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  1. Upvote
    GirtonOramsay got a reaction from Phoenix88 in How early is early in moving to a new school and how late is late?   
    This is a very helpful and insightful thread as I'm freaking out about preparing for my 1st long distance move! ?
    I'm currently planning to get a 2 bed apt with a roommate, but I have no way of getting out to my new town until 2 weeks before orientation due to summer camp work. Is there any way that I ensure when searching for apartments by housing companies? For instance, would be it odd to request a "virtual" tour where I ask to see a walkthrough of the apartment via video chat, like Skype or similar service?
  2. Upvote
    GirtonOramsay reacted to Eigen 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.
  3. Upvote
    GirtonOramsay reacted to poco_puffs in If I knew then what I know now (Officially Grads version)   
    1. I wish I had known the first few months were going to be so expensive-- finishing up with moving costs, establishing the new place, the new computer, textbooks and school supplies, some new clothes, socializing with the cohort (bar costs!) and Christmas/holiday travel and gifts. Starting a budget earlier would have eased some of that post-Christmas money panic where I wasn't sure if my remaining income/stipend would yield enough savings for summer. Adding excess money worries to the already stressful life changes was unfortunate, so I recommend being honest with yourself, your income, and your expenses as they might play out over a long period of time (and not just month to month).

    2. Time budgeting can be just as important as money budgeting. I was great about reading for the first four or five weeks, and then I slipped into the (very common) habit of only doing about half of the reading for any given class. It hasn't hurt my grades, but my choice to socialize or just take a lot of relaxation time at home has probably eroded some of the educational benefits of discussion and reading outside of my research for seminar papers.

    3. Speaking of seminar papers and term projects: Start earlier than you ever have before. If you ever procrastinated on your big assignments in the past, this new time at school is the opportunity to break the habit and start treating these assignments like what they are: part of your job, and a stepping stone to your career. Waiting until the last week to research, or the last day to write, is something I see a lot of grad students still doing. Sure, plenty of them are doing okay in terms of grades, but they aren't doing their best work and-- let's face it-- we're getting too old for those late-night shenanigans.

    4. Everyone knows you will be busy, so they might not say anything, but try not to lose contact with your friends and family from home. There will be plenty of new friends to be had, and starting fresh relationships can be liberating, but they likely won't be able to replace the deeper roots you've established elsewhere. Don't forget to call or write or facebook with the people who know you best.

