The Deliberate Doctorate
144 pages, 5 1/2 x 8 1/2
8 charts, 2 tables
Release Date:15 Aug 2023

The Deliberate Doctorate

A Values-Focused Journey to your PhD

SERIES: On Campus
UBC Press, On Campus

The Deliberate Doctorate is also available as a free, open access PDF. Click the green download button on the left, or visit the special open access page to download.

Are you intimidated by the thought of embarking on a PhD? Do you wonder if you can or even should go down that path? Are you in the throes of the journey but have lost sight of why you began in the first place? Author Leela Viswanathan has been there and her book, The Deliberate Doctorate, is designed to help you every step of the way. Viswanathan reflects on challenging situations on the road to her PhD and offers insights from her experiences as an associate professor and PhD supervisor. Her exercises will help you identify why you want to achieve your degree, what having one will do for you, and how to stay true to your core values throughout the process. Taken together, the exercises will produce a personalized roadmap to your doctorate.

Designed for current and potential PhDs, the book will guide you through networking in academia, avoiding burnout, and setting boundaries – crucial but often unaddressed aspects of the journey that can make the difference between earning a PhD and abandoning one. Ultimately, this book provides a roadmap for a kinder and more meaningful academic experience – one that nurtures rather than saps graduate students’ energies.

Concise and insightful, honest and frank, this guide to embarking on a PhD is a must-read not only for current and prospective doctoral students, but also for everyone who assists in the process.

Learn more about The Deliberate Doctorate or book Leela Viswanathan as a speaker through the author's website.

If I had had a book like The Deliberate Doctorate when I was a student, I believe it might have changed my life and my own graduate experience. Erin Corber, PhD, former graduate career adviser, McGill University
Dr. Viswanathan’s book is the only one that examines the emotional and ethical stakes of embarking on a PhD. This is a unique and innovative approach to the PhD ‘how-to’ genre. Jillian Sunderland, PhD student, Sociology, University of Toronto

At the time she embarked on her PhD, Dr. Leela Viswanathan had already spent a decade as a community planner and policy analyst. She earned her degree in 2007 and, in 2015, obtained tenure as an associate professor at Queen’s University. Currently an adjunct associate professor in the School of Urban and Regional Planning in the Department of Geography and Planning at Queen’s, Dr. Viswanathan is also the founder and principal of Viswali Consulting. A lifelong learner, Viswanathan is an accomplished and innovative educator, mentor, and researcher. She lives in Kingston, Ontario.

Introduction: Being Deliberate

1 Discovering Your Values

2 Setting Goals Aligned with Your Values

3 Making the Most of Your PhD Supervisor

4 Assembling Your Supervisory Team

5 Networking without Feeling Smarmy about It

6 “Feeling All the Feels” through Your PhD

7 Defining Success on Your Own Terms

Conclusion: Living Your Values

Further Reading


Map from pages 2-3 of The Deliberate Doctorate. This map will help you summarize the results of the reflection exercises, and will help you reflect on your values as you pursue your PhD deliberately.

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