Saturday, November 26, 2011

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Advice for future doc students

Now that I'm realizing that I actually may graduate one day, I keep thinking about what I wish I had known (or fully embraced) when I started. The problem is my brain is so gone that I can't remember all these tidbits at once. So, I'll just try to log them here when I think of them.

1. Keep all your books, articles, notes, posted slides, everything from your coursework and seminars. Be geeky and organize them for easy access later. It's very likely that you'll one day be TEACHING the very topics you thought you could doze through since they don't really relate to your research.

2. Everyone is required to read journal articles that are dull, utterly confusing, seemingly irrelevant, and/or, again, do not relate to your line of research. When pressed for time (or losing your sanity), read the abstract, then skim the introduction and the discussion. Look for phrases like "In other words" and "To summarize" and "For example" as they will shortcut you to the learnin.

3. When you are reading stuff that actually DOES relate to your line of research or is otherwise important, and you're having trouble focusing, synthesizing, retaining or even understanding the material, come up with your own examples. Write them down. Draw an illustration of the example. Then explain it aloud to your dog. Multi-modal learning works!

4. Similarly, when preparing for general/qualifying exams, write while you read. Read a few paragraphs, think about it, and write about the concepts for yourself, including your nifty examples (be very careful to note any paraphrasing and put verbatim in quotes to avoid plagarizing). You will learn the material more thoroughly, and hey! how cool is it that I already wrote two pages about this construct that I can now synthethesize with another two pages I wrote about the Schmedly & Furgus 2007 article and dump it into my exam!

To be continued...

5. If possible, try to have a baby during your doctoral program. It will make study time feel like a vacation. (Kidding...kind of...)

Sunday, November 13, 2011


Style appointment. New car. Playdates. Doc appointment. Conference call. Cider. Model discussion. Lantern walk. Trader Joe's. Good conversation. Seahawks. IRB. Grant reviews. Conference proposal. Error analysis. Stats consult. Lunch. Caregivers group. Art with Heart. Meet with Nancy. Thanksgiving.