    I made some Grad School Resolutions last summer (the thread is still kicking around somewhere) about saying yes to invitations and being more positive, and I think that I held to them and they yielded some nice results. There are definitely some other things I might add later, but these are the first that come to mind.
  4. Like
    GirtonOramsay reacted to TakeruK in Note taking during advisor meetings   
    As a grad student, I almost always showed up to my advisor meetings with a notebook open and a pen. Ahead of each meeting, I make notes (like 2 or 3 words) for each item I wanted to bring up. I quickly jot down their responses after each one. To help ensure I keep my notes short, I write each item on one line only, so I am fairly limited in what I am able to write, which allows me to spend most of my time in conversation instead of looking at my notebook.
    Most of my items are seeking approval/clarification that can be easily written in one line, or I just jot down a few words for me to write out a fuller explanation for myself later. 
    I leave the rest of the notebook page blank in case something more complicated comes up that requires more notes. Sometimes my advisor and I derive something together and that takes space. Or I just use this space later to summarize the meeting after I return to my desk.
    Each advisor's style is different so you'll have to find what works best for you and them. For me, I took the lead in most of the one-on-one meetings, although my advisor would also ask for updates or questions on specific things if I forgot to include it in my list. 
    In addition, I felt it was normal and expected to be taking notes during the meetings, especially when we were starting a new project and especially when I was a new student. These meetings are basically laying out the instructions for my work in the coming weeks so it makes sense to have a good grasp on them. So, in the beginning, when my advisor led the meetings more, they always paused and waited for me to finish writing notes. Later, when I led the meetings, I might ask to pause the conversation for 30 seconds to ensure I get a citation written down correctly for later review (or to check spelling etc.). Overall, it felt pretty natural to me, to have a discussion on a topic, take a pause to jot down some notes, and then when I look back up, we continue the conversation. (as I wrote above, pauses were short since I only jotted down key words). If we ended up working out something on the board, I can just snap a photo later.
    So far, I apply the same strategy when advising undergrads working with me and it seems to work too. I think my advisor appreciated the fact that I had notes prepared ahead of the meeting and that I took notes on what we said to ensure I did it right and to avoid asking the same thing over and over. I know I definitely think it's a good thing when my students show up with notes / notebooks and I am glad when they take notes during our meetings. Again though, so much of this is dependent on your personalities and the type of advising relationship you have.
  5. Upvote
    GirtonOramsay reacted to TakeruK in Waiting on Reimbursement - Reach Out Or Let It Go?   
    Like others said, schools are often very slow. 
    This is money that you are owed, so I would not give up on it. It makes sense to be smart about how much you want to push them, but you should continue to check in every few weeks or so until this is resolved. Graduation also has very little to do with anything. Most schools have fiscal years that match their government (i.e. US schools Oct 1 - Sept 30, Canadian schools Apr 1 - Mar 31) and even if the deadline is passed, most schools have processes to finish up slow claims as long as it was started / committed prior to the budget closed.
    By the way, in grad school and other parts of academia, you will constantly have to maintain good positive relationships with others, especially those in power over you, while consistently holding firm to your own beliefs and what is rightfully yours. If you don't then you will be taken advantage of and trodden all over. So consider this a good first step.
  6. Upvote
    GirtonOramsay reacted to Almaqah Thwn in I just realized I may have accidentally plagiarized parts of my undergraduate honors thesis   
    How often do undergrad theses even get read? Even in STEM? Even at my lower ranked grad program, in the teacher assistants' lounge we had a bunch of master's theses and we just used them for paper weights or for laptop props, for when students wanted to pretend to have a standing desk.  
  7. Upvote
    GirtonOramsay reacted to samman1994 in How early is early in moving to a new school and how late is late?   
    Something you may also want to do, try and contact the grad students themselves. I've already talked to a few who said it's fine for me to crash their couch for a few days while I tour apartments in my time there. Now you're discussing a week or 2, but you may be able to crash their place while you look for your apartment. That should be enough time to find a place hopefully. 
  8. Upvote
    GirtonOramsay reacted to TakeruK in How early is early in moving to a new school and how late is late?   
    You could request such a thing but my experience is that most building managers/supers don't really want to spend their time doing this and many of them don't know how to do such a thing. But it will depend a lot on the market. If there are 5+ people viewing each unit, then why would they bother with the virtual tour thing when they can easily rent to someone who will do things the normal way.
    You said that you were planning on getting an apartment with a roommate---will your roommate arrive in town before you? Maybe they can check it out in person instead. Or, maybe a friendly grad student in your new program would be willing to come see one or two places in person on your behalf. If none of that works and you don't want to take the risk on it not being a real place, you can hire a broker to do this on your behalf. I've not hired such a person before but typically they charge $300 or so per day and they would be willing to do research, call up places and view them all for you if you are going to pay them for all those hours. But some of them would be willing to just spend the day visiting places, taking pictures and sending them to you in a report at the end of the day. 
    It's not cheap, but if having human eyes on a location is critical for you, $300-$500 is definitely a lot cheaper than flying out there yourself and better than losing your security deposit to a scam (or being stuck in a long lease).
  9. Like
    GirtonOramsay reacted to sheldina in I've finally committed...now what?   
    Most people I know take the summer off to relax (you've earned it if you've made it this far!) Me personally, I'm starting research early over the summer for two reasons A] I'm switching fields from undergrad to grad school and I'm nervous about being behind (my PI told me not to worry and relax, but it would actually make my anxiety better to get a jumpstart on research and be productive rather than relax and wait around, me personally) and B] I graduated from undergrad a semester early (December) so this spring I took the semester off to relax and spend time with friends already so I don't feel I need the extra break, I'm eager to get started and get back in school-mode. Don't feel bad for relaxing and just mentally preparing yourself for the journey ahead. Otherwise, find housing, register for courses, etc.
  10. Upvote
    GirtonOramsay reacted to zilch in Grad. School Supplies?   
    external hard drive to back up your collection of papers, data, etc.

