear, they were hard to interprete. It is clear now that other experiments were needed in fact. This is how I designed another one in September and October, revolted the data in November, and analyzed them in December. The day after tomorrow I will present the results to my advisors. The results are really exciting to me, and they help to understand more the results of the previous experiment.

Advisor relationship

This is something I learned about this year. In addition to my main advisor, who is expert in the field of neurolinguistics, I had a co-advisor for the theoretical part. What I learned is how to interact with them. In MA, I clearly had the feeling of professor-student relationship. In a PhD, it’s kind of different. You have to handle by yourself what you’re doing, and it’s even more true when your PhD is a project of yours and not of your advisor. In a way, your advisors see you more as a colleague which whom they can discuss deeper than a student they have to teach. This leads to a totally different relationship. The transition needs time to be done, but I think I’m on the track.

Conference presentations

This year I had the opportunity to present my research in two conferences in Taiwan, one about a theoretical analysis, another one about one of my experiments. It was totally new to me, I was so stressed about it. But I understand now the benefits we can have from the conferences, and I think I’m kind of enjoying it!

What is left for 2019?

2018 has been a whole year of reflection for my dissertation topic and better understanding of what a PhD is. 2019 may be a year of deeper work, now that the basics are done!

Let’s create a temporary list of what would be ideally achieved in 2019:

  1. Finish the literature review of chapters 1 and 2
  2. Write chapters 1 and 2
  3. Conduct at least 2 experiments, ideally 3
  4. Attend conferences (2 to 3)
  5. Learn a new research technique and use it (fMRI)
  6. Start writing a journal article
  7. Pass 2 out of 3 qualification examinations for the PhD program

If all can be done in 2019, I feel I could be on a very good track for my dissertation!

As a featured image, I had the chance to be in front of the presidential office of Taiwan yesterday evening, as they were preparing for the day after. It was so calm, I couldn’t resist to take a picture. Let’s welcome 2019 officially!

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