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Is there a (reasonably common) verb I can use meaning "to perform the practical work" of one’s PhD thesis that I can use to put in the following blank:

I have ____ my Ph.D. in the laboratory of Professor M. Hatter.

I can’t use "completed" because I’m lacking my defence as of I-don’t-yet-know-when-exactly.

  • If it's a Ph.D by research, you can say that you've finished writing up. If you want to talk about your association with the lab, you can say that your Ph.D candidature was conducted there. – Lawrence Feb 10 '17 at 3:09
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The academy uses the word practicum to describe the supervised application of a student's research and study of theory. Michigan State University describes the practicum for a PhD in kinesiology thusly:

The purpose of the research practicum in the Department of Kinesiology is to provide students with an opportunity to learn and practice research skills early in the doctoral program of study. This research practicum also provides the student’s guidance committee with an opportunity to assess the student’s research knowledge and skills, with a goal of using the results to guide research mentoring efforts during the remainder of the degree program.

The requirement is that the "research practicum must be completed within the first two years or 36 credits of doctoral study, whichever occurs later." Thus you may use complete to describe your fulfillment of this PhD practicum before you complete the degree.

It would be wise to consult your own institution to find out whether they use this terminology.

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  • +1 Nice. I did not know this word. – Jim Feb 10 '17 at 6:16
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You can say:

I have conducted my doctoral research in the laboratory of Professor M. Hatter.

If the surrounding context makes it clear that you are discussing your Ph.D., you can leave out doctoral.

A quick web search for "conducting doctoral research" turns up several examples:

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