Category Archives: MY Ph.D JOURNEY

SECOND YEAR OF MY PHD PROGRAM

It’s been a year and 8 months since I started my Ph.D program. I wouldn’t say it has been easy especially with the global pandemic caused by the now infamous COVID’19. I faced a lot of difficulties in passing through my second phase. One major difficulty was my mental health. I will start this story from the beginning of when I moved into the second phase of my research.

I was supposed to be registered for my second year by May 2020, however, I was unable to register that month. This caused me to apply for an extension. In summary, I registered for my second year by June 2020. This is when my journey began. Due to my late registration, I was unable to meet up to certain deadlines which made me tighten up my buckles. The pressure of my year 2 deliverable was too much and I was battling with concentration. There were lots of distractions/hindrances at that time such as the fear of contacting the virus, worrying about family and friends, no access to the library. To be honest I felt the world was coming to an end, but it wasn’t. I managed to submit my RDDA, which normally entails an agreed plan of you and your supervisors towards the next phase of your research.

Going into my second year, I thought about several conferences, paper articles, seminars and many other research activities I would like to participate in. Sadly, all of them were canceled , however, I was able to participate in online workshops and training that were organized by the university. Examples of workshops I attended are data collection, data analysis, career planning, ethics, research planning and so on. And yes, the 3MT competition I participated in and was able to reach the finalist stage.

These issues aside, my thesis focused on my theoretical discussion and continuation of my literature review. I had a full grasp of my research, better than my first year. I was supposed to commence my data collection, however, my ethics was denied three times. I am literally still on my ethics process and I do hope to get done with it as soon as possible. My ethics was denied due to different reasons such as the vulnerability of some of the participants, travel restrictions, ambiguity of my research questions.

Honestly, my second year was a marathon but I am excited I passed through it. I am looking forwards to commencing my third year and the higher marathon that might come with it.

I am concluding this by using this opportunity to say a big thank you to all my family and friends that have always trusted and believed in me.

Cheers xx

3MT Competition

Yes, I participated in the 3MT competition. If you do not know what the 3MT competition is about, it is a 3 minutes thesis competition that started at Queensland University, Australia. The intention or aim of this competition is for Ph.D students to be able to present their thesis to a wide range of audience within a limited time.

The moment I saw the opening for the competition, I was excited to participate but I was not sure I would be able to catch up to it due to too many activities I had on my list. As always, I was determined to try. However, I was not able to attend enough training and feedbacks that were organized by the doctoral college at Coventry University but I attended 2 sessions and presented during one of the sessions. The feedback session was very important because I got relevant feedbacks and opinions from both the organizers and other participants, this helped me in restructuring my content to fit the understanding of the audience.

I was glad to be amoung the finalists at the Coventry university finale. The news caught me unaware and I got really good feedback from other participants, lecturers and organizers of the competition.

One mistake I realised I made was that I was talking too fast during my presentation.

The key things I addressed in my presentation are

  1. An engaging topic and introduction. I started my introduction by saying ‘spare the rod and spoil the child’. This is a popular religious phrase, however, I briefly explained the use of that phrase in my presentation. My advice is that when preparing for your 3MT, you should use a catchy topic and introduction.
  2. I involved my personal experience in the presentation and I made the audience feel what the victim
  3. The presentation was simple and straightforward. The presentation had a coherent and consistent flow by explaining why I decided to work on my thesis, what my research is addressing, the methodology that I used and that will be used, the importance of my research and who or what organisations it will be beneficial to.

I hope you enjoyed readng this and you have been able to have a broader understanding about the 3MT competition.


WHAT IS THE WORST ACADEMIC OFFENSE?

PLAGIARISM!!! This is what I believe to be the worst academic offense. According to the University of Oxford[1], Plagiarism is presenting someone else’s work or idea as your own, with or without their consent. My reference to the university of oxford is an example of how to acknowledge a source. Plagiarism is very common, and it proves a lack of understanding or knowledge in your essay or academic work.

