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What are the foundations of a good PhD?
  1. Alison Rodriguez1,
  2. Joanna Smith2,
  3. David Barrett3
  1. 1 School of Health Care, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK
  2. 2 School of Healthcare, Lecturer in Children’s Nursing, Leeds, West Yorkshire, UK
  3. 3 Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Hull, Hull, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Alison Rodriguez, Health Care, University of Leeds School of Healthcare, Leeds, Leeds, UK; a.m.rodriguez{at}

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A PhD is a globally recognised postgraduate degree and typically the highest degree programme awarded by a University, with students usually required to expand the boundaries of knowledge by undertaking original research. The purpose of PhD programmes of study is to nurture, support and facilitate doctoral students to undertake independent research to expected academic and research standards, culminating in a substantial thesis and examined by viva voce. In this paper—the first of two linked Research Made Simple articles—we explore what the foundations of a high-quality PhD are, and how a Doctoral candidate can develop a study which is successful, original and impactful.

Foundations of a ‘good’ PhD study

Supervision and support

Central to the development and completion of a good PhD is the supervisory relationship between the student and supervisor. The supervisor guides the student by directing them to resources and training to ensure continuous learning, provides opportunity to engage with experts in the field, and facilitates the development of critical thinking through questioning and providing constructive criticism.1

The support needs of students will be different, so a flexible yet quality assured approach to PhD research training is required. A good supervisory team (usually …

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