How to Write a PhD in Biological Sciences : A Guide for the Uninitiated book cover
1st Edition

How to Write a PhD in Biological Sciences
A Guide for the Uninitiated

ISBN 9781032080208
Published November 30, 2021 by CRC Press
294 Pages 31 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

You don’t have to be a genius to write a PhD. Of course, it will always involve a lot of hard work and dedication, but the process of writing is a whole lot easier if you understand the basic ground rules.

This book is a guide through the dos and don’ts of writing a PhD. It will be your companion from the point when you decide to do a PhD, providing practical guidance to getting started, all the way through the nuts and bolts of the writing and editing process. It will also help you to get - and stay - in the right mental framework and establish good habits from the beginning, putting you in a commanding position later on. Examples are tailored to the biological sciences, offering a unique reference for PhD students in these disciplines.

Embarking on a PhD doesn’t need to be daunting, even if it’s your first experience working within academia. Each short section focuses on writing - considered by many to be the most difficult aspect of a PhD - and delves into a practical detail of one aspect, from the title to the supplementary material. Whether you’re a student just starting your studies, an early career researcher or a supervisor struggling to cope, the book provides the insider information you need to get ahead.

Table of Contents


1 Introduction

2 So you are doing a PhD?

3 Reconciling yourself to doing things you’ve been avoiding

4 Communicating by email

5 The scientific project and scientific living

6 Keeping track of your mental health


7 How to get started with writing

8 How to write a hypothesis

9 Being aware that you can get it wrong

10 What happens if you don’t have a hypothesis?

11 What’s the big idea?

12 Writing a paragraph

13 Construct a logical argument in your writing

14 Storytelling in science?

15 Why do you need to cite?

16 Literature databases

17 Reference managers

18 What software should I use to write my PhD?

19 What to do when faced with a paywall?

20 Scientific names and taxonomic authorities

21 Writing style

22 Retaining your own voice when writing

23 Writing concisely

 24 Writing a PhD if English is not your first language

25 Making sure that you don’t plagiarise

26 Academic phrasebank

27 Why critical reading is crucial for improving your writing

28 What is needed for your research proposal?

29 Making a presentation from your chapter, paper or proposal

30 Starting out transparent

31 Generating funding for your PhD research

32 Fear of submitting written work

33 Why use a formula to structure each chapter or paper?

34 Data Management


35 Writing the sections that make up your data chapter

36 Title page

37 The Abstract

38 The Introduction

39 The Materials and Methods

40 The Results

 41 The Discussion

42 The Acknowledgements

43 The References

44 Tables

45 Figures

46 Who did what?

47 Supplementary Material


48 Now that you have finished your data chapters

49 How to introduce your PhD chapters

50 How to conclude your PhD

51 Formatting your thesis

52 The obligation to publish your work

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John Measey is Associate Professor of Biological Sciences at Stellenbosch University. He has authored or co-authored more than 200 peer reviewed scientific papers and book chapters, and five books. This includes How to write a PhD in Biological Sciences: a guide for the uninitiated, also published by CRC Press. He was the Editor-in-Chief of an ISI journal for 9 years, and currently serves as Associate Editor for 4 other journals. He has graduated more than 20 postgraduate students, and his blog on writing and publishing in biological sciences is read by thousands globally. British born and educated, he lives and works in the beautiful Western Cape, South Africa.