Blog Archives

Advice to new graduate students

  • Invest time in learning tasks/project management – start here.
  • Review all of your tasks/next action weekly
  • Set time aside to review your projects/goals on a regular basis (at least monthly for projects and quarterly for goals).
  • Set time aside to do something else: sport, tricot, …

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The thrill of abstract submission deadlines

Goals are dreams with deadlines.

– Diana Scharf Hunt

The last few days our research group has been literally perturbed by a deadline for abstract submission to a major scientific meeting. It happens a few times per year and almost every research group around the world live more or less the same level of excitement. Not only for the student trying to make sense of their data and get to present their work at key scientific meetings but also for the supervisor.

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On starting a new project…

I design, plan, execute and complete projects on a regular basis for quite a number of years now. As a researcher, it is an integral part of the job. I often notice in starting grad students that the concept of project planning is not always well-developped (and doing a PhD certainly has some planning phases).

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Take the time to explore the “impossibles”…

There is no use trying,” said Alice. “One can’t believe impossible things.” “I daresay you haven’t had much practice,” said the Queen. “When I was your age, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”

— Lewis Carroll

To you, starting grad students out there, expect to be told many times that something is impossible. This does not mean that you should listen though…

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A single advice about publishing your first scientific paper…

I always wondered what would be the single, most important advice I could give a new graduate student who is looking forward to have his or her work published at some point.

Sure the usual work hard, pick cutting edge topics, chose your advisor carefully and so on are the obvious suspects. But what about a single advice that would put in motions the necessary behavior to essentially “groom” the graduate student in being ready to publish?

After many years of mentoring, mine is read! Read published scientific papers in your field as much as you can and from day 1 on the “job”. Read for journals you are expected to publish in, from journals at the periphery, from more difficult journals to publish in (higher impact factor). Read also outside your field.

Make an habit to scan the usually suspects (for your field at least) once a month and read.

Not only will you know what is state-of-the-art but this will provide you the structure of a scientific manuscript, the language, what is accepted or expected. Note the good to excellent manuscripts, those that are easy to read i.e. that flows and tell you a story. What make them better than others you’ve read?

By the time, you are ready to talk to your advisor about publishing your results, you should have read hundreds of previously published articles.

As theory is not practice, you will also need to write as often as possible. The more you write, the easier it gets. But that’s my second advice 😉

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