Table 1

Key principles to PhD study success

The studyThe thesisDefence and the viva
Auditable, clear rationale of purpose, question, aims and methods: contribution to knowledge needs to be unique and show originality.
Well-articulated conceptual/theoretical framework.
Issues of ethics considered for both studying the topic and how the study is undertaken.
Evidence of quality appraisal and reflexivity where appropriate.
Clear development of ideas—the initial proposal is usually not the final study.
Title conveys what the study is about—do not over complicate.
Abstract is well-structured, briefly outlines the issue and methods and key findings; easily conveyed to a non-expert audience.
Structures and flow of chapters
It is clear to the reader what contribution the thesis is making.
Well justified question.
Well articulated methodology and application of methods.
Discussion and conclusion enables the reader to understand how research answered the question/aims and is cognisant of the methodological choices.
No overuse of appendices or footnotes.
Convey passion for subject and methods.
Can articulate what has been undertaken, what and why decisions were made.
Consideration of how, and in what other ways, the subject/area of interest could have been addressed—demonstration of the ability to be self-critical.
Clear articulation of the contributions to knowledge but also awareness of the field and what others are doing.
A considered trajectory of what further research is needed and would add to understanding the problem/issues.
A considered trajectory of publication.