Jump to content

Eigen

Members
  • Content Count

    4,283
  • Joined

  • Last visited

  • Days Won

    62

Reputation Activity

  1. Like
    Eigen got a reaction from CafeConGabi in Grad. School Supplies?   
    I really strongly second (third?) the recommendation of some good travel mugs. I'd check out Contigo- they have 16 and 20 oz leakproof insulated mugs. And I stress leakproof. Throw it in your backpack and don't worry about it leakproof. Forget you're carrying it upside down leakproof.

    I have the 20 oz, and it goes pretty much everywhere with me.

    Klean Kanteen also has some very nice insulated bottles of various sizes- I have a 12 oz wide mouth that I use for smoothies/juice in the mornings, and it works really well.

    Invest in either a refrigerator for your office, or some good tupperware to pack food in. Nothing will send your budget through the roof like eating lunch out, and you really need to get in a good lunch if you're working long days.

    Good pens. I second the recommendation for colored pens. I have a set of Sharpie pens (Black/Blue/Red) that I use for writing and marking up- the blue and red both show up well on typed works, but the blue is a bit softer. I use the red for undergrads, and the blue for friends.

    As was mentioned, invest in good paper/notebooks. I use the pads of 20lb paper for scratch work, and have some moleskin notebooks that I love for seminars/etc.

    Good walking shoes- you'll probably be doing a lot of it, and good shoes making your feet not ache is well worth it.
  2. Downvote
    Eigen got a reaction from MtrlHstryGrl in What is a good GPA for a graduate student?   
    Just out of curiosity, are you guys saying what you think a decent/average GPA is, or a *good* GPA?
     
    I was answering based on an above average definition of good, but with the 3.5 range answers, I'm thinking maybe I'm going in a slightly different direction. 
  3. Upvote
    Eigen got a reaction from Sigaba in Signature for school email   
    Just to note, there's a difference between being the instructor of record (teaching s course by yourself), and being an "Instructor", which at most schools is a full time or part time member of the faculty. Basically, it's the "an instructor" vs "an Instructor" difference. I've never heard of it going along with a TAship, but that doesn't mean it isn't done  
    You may well know this and be using it correctly, but it would be a pretty big faux pas to use the title of Instructor if you were not hired as one, just like it would be to use the title of Professor. It definitely looks impressive, it can just as easily backfire if you use it wrong. 
  4. Upvote
    Eigen got a reaction from Sigaba in Signature for school email   
    Honestly, I think shorter signatures are in general better. Why does anyone need your snail mail address in an email signature?
    Also, are you currently employed as a (ranked faculty) Instructor in addition to being a student?
  5. Upvote
    Eigen got a reaction from Sigaba in If I knew then what I know now (Officially Grads version)   
    Definately discipline specific. In chem, our first year is the busiest too... You have to combine research, coursework and teaching. The second year, you're usually dine witn most classes, and are mostly settled in to your lab/research.

    I would add that you should do your best to reach out to other students.. Get to know your cohort. If you can bond witn them, they'll be the best support system available to you for the rest of your PhD. Reach out to older students as well... Don't be afraid to ask for help with coursework or research. It's worse to not ask and miss out on a good source of information tha. To look stupid because you didn't know something.

    Also realize that everyone in your cohort will have differernt strengths, since you're all coming from different backgrounds. Use that to your advantage! Swap help in one class for help in another.

    Keep in mind that grad school is as much about endurance as anything else. Pace yourself! Take time off, take time to go out and make friends/make time for friends. Don't work every evening and every weekend, you'll burn out fast. Grad school is where you start to develop habits that will last for the rest of your academic career... It's closer to life as a professor than undergrad by far, and you need to start looking for a balance that you will maintain for the rest of your life (assuming you want to stay in academics).
  6. Upvote
    Eigen got a reaction from Phoenix88 in Needy Undergraduate RAs   
    I do agree that this is largely field specific. While not everyone agrees, in most bench sciences it's pretty well understood that taking on an undergraduate increases the amount of work for a graduate student, rather than decreasing it. Similarly, they are rarely simply there to help the graduate student- they usually end up with their own research project that must be supervised and managed by the graduate student/faculty member they're working for.
    That said, I think the difficulty you're describing is universal- even if the reason I'm working with the undergraduate is to help them grow, at some point they need to be cut off from having to run every little thing they need to do by me, and they need to learn how to look up basic information themselves. 
    One strategy that I've found helpful is to set the rule in place that they need to try to figure something out on their own first- and then they can explain to me what they tried, and what problems they're having. It means I can critique their process and help them modify it for the future, rather than giving them a protocol to follow. 
    The other strategy, that is less for the students growth and more for ensuring good results.... Is to learn how to write very detailed procedures and protocols. I have such written up for every piece of equipment in our lab, as well as a number of data analysis protocols. They're step-by-step, such that it's almost impossible for someone to not be able to follow them.
    I would probably default to the latter approach for a freshman, and the former approach for a senior, with some transition time between them. 
    I usually also have the benefit of long-term relationships with my undergraduate RAs- they start in the freshman year, and I get to keep them until they graduate, usually. So I can walk them through from not knowing anything to being independent. 
  7. Upvote
    Eigen got a reaction from Sigaba in What is a good GPA for a graduate student?   
    Just out of curiosity, are you guys saying what you think a decent/average GPA is, or a *good* GPA?
     