    flash drive - useful for sharing larger files with colleagues, carrying presentations, etc.

    a dry erase board and markers - mount it on the wall, it'll make your life wonderful (sort of).
  11. Like
    GirtonOramsay reacted to TakeruK in How to develop research topic in oversaturated field?   
    Your advisor is likely right---in our field, there ARE tons of valuable insights that remain to be made from the precious data, especially data from missions! For most of these missions, even when they have ended, the existing dataset is going to be the best data available for a good long while. It takes so much time, energy and especially money to get missions to other planets/moons and there are just so many cool places to see in our Solar System that unless you're studying Mars, there may only be one mission (two if you're lucky) to your favourite celestial location in your career. 
    You are also right that you should be working with your advisor during your first year(s) to develop projects into a PhD. I don't mean to insult you but it's not that worrying that a prospective grad student is unable to come up with ideas that haven't already been done by other researchers. If you can do this, then you would already have a PhD  The reason why it is hard for your specific case is that with missions, the "low hanging fruit" and the most obvious studies to conduct are done first. In fact, they are often already planned by the science team years before the mission even launches (of course, the missions themselves yield data that leads us in more directions!). So, in your shoes, I would not worry that I can't come up with a novel way to analyze the data that the rest of the field has not already considered. There is way more data out there than people in our field to work on it and your advisor can help you carve out a niche for yourself. 
    I consider grad school to be an "incubation" process to becoming an independent researcher. At first, you would "rely" on your advisor more to come up with project ideas. You should definitely still try to come up with your own but it's okay if these ideas are already done by others (in fact, it's a good sign, because this means that your thinking is in tune with the field's). Discussions with your advisor can help you figure out how you can take a different approach than others have in the past. Planetary Science is also a beautifully multidisciplinary field (in my totally unbiased opinion :P) so during your grad studies, you will be meeting other people with different approaches and you will get opportunities to combine something you learned from one area with a dataset from another area to develop new results. In fact, during my grad studies, this happened quite often amongst our students  
    As I said, grad school is a training/incubation process. The goal is to leave with a PhD and the ability to not only come up with good ideas for yourself but also some wisdom/experience in knowing which ideas are worth pursuing and how to really refine an idea into an actual project. If you could do all this already, then you wouldn't need a PhD. So don't beat yourself up if you are only at the "ideas" phase (which is already itself a great start).
  12. Upvote
    GirtonOramsay reacted to starmaker in Choosing a thesis topic   
    A tip for finding interesting research questions that are feasible:

    Read recent papers and find some that interest you. Then, closely reread the "discussion" sections of those, where the authors talk about the limitations of their research and potential future directions for this line of research. You can come up with solid interesting topics that way. You can also look for limitations of their research that they DON'T discuss, and pick a topic that would address those.

