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Emanuel Palm, Luleå University of Technology
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A challenge worth accepting

Published: 8 February 2022

Emanuel Palm finished his PhD at Luleå University of Technology with the doctoral thesis Architectures for Automated Contractual Cooperation. After graduating, he has worked as a freelancing consultant, and the opportunity to control his own time is something he appreciated as a PhD student.

His doctoral thesis is about how to lessen the work burden concerning contracts made by companies in the manufacturing and transport industries. Contracts and agreements are often complex, signed in complicated networks and in need of change over time. It is a time consuming process that is usually handled by people.

– I propose, among other things, formats and protocols for digital contracts, and show how these can run the automated business in a factory.

What are the greatest challenges you’ve faced as a PhD student?

– First, it was difficult for me to understand what research problem I needed to solve. What was first presented to me turned out to be impossible, which forced me to try to understand the wider perspective of the problem and then from there try to determine how I could change the assumptions of the original problem. It was both a frustrating and rewarding process. Secondly, it was often very difficult for me to motivate myself to write my dissertations and other research publications. It did get easier over time, but it would have helped a lot if I had been better at reading and writing academic texts before I started.

What is the most important thing you have learned?

– It is difficult for me to decide what was most important, as today I can not see that any lesson stands out more than anyone else. On the other hand, I can definitely say that I have become better at reading, writing, presenting and convincing. I have become better at valuing and refining ideas, I understand much better how research works and is successful, and, not least, I have seen that I am capable of coping with something as difficult as getting a PhD.

What is it like to be a PhD student specifically at Luleå University of Technology and EISLAB?

– I got the support I needed from my supervisors and other staff, had nice lunches and activities with other doctoral students, and had the privilege of sitting in a nice office space. I quickly gained great freedom in how I set up my work, I see as something positive, even if that freedom was difficult to manage at first.

Do you have any good advice for those who are considering starting a PhD?

– Choose a supervisor carefully. The supervisor needs to believe in your ability and have a will to help you. It comes most naturally if you are interested in what the supervisor is researching and showing your willingness to try even when it is inconvenient or difficult. Also try to find other PhD students you can collaborate with over time. Collaborations can be difficult because you all have different research questions, but it can increase your productivity significantly. Be methodical, brave and do not give up. It's lonely and difficult at times, but it's not impossible.

– Be methodical, brave and do not give up. It's lonely and difficult at times, but it's not impossible.