Interview with Prof Maria Sanchez Patino
Why are you working with DoctoralNet?
Because, after many years working at universities, I think that support for PhD students to succeed in the established time is not as responsive to students’ needs as it should be. Students have different learning styles, face unexpected events, and have different challenges to finish their theses or dissertations. University organizations have difficulties to react promptly to such needs due to their structural nature. Therefore, an organization like DoctoralNet is a useful tool to guide students through the doctoral process in a quicker and more responsive way and I am glad to be part of a team that is focused on helping PhD students achieve their goals and change our world.
What is your favorite part of helping PhD students succeed?
Guide them to become scholars. At the beginning of the doctoral process, students approach it with many fears, uncertainties, and doubts. They usually ask for a high level of guidance and, in that sense, they do not differ from Masters students. When the process is developed in a supporting but also challenging way, students get used to identify problems, evaluate options, and make appropriate decisions. That is a transforming experience that, at the end of the journey, change students into experts in their fields of study and colleagues of the people they admire. In my opinion, that is the best product of the doctoral process.
What things do you wish you had known that you would suggest to doctoral students now?
When I was a doctoral student, world was quite different because it was not as connected as it is now. Access to information was difficult, at least in developing countries like mine. Therefore, looking for reliable and useful information was a real challenge. Nowadays, the challenge is on the opposite side: too much information at hand and the problem is how to handle such amount of input in the most productive way. Therefore, my suggestion is to focus your searches on reliable sources like peer-reviewed journals, set up criteria to evaluate information based on its relationship to your problem/research objectives or questions/methodology, organize it using software tools, and include always an annotation with the main ideas of each source and its usefulness for your study. These steps will help students manage information and take advantage of it.
On the personal aspect of the process, I would like to suggest you always trust your supervisor(s) and experts that may help you. Their main interest is your success. Let them know your concerns, but do it in a proactive way, which means that you have a previous analysis of the problem you face and have at least a basic idea of the possible options. That will ease their guiding work and you will be in a position that reflects your condition as an adult learner.
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To read more about my way of conceiving the coaching or mentoring relationship, visit my document page here.