"The aim of research is to study the "big questions", but that often the way to achieve that is to study smaller, more tractable questions that are steps on the way - which is by and large how science works." - Nobel Laureate, Paul Krugman
Studying for a PhD is a life-changing experience. A PhD is a long project and it is very different to any academic work you have done in the past: it requires three novel research projects (also known as essays / academic articles) that contribute to the existing knowledge. During a PhD you will become a researcher / scientist, formulating your own hypotheses and theories, and testing them for their validity. Scientific research requires curiosity to discover, explore and learn new things; ambition to challenge yourself to become knowledgeable, to make science for the benefit of humanity; dedication, commitment, modesty and patience.
What to expect from a PhD: Studying for a PhD is a stressful endeavor. A PhD is not just four years of intense study but something that will affect your whole life. You will spend many hours on books, computers, and analysing data. All of this takes not only time but also brings personal costs: fewer hours with family, and friends. Therefore, I would recommend prospective candidates to consider whether their reasons for doing a PhD are strong enough to keep them inspired and to reflect on these motivations during the tough times, to remember that there is an important reason for doing something so demanding and difficult.