    I was answering based on an above average definition of good, but with the 3.5 range answers, I'm thinking maybe I'm going in a slightly different direction. 
  8. Like
    Eigen got a reaction from Faith786 in Passive or Invisible Ageism (or lifestyleism) in Academia - HigherEd Article from a few years ago   
    It doesn't actually say 7 years from undergrad to post-doc. 
     
    It says 7 years from starting your graduate degree to post-doc, and that's actually not too atypical. It's to keep newly graduated students from competing with PhD's moving from industry, etc. for post-doctoral positions. 
  9. Upvote
    Eigen got a reaction from Phoenix88 in What is a good GPA for a graduate student?   
    Just out of curiosity, are you guys saying what you think a decent/average GPA is, or a *good* GPA?
     
    I was answering based on an above average definition of good, but with the 3.5 range answers, I'm thinking maybe I'm going in a slightly different direction. 
  10. Upvote
    Eigen got a reaction from HootyHoo in How to phrase a declining letter?   
    From my experience, be as careful as possible: I found it really easy to burn bridges with these things. In fact, I recently ran into the program coordinator/graduate recruiter at a department where I declined admission over two years ago... And she said she still remembers being really upset that I declined. It's worth noting that you may well burn bridges simply by declining an offer, and you want to minimize that as much as possible.

    Fields can be small, and keeping good connections is really helpful.

    As was mentioned earlier, it's not like you'll make or break their year by not coming- but if they've taken the time to put together visits, financial packages, etc. they've already invested a decent amount of time in you, and you should be courteous and somewhat personal in declining, imo. Especially if you're in the running/have received fellowships, etc.

    I wrote mine emphasizing my choice based on research fit. It was the easiest way to go, and got the best response, I think. I sent e-mails to PI's I'd met with (that I was particularly interested in working with), as well as the program director/DGS. Declining based on fit is a professionally respectable choice- declining based on financial packages, location, weather, etc. are all less so.

    I still keep up with people from schools I did not attend, and I think the connections you make in the application/admission process can be quite beneficial down the road.
  11. Upvote
    Eigen got a reaction from Le Chat in Fun Post: Best and Craziest Backup Plans   
    My wife and I always talked about combining raising corgis with a coffee shop. Coffee and Corgis. 
    We'd have a big amphitheater-like pen with pillows and corgi puppies, so people could get coffee and then go play with the puppies. Ideally right off campus somewhere. 
  12. Like
    Eigen got a reaction from dartdoc in Getting off to a good start   
    What I've noticed that tends to give a bad impression in past first year students in our program. Some of these, hopefully most of these, should be really obvious. 
     
    Don't focus too much on classes, and not enough on everything else. Courses should be a minor part of what defines you as a graduate student/researcher. When your life revolves around courses, and you spend hours not in the lab because you're "studying" for courses we all know don't need that much study time, it makes you seem like you don't really get what grad school is about. 
     
    While it's obvious, act like an adult. Be professional in your interactions with people, own mistakes you've made and move on without too many excuses. Don't be the guy that can't get over the fact that he now knows people who are married/have kids/are in their 30s. 
     
    That said, treat your work like a job. You're getting paid to take school seriously and do research. If you show up at 10, go to a class, hit the gym for 2 hours and leave at 3, you likely won't make good impressions. That said, you don't need to make school and your work the entirety of your life. 
     
    Along with that, lean how to be at least a little bit social. You don't want to be the new department party animal (well, you might, but that's on you), but you also don't want to be that first year who never does anything social with the department, and leaves all the department functions early/doesn't come. 
     