In the past years as both an undergraduate and a postgraduate student, I have been a victim of plagiarism unknowingly and knowingly lol. This was either due to my impatience or lack of interest in a particular essay. However as a research student, I have learnt that the same time I spent paraphrasing a particular term would have been the same time I would have spent to think properly and have a good understanding of the topic. A lot of students are victims of this act, I do understand that as students there are times we can’t meet up to deadlines and want a shortcut but that is very wrong and not an excuse. Apart from the academic sanctions for perpetrators, education is quite expensive which a lot of people/students have sacrificed a lot to be in the academic world, therefore I believe we should be very focused and willing to think or create new ideas instead of borrowing or using someone else’s knowledge.

There are several types and forms of plagiarism, however, I will be explaining the forms in the context of the types of plagiarism, which are:

 Self-Plagiarism: Submitting his/her previous work either it is part of the work or the full work. Using myself as an example, I had my master’s dissertation in the topic ‘Corporal punishment of children in Nigeria’ which is related to my Ph.D. thesis ‘How does the Nigerian government enforce the security of child’s rights? An analysis of corporal punishment in public schools’. I got tempted to use some part of my master’s thesis into my PhD thesis, but it is wrong, and I avoided doing such, this is also to avoid academic dishonesty. YES, I am sure some people will say I can do anything with any of my academic work, sorry, you can’t except in situations where approval is granted. Another example of self-plagiarism is submitting the same work in two different academic institutions or authorities. Even though they are the same or similar topic, the context must be different or referenced properly.

 Direct Plagiarism: This includes word for word quotations without referencing the source, the act of cutting and pasting from the internet is wrong in the academic realm. For example, as a law student, there are several laws that I cannot paraphrase because they are laws, therefore I quote them with inverted commas to indicate that words are exactly the same from the same and then I reference them accordingly.

 Mosaic Plagiarism: The act of using phrases from other sources without using quotation marks or paraphrasing or writing it in halves. Paraphrasing is reasonably essential. However, it is wrong to paraphrase a work with the intention of claiming ownership of the idea.

 Accidental Plagiarism: In instances where the source is not mentioned or is incorrect. It is important to use the correct referencing style, depending on the discipline.

Avoiding plagiarism will help to have an opinion of oneself, instead of relying of other scholarly work or writers. It is difficult to have a personal view or opinion, however, that is why you are in academics.


[1] https://www.ox.ac.uk/students/academic/guidance/skills/plagiarism

Importance of Literature Review in Social Sciences/Humanities

Literature review is an essential part of academic work. My deep understanding of literature review emerged from my Bachelor’s degree up until my Ph.D. degree. As students we are not believed to be experts of the topic, therefore, the following are what I have learnt about the importance of literature review;

  • Identify contribution to knowledge: This is a key fact in any research work, most topics have existing knowledge which are vital to broaden ones knowledge as a researcher. According to my Ph.D supervisor (Dr. Brian ), understanding the existing knowledge of your research through scholarly works will help you in identify your contribution to knowledge and setting research question. The essence of every research work is to address something different or discover something new. This will give an affirmation to the audience that your work is valid and you have done your home work properly before concluding or having a position on a topic. The more the scholarly works, articles and books, the more expertise you will be.
  • Understand your Methodology & Theoretical framework: Adopting the right methodology to your research is very important and can be achieved by understanding the existing knowledge. Research methodology across disciplines differ, it is necessary to put that into consideration and read through previous works in order to adopt the right methodology. This also applies to the theoretical framework as the theories that will be adopted needs to be understood thoroughly.
  • Improve Writing and Critical thinking skills: It will be difficult to enhance this skills if you do not expand your knowledge. My personal way of improving my critical thinking skills is by reviewing a literature review, writing my contributions about the scholarly work, what I expect from the author, understanding the validity and reliability of the research. This has helped me in analyzing my personal research work as a third party. This is an idea acquired during training sessions at the Centre of Academic Writing at Coventry University. The understanding of how to place arguments in a research will be ameliorated, not everyone are good at writing. Therefore, if you are in that situation, it will be of great importance to read as many literatures as possible, this way you can understand how writers write.
  • Networking: In the context of networking, I denote relating with scholars in your field. A personal experience is when I started my Ph.D., I found great a significant book ‘Corporal Punishment of children: A human rights violation’ by Susan Bitensky, she is a professor of International human rights. My interest aligned with hers, I couldn’t help but get in touch with her for advice and to commend her work as well. I wouldn’t have come across her work if I didn’t engage in a lot of literature review. In addition, networking is needed for collaborations, publications and so on.

