Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Grad School (or PhD) exposed

Is this what comes to your mind when you think of grad school?
Let me assure you, it is not that bad.

I read this article that gives advices (or rather exposures) to grad school. I find it to be quite a good article that reflects how grad students' life are. So, I decided to write a summary on it and point out some of the few places that I disagree with the author.

There are, in total, 10 advices which reflects the life of a grad student. They are summarized as follows:
  1. Your goal is to publish articles. This is where I disagree with the author. To successfully graduate, you probably need to have only 1 or 2 papers published. Of course, this depends on the field and supervisor. Furthermore, I don't like the idea that research is all about publishing. You need to have a strong publication record only if you are aiming to get a faculty position.
  2. Try to find a way to motivate yourself. Don't give up or procrastinate.
  3. Finish your grad studies on time. It is easy to lose track of time when you are doing research. So, this is a great piece of advice.
  4. Supervisors can give you ideas on how to solve your problem but it ultimately depends on you yourself. This is very true. If your supervisor knew the answer, then there was no need for research in the first place.
  5. Don't expect your work to have large impact. Of course, this is not absolutely true. But, accepting and understanding this fact helps you keep some steam to continue with your lame research.
  6. Improve your reading, writing and networking skills. They are important!
  7. Improve your online presence. Not sure if this is really that helpful. My opinion is what do you want to do and do you really need that online presence? Let me remind you - it is not easy managing online presence.
  8. Try to use some time management techniques. In this aspect, the author gave, what I think, to be great advices.
  9. Deliver fast and get feedback often. You want to make sure you don't go down the wrong path. Having meeting with your supervisor every week helps a lot!
  10. Enjoy grad life. Can't agree more! Personally, I am certainly having an awesome time at UofT. I don't think I will be able to live this way after I start working. 
For those who don't have time to read the article, I hope you find his advices/exposures useful for you. If you do have the time, certainly do read his original article!

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