    Don't be too cocky. Sure, you'll hear some of the 4/th/5th/6th year students talk critically about a seminar speaker in their area, or a faculty member deconstruct a colleagues research. That doesn't mean you should always do the same. Don't be the first year who talks about how some of the faculty are deadweight/have bad research/aren't as smart as they are. 
  13. Upvote
    Eigen got a reaction from TwirlingBlades in PhD going bad.....   
    I'm not exactly sure what was defensive about what I said. You asked what was normal for the first semester. 
    An average TA load is ~20 hours per week, every week. In my field, that's either grading for 2-3 classes with 125-200 students each, or teaching two sections of lab (3 hours each in class per week, plus all the prep, homework and grading). 
    It seems to me like you're having communication issues with your advisor. They told you what they expected of you, and are communicating that they don't feel you are following through with what they expect. 
    Unlike undergrad, grad school in the sciences is more like a job than school. You're being paid, by someone, to do work and make progress- you're paid for your work as a TA, you're paid to make progress on research. The person who is paying you (the department or the professor) has expectations of what they want out of you in turn for that money. If you feel the expectations are unreasonable, or you aren't willing to do them, there's no moral judgement, it just means you need to find another employer (either another school or another advisor) that has expectations more in line with what you want. 
    It can be stressful to be compared to other students, but it does indeed happen. Academia, and the world at large, are competitive places, and you're competing with funding and spots for other students. Being told you're behind, or you're not matching up to the performance of other students (past or present) means you need to do more. It's not uncommon to come in at a deficit  due to a deficient background or swapping fields, but there are rarely allowances made for that- catching up is usually expected to be on your own time.
    That said, I agree with Telkanuru- what exactly are you looking for here? It seems like you just want to rant, and (as mentioned) there's a thread for that.
  14. Downvote
    Eigen got a reaction from historygeek in Grad school and cat   
    Agree to disagree, I guess. I've spent years working with rescuing, rehabilitating and rehoming animals of all kinds, and I would still say get a kitten. 
     
    Should you leave them home for 8 hours straight? No. 
     
    Can you generally make it a priority to break up your day so you can come home for lunch in grad school? Yes. Is it worth it long term? Definitely. 
     
    A cat is going to be a pet that you will have for 15-25 years. It's worth taking the extra time early on to (a) get a young one that you will bond with, and ( take the time to make that bond. 
     
    I find a lot of people that don't get a young cat, especially for a first one, don't end up bonding with it nearly as much, and it either becomes a quasi-forgotten "it's here" pet, or one that they end up trying to rehome when they move, etc. People are more likely, in general, to bond with and commit to a pet that they got young. 
  15. Upvote
    Eigen got a reaction from TwirlingBlades in how to effectively do literature search and review?   
    20-30 articles sounds like very few for a dissertation. I wrote a review article last year, for which I probably read over 200.

    Keep in mind that you'll read a lot of articles that you won't include in the actual discussion, but will help keep it in perspective.

    I'll also disagree that you should cite something just because it is cited a lot- if it's relevant to what you're writing, cite it. If you think it's a central concept, cite it. If it's by a central figure in the field, cite it.

    I personally like to start a literature review by looking for recent review articles in the field- something that will give me a starting place. Then I track down each of the cited articles in that central review, and keep and reads the ones that I think are relevant. Then I track down the references from each of those articles, etc. After I've gotten a good body of related work through citation trees, I usually have a good enough feel for the field that I can start running keyword-type searches to find articles that fill in the gaps in what I have or to branch out into new areas.

    For actually placing the literature review, I like the "by subject, by chronology" organizational scheme. I divide up the subfield I'm writing on into the major parts, and then review the major developments within each of those parts in a chronological fashion, expalining how it built from one itteration to another.
  16. Upvote
    Eigen got a reaction from NeilM in Getting off to a good start   
    See, personally, I feel that working on one task (school) for more than a certain amount per week (usually around 50 hours or so, depending) has severely diminishing returns. 
     
    Keeping other interests in life, relationships and leisure activities gives your brain time to work on different tasks, or have downtime, and you usually end up better for it- your research and studies as well, in my opinion. 
     
    That's not to say that there aren't crunch times where you have to work more, but my anecdotal experience is that people working more than 50 or 60 hours a week are usually less efficient than those working less, and tend to spend more time on tasks that could be finished in less. Most European researchers, I've found, are very dedicated at working a short, highly productive week. They get in, take the job seriously, work 8 hours, and then clock out and do something else. It makes their working time more productive, and limits burnout. 
     
