Day in the life of PhD student Anna Powell

Apply now for a fully funded 3-year PhD scholarship or the newly piloted Internal Thematic Doctoral Pathway (TDP)

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LJMU’s Bicentennial Vice-Chancellors Scholarships are now open, and applicants can apply for a 3-year funded PhD scholarship or Internal Thematic Doctoral Pathway, which is developing LJMU’s own programmes of cohort-PhD offering, until 19 September. 

We caught up with PhD student Anna Powell, who is currently in the third year of studying her PhD in Psychology, to find out why she applied and what a typical week studying a PhD looks like. 

What made you decide to apply for a PhD Scholarship? 

I really enjoyed my MSc in Health Psychology at LJMU and knew I wanted to carry on doing this work, after speaking with my supervisor Dr Cathy Montgomery I decided to apply for the scholarship. 

When I found out my application had been accepted and I got the scholarship I was over the moon although conflicted. 

At the time, I was working for the Spider Project in Birkenhead, supporting individuals in recovery from mental health and/or substance use disorders. This work was very special to be involved in, and it was a big decision for me to return to academia. However, I felt that I had not finished what I wanted to accomplish with my research, and I am really glad I decided to go for it.  

What are you researching for your PhD? 

I am assessing the utility and predictability of vibrotactile perception (using the Brain Gauge) to assess cognitive function in individuals receiving treatment for alcohol dependence (in inpatient and outpatient settings). Essentially – I want to know if we can predict recovery vs relapse using this relatively cheap and easy-to-use tool, as this might later help to inform individualised treatment plans.   

I am currently in my third year – so the pressure is on! I’d love to continue this work once I have finished the PhD, so I am currently looking into options for this.  

What does a normal day or week look like whilst studying a PhD? 

My testing schedule means that I am at the hospital outpatient clinic every day, and twice weekly at the residential centre. Alongside this, I am revising a paper to be resubmitted to a journal, drafting another paper to submit, and screening papers for a systematic review, so I spend my time between participants working on these, or on other admin such as emails, submitting abstracts to conferences, or preparing presentations for conferences.   

However, it is important to say, not every day is productive! Some days I do not test anyone, or I find it difficult to concentrate at the hospital/residential centre and may not manage to do much writing. Each day is different, and I try to embrace that as much as possible. 

Broadly speaking for my third and final year I can break down activity into several main areas: critical reading and skills training/development, data collection for my final study, redrafting/updating my literature review, structuring my thesis, completing my systematic review, writing up my final study, pre-submission review, submission, and my viva.  

What would you say to anyone thinking of applying for a PhD Scholarship?  

I would say – go for it! I have really enjoyed my time working on this project, and without the funding, I simply would not have been able to do it. I feel very lucky that I get to spend time working towards receiving my PhD, alongside doing research that I am passionate about. 

To find out more about the Bicentennial Vice-Chancellor three-year PhD scholarship, or to apply, visit the webpage. 

Or apply for the Thematic Doctoral Pathways Programme or find out more information. 



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