My conclusion is that in academic work especially in the social sciences, reading is a vital tool.

I hope you find this helpful? kindly let me know your suggestions, thoughts and experiences, as it can be useful to me and to other audience.

Thanks.


Some path will be lonely, learn in time to walk alone

No one achieves great things by following the crowd. Have a spine. Strike your own path.” Robert Kiyosaki

The one who follows the crowd will usually get no further than the crowd. The one who walks alone is likely to find themselves in places no one has ever been before.” Albert Einstein

There are times in life when we need a lot of people to walk with us, as human are social beings. Many decisions are being made that involves others, as life goes on, it is impedient that some paths are better walked alone. It will be lonely. There is a point in everyone’s life, the crowd cannot help in fulfilling, regardless of the number, they won’t just be enough.

There is a popular saying that “it is better to walk alone, than walk with a crowd in a wrong direction”. It is not literally walking with the crowd, it also includes advice from people and doing things as the norm requires. Some reasons why some paths will be lonely includes making a cogent decision about one’s life, low self-esteem, life disappointments, when passion and desire is being followed, once there is a question about the rightness or wrongness of decision of others, when there is a fault or wrong in the value shred by people.

Regardless of your circumstances, always remember that a lot of people are passing through the same phase or even worse phases that yours. I believe we owe ourselves the courage and determination to always overcome the bad times, I am of the opinion that it is never wrong to be alone during setbacks, as long as you discover yourself and become a better person.

Everything and everywhere that is worth discovering is where no person has been. Everything that is needed to be discovered is where no person has been. That is why you must set forth on this journey. You must say goodbye to what has been home.Majority that walks with the crowd,get lost in it.


WHAT I LEARNT DURING MY FIRST YEAR OF Ph.D

It was a struggle and it is a progress not yet done. I was super excited to have started my Ph.D. and so far its been nothing less than I expected except the fact that sometimes I get lost during the Ph.D. adventure. The enthusiastic nature in me has kept me on my feet and I am always curious discover new things. Cutting the story short, below are the 10 main things I have learnt during the first year of my Ph.D.

