Posts How to Live as a PhD

How to Live as a PhD

Some interesting articles worth reading: - Stress in Research - The illustrated guide to a Ph.D. - Advice Collection by Tao Xie -

Advice sources: Important skills for PhD students, Time Management Strategies,

General Advice

  1. Perseverence and avoiding procrastination would aid you a lot as you keep going forward. It’s more a test of endurance rather than knowledge.

  2. Keep track of things you do. Keep simple notes of everything you do and it would aid you while writing thesis.

  3. Attend and present at as many conferences as possible. They stimulate new ways of looking at your research problems, ensure that you have up-to-date information, and help you to connect with other people who are interested in similar subjects.

  4. Cooperate with somebody who is more experienced and skilled.

  5. Work continuously in small steps.

  6. Love the research.

  7. Praise the failure and be courageous.

  8. Learn time-management.

  9. Have the big picture, know the whole research process.

  10. Don’t spoil your name by doing a crap work.

  11. Leave academic and research world if you find out that it’s not for you.

  12. Keep motivated.

  13. Communication skills.

  14. Avoid ever thinking that you know more than the others.

  15. Remember that researching always is researching what we don’t know, thus critical thinking is more than a prerequisite.

  16. Dilligence. Don’t take a day off casually. Work everyday.

Time Management

  1. Give yourself permission to make mistakes. Perfectionism will kill your creativity and productivity. Revising your draft several times is better than getting it done within the first try.

  2. Try writing or reading in short sprints. Put your attention fully on writing for just 10-30 minutes.

  3. Make a small spiral notebook your closet friend. Instead of acting on urgent to-do’s(emails or phone calls) right away, tuck them away safely in your little notebook, and attend to them after you have finished writing.

  4. Don’t get email and social media out of the way. When you begin your day by reading messages, you are prioritizing other people’s requests before taking action towards your long-term goals. Begin your day by doing the highest priority task, especially one that you have been putting off for a while.

  5. Stop trying to please your supervisor. Focus on the end result they desire, not on trying to please him or her. When you focus on “looking smart”, rather than learning, you might not reach out for help when you need to.

  6. When you catch yourself worrying, do something about it. Talk to someone. Once you identify the exact cause of your worrying, make a plan to either get your research back on track or to talk to your supervisor about next steps.

  7. Celebrate every day. We are so experienced at beating ourselves up, and feeling like failures if we don’t get through our to-do list or if we fall behind on our milestones. “The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate.” - Oprah Winfrey. The next time you don’t get through your to-do list, treat yourself to a little treat (exercise, walk, dinner with friends), to celebrate what you have done.

So You Want to Be a Research Scientist

Credit of the following goes to So You Want to Be a Research Scientist.

  1. Reseach is about ill-posed questions with multiple(or no) answers.
  2. If it is a problem you expect to see solved soon by the community, it is probably not a line of research worth your time in the first place.

  3. Retool often. It is likely that someone with a better mousetrap will sweep away the expertise you’ve painstakingly acquired over a decade.
  4. It’s often the case that big breakthroughs come from bringing together two presumably disparate lines of research.
  5. Subject yourself to intense scrutiny.

How to read papers

Credit of the following goes to Zhihu posts.

  1. By 冲气以为和
    • Form a habit of reading and categorizing 3-4 papers per day.
    • Should know which paper has what contributions.
    • Use Twitter, follow the top researchers in this field, and thus keep track of the newest research.
    • Update yourself with the newest papers(ex. Feedly, Researcher App). At the same time, finish reading the existing old papers in the field(ex. Google Scholar).
  2. By 孟凡康
    • Read people. Search for one top researcher’s papers systematically => Read and categorize his/her papers => Use mindmap to make a summary of his/her work => Deeply think about the whole structure of the research work of this person.
    • Read classical papers. (1)recommended by professors or coworkers; (2)high-cited papers;
  3. By xupenggoing
    • When finishing one paper, try to answer the following questions: (1)Which sub-field does this article belong to? (2)What problems have been solved by this paper? Why these problems are important? (3)What models and methods have been used? How do they solve this problem? (4)What is the core conclusion? What can we do next?
    • Try to organize the papers you have read into a system.
    • For a new area, start with an review paper.
    • Try to make a summary of the history of your research field: who first proposed what important idea at when. To understand the direction of this field.

Advice for Ph.D.

Credit of the following goes to 王汎森:如果让我重做一次研究生.

  1. All of your energy and time, all of the courses taken should have a common focus: the paper you are going to finish.
  2. Make good use of the partnership with your professor. Everything you have heard might give you great innovation..
  3. How to get into the research field? Continuouly read and continouly present. By reading, you would know what this field have; by presenting, you and your professor can understand the essence of some models and ideas better.
  4. Set chanllenges every week, or every month. And try your best to accomplish them.
  5. On paper writing
    • Don’t expect to be perfect when you start writing the papers. Instead, write, and modify, and modify again.
    • Build a knowledge tree. Add relavant staff and delete the irrelavant. Not the more, the better. To build the knowledge tree, you can first read those important books for several times, and use the framework of those books to be yours. Then decide what is relavant and what is irrelavant based on the frame.
    • Always be open to new tools.
    • Try get out of the current field and check the crossing of different disciplines.
    • Practice writing papers in an orderly manner and step by step. Form the habit of writing academically. Even for daily writing, follow the academic writing rules, add footnote, citation and so on.
    • Leave time for thinking. Try to conceptualize what you have read and written. Leave about half an hour per day to reflect.
    • Find one model for writing.
This post is licensed under CC BY 4.0 by the author.