    You may think that you're the kind of person that avoids burnout, but I have not yet met someone who isn't susceptible to it in some way- you may just be less productive, you may miss connections that you'd otherwise see in your work, or you may just not have as good of a perspective of how your work fits in the broader scheme of things. 
     
    There are a lot of discussions on the inter webs about work-life balance, and I have yet to see any convincing data that focussing on your work to the exclusion of all else in your life is ever beneficial, and there are lots of suggestions that it's actually detrimental, both to the quality of your life and the quality of your work. 
  17. Upvote
    Eigen got a reaction from NeilM in Getting off to a good start   
    What I've noticed that tends to give a bad impression in past first year students in our program. Some of these, hopefully most of these, should be really obvious. 
     
    Don't focus too much on classes, and not enough on everything else. Courses should be a minor part of what defines you as a graduate student/researcher. When your life revolves around courses, and you spend hours not in the lab because you're "studying" for courses we all know don't need that much study time, it makes you seem like you don't really get what grad school is about. 
     
    While it's obvious, act like an adult. Be professional in your interactions with people, own mistakes you've made and move on without too many excuses. Don't be the guy that can't get over the fact that he now knows people who are married/have kids/are in their 30s. 
     
    That said, treat your work like a job. You're getting paid to take school seriously and do research. If you show up at 10, go to a class, hit the gym for 2 hours and leave at 3, you likely won't make good impressions. That said, you don't need to make school and your work the entirety of your life. 
     
    Along with that, lean how to be at least a little bit social. You don't want to be the new department party animal (well, you might, but that's on you), but you also don't want to be that first year who never does anything social with the department, and leaves all the department functions early/doesn't come. 
     
    Don't be too cocky. Sure, you'll hear some of the 4/th/5th/6th year students talk critically about a seminar speaker in their area, or a faculty member deconstruct a colleagues research. That doesn't mean you should always do the same. Don't be the first year who talks about how some of the faculty are deadweight/have bad research/aren't as smart as they are. 
  18. Upvote
    Eigen got a reaction from TwirlingBlades in Getting off to a good start   
    See, personally, I feel that working on one task (school) for more than a certain amount per week (usually around 50 hours or so, depending) has severely diminishing returns. 
     
    Keeping other interests in life, relationships and leisure activities gives your brain time to work on different tasks, or have downtime, and you usually end up better for it- your research and studies as well, in my opinion. 
     
    That's not to say that there aren't crunch times where you have to work more, but my anecdotal experience is that people working more than 50 or 60 hours a week are usually less efficient than those working less, and tend to spend more time on tasks that could be finished in less. Most European researchers, I've found, are very dedicated at working a short, highly productive week. They get in, take the job seriously, work 8 hours, and then clock out and do something else. It makes their working time more productive, and limits burnout. 
     
    You may think that you're the kind of person that avoids burnout, but I have not yet met someone who isn't susceptible to it in some way- you may just be less productive, you may miss connections that you'd otherwise see in your work, or you may just not have as good of a perspective of how your work fits in the broader scheme of things. 
     
    There are a lot of discussions on the inter webs about work-life balance, and I have yet to see any convincing data that focussing on your work to the exclusion of all else in your life is ever beneficial, and there are lots of suggestions that it's actually detrimental, both to the quality of your life and the quality of your work. 
  19. Downvote
    Eigen got a reaction from LizKay in Grad school and cat   
    Agree to disagree, I guess. I've spent years working with rescuing, rehabilitating and rehoming animals of all kinds, and I would still say get a kitten. 
     
    Should you leave them home for 8 hours straight? No. 
     
    Can you generally make it a priority to break up your day so you can come home for lunch in grad school? Yes. Is it worth it long term? Definitely. 
     
    A cat is going to be a pet that you will have for 15-25 years. It's worth taking the extra time early on to (a) get a young one that you will bond with, and ( take the time to make that bond. 
     
    I find a lot of people that don't get a young cat, especially for a first one, don't end up bonding with it nearly as much, and it either becomes a quasi-forgotten "it's here" pet, or one that they end up trying to rehome when they move, etc. People are more likely, in general, to bond with and commit to a pet that they got young. 
  20. Upvote
    Eigen got a reaction from LOiseauRouge in Getting off to a good start   
    See, personally, I feel that working on one task (school) for more than a certain amount per week (usually around 50 hours or so, depending) has severely diminishing returns. 
     
    Keeping other interests in life, relationships and leisure activities gives your brain time to work on different tasks, or have downtime, and you usually end up better for it- your research and studies as well, in my opinion. 
     