  1. Self-Motivation: I have learnt that my motivation is key to the progress of my research. We all have a reason for choosing a particular research area and this should always motivate us. There have been times when I feel tired and confused but I persist in putting so much effort to achieve my goals. It is very important to have passion in ones research work, this will keep fueling the research energy.
  2. Accept rejections: There were several rejections I encountered, an example is journal article rejection but I have only learnt to work on it better and not to be disheartened.
  3. Seek assistance: Seeking advise from senior colleagues, lecturers and staff is very necessary. We can’t always assume to find answers without asking the more experienced persons.
  4. Identifying research aims and objectives: It is important to understand the reason why the research is been conducted, the contribution to knowledge and how the objectives will be achieved. This is major guide through the research.
  5. Accept new directions: There are lots of times my research was adjusted. An example was when I had to change my theoretical framework, this was a major challenge. Most times, new directions lead to positive results.
  6. Public speaking: I have never had fear of public speaking but this is one thing I have constantly engage in during my Ph.D journey. It is important to be happy about your research and willing to always talk about it. There are lots of presentations to be done either at the faculty or external events, although they are most times not compulsory but they are very good for personal development. I was always excited to make presentations, which hearten me to present at 2 different conferences in my first year.
  7. Discipline: Occasionally, I am tempted to spend time on distracting things instead of my research. I have realized that distraction is a tool that should be avoided and can self-discipline is a tool to fight it.
  8. Literature review: This is a continuous progress, it is important to keep up to date with the literature of your research. You can click on this link for the importance of literature review https://tobioyefeso.com/2020/05/12/importance-of-literature-review-in-social-sciences-humanities/ .
  9. Confidence: Having confidence in ones research work is awesome, this shows that you are conversant with your research and you understand the direction your research is going.
  10. Good relationship with supervisors: This can be tactic but it is very important to establish a good working relationship with supervisors.
  11. Organization: Staying organized is very important, I have always loved to work with a plan and prepare ahead of my days. Therefore, I didn’t find it difficult in organizing my research work. It is necessary to keep your calendar up to date, as there are lots of activities that will be occurring. Having said that, there are different tools that researchers use to organize their research such as Mendeley, Evernote, Microsoft One Note and so on.
  12. Social and Mental: There is more to life than just a PhD, I usually engage in other activities such as attending moot courts, tea breaks, catching up with colleagues, blogging, visiting places around, going to the gym, watch movie and others. I believe this helps to keep the social and mental health good. As a famous proverb says that ‘All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy’.

WHY I DECIDED TO DO A Ph.D.

Starting a Ph.D. was a dream come through for me. While growing up, I wasn’t too sure what I wanted to do career-wise but I knew I wanted to do things that seem impossible to the feeble mind.

I wanted to enage in mind boggling activities within the social sciences and understand how variable related into outcomes. In a few words, I wanted to engage in tasking activities and sicover peculiar facts based on research findings. I wanted to make positive impacts in peoples life through my intellectual power as many people believed I was very smart just wanted. But then, I wasn’t sure about how to go about it, I read lot of books and solved lots of puzzles, which made me believe there is always a way.

My dad wanted me to be an Accountant and my mum wanted me to be whatever I wanted to be. Sadly, I was terrible at mathematics, so I eneded up as an Art student. This did not deter my dad who trusted my path to Accounting was still nurtured. One day, my dad sat me down and asked a simply question, he said;

Dad: Tobi what career path have you chosen?

Me: Daddy I want to be a Lawyer

Dad: Why do you want to be a Lawyer?

Me: I want to help people (that was the only thing I had in mind as a teenager)

My parents supported me in the path I wanted but at the long run, my discipline was too broad (I’d talk about my degrees in another post). My parents decision towards my career seemed different but I learnt from their style of career informed parenting. I think forcing a child to pick an interest in a particular discipline (science or art) is poor considering that you may have not understood the passion and interest of the child. We can only understand the passion of our children by been readily available for them. We should not allow the modern caveats in our society make us impose a career on our children or leave our children to free will because we do not want to force a career on them. The fundamental responsibility of parent to children is guidance from experience and love. This will make us avoid subjective training in the career development of our children from an early age and help us develop their strengths and skills in what they find engaging and willing to invest their resources to add value to the world. Forgive me for digressing but I will talk more about this in a different post.

I had passion in children and it is always a misery when I see a child rights been violated and can’t do anything. This was a great motivation for me. Let me cut the long story short by highlighting 5 reasons why I decided to do a Ph.D.

1. I want to kill my curiosity in discovering new approaches

2. To become an expert in Child Rights

3. To demonstrate my intellectual potential and get enough confidence to analyze and solve societal problems

4. To offer a significant contribution to the existing knowledge of my research

5. Long-term career goals.

Let the Ph.D journey begin…

Do not forget to drop your comment and advise.


  1. Plagiarism!!! I learnt this in my second year as an undergraduate student in University of Lagos. Two of my lecturers…