Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 56:1 (Mar 2013)
Article: Book Reviews
Author: Anonymous

Book Reviews

Prepare, Succeed, Advance: A Guidebook for Getting a Ph.D. in Biblical Studies and Beyond. By Nijay Gupta. Eugene, OR: Pickwick, 2011, 156 pp., $19.00.

As a doctoral candidate in Biblical Studies, I know that earning a Ph.D. is a difficult and sometimes frighteningly mysterious enterprise. As an academic advisor for a major American seminary, I am aware that many aspiring Ph.D. students are unaware of the preparation necessary for doctoral work. Many of my fellow students are profoundly disoriented in their attempts to pursue a Ph.D. and become involved in the academy. Thankfully, prospective and current Ph.D. students now have a sure guide to get them from orientation to graduation. Nijay Gupta’s guidebook Prepare, Succeed, Advance is a thorough introduction to all things doctoral. Gupta, who earned a Ph.D. in NT from the University of Durham, draws from his own deep well of personal experience and research to provide potential Ph.D. students everything they need to know about the next several years of their lives. He deconstructs the myths and unravels the mystery surrounding applying, enduring, and achieving a Ph.D. His work is a concise and practical guide to doctoral studies and life in the academy.

As the title suggests, the book consists of three sections. The “Prepare” section unpacks all the issues pertaining to the application process. Gupta explains the factors to consider when choosing between doctoral programs. He describes the benefits and limitations of different types of schools (e.g. British universities, American universities, American seminaries). He also provides readers with a list of first- and second-tier institutions in the US and the UK (pp. 16–24). He then identifies the “eight factors” that determine a student’s preparation for doctoral studies: (1) institutions of education; (2) GPA; (3) preparatory coursework; (4) references; (5) standardized test scores; (6) research/publishing record; (7) teaching experience; and (8) overall diversification (pp. 25–40). He concludes by explaining how to construct an eye-catching application and offers advice on cover letters (pp. 44–45), obtaining references (p. 46), submitting a research proposal (pp. 48–50), and other related subjects.

The “Succeed” section addresses the task of actually earning a Ph.D. Gupta explains how to find a viable research topic and where to look for research ideas (chap. 4). He also offers advice on the task of researching and writing the dissertation and discusses everything from common pitfalls to working effectively with one’s supervisor (chap. 5). Chapter 6 describes the process of defending the dissertation. As Gupta indicates, the defense process is “mysterious and intimidating” to many Ph.D. students because it “...

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