    That's not to say that there aren't crunch times where you have to work more, but my anecdotal experience is that people working more than 50 or 60 hours a week are usually less efficient than those working less, and tend to spend more time on tasks that could be finished in less. Most European researchers, I've found, are very dedicated at working a short, highly productive week. They get in, take the job seriously, work 8 hours, and then clock out and do something else. It makes their working time more productive, and limits burnout. 
     
    You may think that you're the kind of person that avoids burnout, but I have not yet met someone who isn't susceptible to it in some way- you may just be less productive, you may miss connections that you'd otherwise see in your work, or you may just not have as good of a perspective of how your work fits in the broader scheme of things. 
     
    There are a lot of discussions on the inter webs about work-life balance, and I have yet to see any convincing data that focussing on your work to the exclusion of all else in your life is ever beneficial, and there are lots of suggestions that it's actually detrimental, both to the quality of your life and the quality of your work. 
  21. Upvote
    Eigen got a reaction from GirtonOramsay in how to effectively do literature search and review?   
    20-30 articles sounds like very few for a dissertation. I wrote a review article last year, for which I probably read over 200.

    Keep in mind that you'll read a lot of articles that you won't include in the actual discussion, but will help keep it in perspective.

    I'll also disagree that you should cite something just because it is cited a lot- if it's relevant to what you're writing, cite it. If you think it's a central concept, cite it. If it's by a central figure in the field, cite it.

    I personally like to start a literature review by looking for recent review articles in the field- something that will give me a starting place. Then I track down each of the cited articles in that central review, and keep and reads the ones that I think are relevant. Then I track down the references from each of those articles, etc. After I've gotten a good body of related work through citation trees, I usually have a good enough feel for the field that I can start running keyword-type searches to find articles that fill in the gaps in what I have or to branch out into new areas.

    For actually placing the literature review, I like the "by subject, by chronology" organizational scheme. I divide up the subfield I'm writing on into the major parts, and then review the major developments within each of those parts in a chronological fashion, expalining how it built from one itteration to another.
  22. Upvote
    Eigen got a reaction from TwirlingBlades in The MA degree from HELL.   
    Sounds like a difficult situation to be in. 
     
    I would definitely use it as a learning experience for a few things in grad school, though: 
     
    1) Rarely, if ever, are graduate advisors responsible for informing you of degree deadlines. Most of them don't know when they are. 
    2) Having to track down your advisor is often a way of life. Your work is way more important to you than it is to them, and it's up to you to make sure you're getting what you need from them to keep going. 
    3) You can't let harsh criticism on a paper keep you from working on it for 5 months. I've gotten scathing critiques from reviewers, faculty, etc. It's part of academic life. 
    4) Degrees often take longer than they should. I know a lot of 3rd & 4th years MS students, because their thesis research just wasn't working out like it should, or as fast as it should. 
     
    Good luck finishing up the Thesis this summer!
  23. Upvote
    Eigen got a reaction from bibliophile222 in What u guys do with "undecipherable" writing?   
    The irony of that string of uncapitalized text speak in a thread about grading writing assignments just strikes me as hilarious.
  24. Upvote
    Eigen got a reaction from TwirlingBlades in Professor blackmailing he will not let me graduate - how to deal with this?   
    You don't mention your discipline, so this may be off base. 
     
    But in the sciences, you are largely being paid to forward the goals of the PI and the lab, and being asked to help with another students project is absolutely par for the course. 
     
    It would not at all be considered blackmail to get the sort of email you cite in any lab I'm familiar with, it would be considered a reprimand to a graduate student who's not living up to the expectations of the PI and department. 
     
    The latter part, the request that you spend at least a few hours in lab every afternoon is also worrying to me, as most PIs would expect (in a discipline with labs) that you're in at least a normal 40 hours a week, either working on your projects or helping with general lab upkeep and maintenance/training junior graduate students/helping with other projects. 
     
    Is it perhaps possible that there's a rift in understanding between you and your professor about exactly what is expected of a PhD student?
  25. Upvote
    Eigen got a reaction from hopefulPhD2017 in Compiled Advice from @Gradslack   
    Good compilation of advice from early career faculty to new grad students. @Gradslack compiled the questions and asked them to the @NewPi_Slack community via Twitter, then compiled the answers. 
    Nice range of topics from keeping up with literature, preparation for becoming a PI, and the perennial favorite of dealing with imposter syndrome  
    https://gradstudentslack.wordpress.com/blog/
×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.