24-hour Library: Researching Into the Night

As a PhD student, you have probably left behind the long nights of essay writing and pre-exam revision, but there will still be days with fewer hours than you need. Good news is that with 24/7 Library, Research Exchange will be up and running too. Here’s how to use it and make progress in your research….

Night stints are part and parcel of PhD for some researchers (think zoologists and psychologists interested in sleep and dreams), while others might prefer to stick to 9-5 routine in their studies. Nonetheless, even the most organised among us will sometimes find themselves working away until silly hours. Sure, some people just work better late(r) in the day and choose to do so, but others might be dealing with:

  • Deadlines: Research is intense and we all have busy periods when it is a real struggle to meet all the deadlines agreed with our supervisors or third parties. All-nighter just might save the day.
  • Unexpected tasks: You might have thought you have completed something, only to find a minor mistake that requires you to redo a whole subset of analysis. It happens. Or a colleague, with their heart in the right place, sends you a Call for Papers for an amazing conference in a warm location, with a star line-up of plenary speakers, and your research fits in perfectly with this year’s topic. The only problem is – the deadline is today at 3 am. To sleep or to write an abstract, the question is now…
  • Quiet time: PhD life can be overwhelming at times; constantly augmenting to-read and to-write lists, never ending trails of seminar invitations, queries from students and emails on (mis)use of departmental fridge… These all fall blissfully quiet over the night, and hopefully, your social media will be less buzzing too.
  • Family and work life: For part-time researchers, those with family or other responsibilities, working during the night might be the only way to make progress in certain period of their studies.
  • Procrastination. Being human: Sometimes, despite the looming deadlines, we have a slow day. Or click on the link to see ‘that one funny video/comics’, spiraling up to the moment when we look at the clock and somehow it is 4 pm already. Ooops. Well, hello night, remember me?

Good thing about 24-hour Library is that Research Exchange is open too, so even if you have a dedicated office space, you might head to the Library and work alongside diligent fellow students, rather than on your own (and hot water boiler in the kitchenette will make your life easier too). All the Library resources will be at your hand and, unlike with studying at home, you will be able to maintain a healthy living and studying space division.

However, whether you prefer or need to work through the night in the Library, make sure that it ultimately benefits, rather than harms your overall wellbeing.

  • Organise your all-nighter. Preparation is half the battle and ticking off at least a few smaller tasks from your list will leave you feeling successful and productive.
  • Get enough sleep! You will need to catch up on sleep at some point, and let your body and mind rest after the long night of hard work. If your head is buzzing and unrestful, perhaps a nice cup of camomile tea or cocoa will help you visit the Dreamland.
  • Stay on top of your day activities. Have in mind that academia operates mostly during daytime. You will need to be fresh for your supervision meetings, research group discussions or undergraduate teaching. Learn from my mistakes – 15 seconds long yawns will not impress your colleagues, and might elicit worried looks from those around you.
  • Balance night research and social life. Most people around you, unless they are working night shifts, will be awake and active during day and sleep overnight. Make sure your nocturnal lifestyle does not isolate you from friends, family, and hobbies you enjoy.
  • Take care. This is especially important during the night, so take actions to ensure you are safe on your way to and from the Library. Your safety and wellbeing should always come first (10/10 supervisors would agree).

Finally, even though night grants us quiet hours for uninterrupted work, our subconscious mind constantly works on solving problems and, apparently, many great ideas have come into being while researchers were sleeping. Give sleep a go, too! ?

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