    Just make sure that nobody already took your idea. The first time I came up with my own research topic with no help from a prof or other research supervisor (using the method described above), I discovered after a month of good work on the topic that somebody had beaten me to it. I actually managed to get a new topic from applying the above method to the paper that scooped my original topic, and got a well-received conference poster out of it and an A in the class that this was the term project for, but it was a pain having to re-start everything, and if I'd done a better lit review in the first place I wouldn't have run into the problem.
  13. Like
    GirtonOramsay got a reaction from Oklash in "Let's just TALK about it..." Decision Edition   
    I completely with @Oklash  that a gap year is completely worth taking the time off to reflect on your undergraduate and get a reprieve from the ~16 yrs of continuous school that you likely went through. Taking a year off >> potentially doubling your student debt (no matter how great the research program might be) for a MA.
    I personally gave up applying half way through last season because I had been so overwhelmed by my senior year and felt clueless about what I wanted to do in graduate school (even now, I'm very conflicted). During my gap year, I did research and worked various jobs at my school that would give me a better reality of my capabilities and interests with graduate school (computational modeling, working in a lab, etc.) and grow upon my strengths. More specifically as an astronomy major, I worked as an observatory assistant teaching astronomy students how to take/process astronomical images, became a certified programming instructor, and learned how to collect high-quality observations of exoplanets for citizen science purposes. I'm not trying to show off, but highlight how I had time to explore these activities/jobs and grow my skills that ultimately helped to strengthen my applications and highlighted my passion/commitment to continuing research in my research field to prospective POIs and AdComs.
    The confidence of my applications in this season so much higher as a result of taking that time to contemplate over my undergraduate experiences and work on new activities like teaching astronomy & programming, so don't fear turning down the offer if it's not in your best financial or personal interests.
  14. Like
    GirtonOramsay got a reaction from brainlass in Finishing undergrad research during first year of PhD   
    Kinda forgot to come back to this question lol. I definitely appreciate all of the advice from everyone's different perspectives! My situation is a bit more complicated with regards to the authorship situation considering that I was assigned to an abandoned PhD project that was 4 more years in the works such that the methods were pretty well established. I then came on to regenerate the programming procedures for the methods and gathered newer, updated datasets for the analysis. My advisor and I have working together to finish producing the results (developing a multi-regression model) and do expect to finish it in the summer before I leave. We were planning to begin the writing phase in summer and submit it by year's end. At the end of the day, I definitely want (and my advisor too) to this project go through to completion since my advisor has slowly developed the theory and contributed to the observations for nearly a decade now supporting this "ignored" effect.
    In regards to graduate collaborations, this research is in a different field from where I'm going for any grad school, so that would definitely not be an option. In the meantime, I'll take everyone's advice to discuss the important details of authorship responsibilities and will create an "ideal" calendar for producing the final expected results. @brainlass I'm in the same boat too (no grad student/postdoc), so I realize that the ball is in my court now and will need to put in the work to make it a publication like yourself. 
  15. Upvote
    GirtonOramsay reacted to PokePsych in I am getting grumpy since I have been waiting for the final result for almost 1 month   
    I'd love to come over and complain together about this - but I'm on the other side of the world atm. My main way to deal with the stress now is just to go hardcore on my other research projects (the publications wouldn't do any harm if I don't get accepted in the end for the next cycle, nor if I get accepted lol).
    Quote from 3 weeks ago: 'Things should be moving fast now' - but it should take no more than 'a couple of weeks'. (one week after the moving fast I got the other invite to chat - it seems to be like a weekly thing, so if they follow this trend (every wed - I should get news today lol)).
  16. Upvote
    GirtonOramsay reacted to TheHoff in I am getting grumpy since I have been waiting for the final result for almost 1 month   
    I am trying to remain calm but I get grumpy everytime and I get an email on my main inbox and it's not related to Grad school admissions or when people ask me "how are the applications going?/Did you hear back from any school?" 
  17. Upvote
    GirtonOramsay reacted to Carly Rae Jepsen in Basic Packing List   
    I've bookmarked this thread. Thanks everybody!
  18. Like
    GirtonOramsay got a reaction from senorbrightside in "Let's just TALK about it..." Decision Edition   
    I completely with @Oklash  that a gap year is completely worth taking the time off to reflect on your undergraduate and get a reprieve from the ~16 yrs of continuous school that you likely went through. Taking a year off >> potentially doubling your student debt (no matter how great the research program might be) for a MA.
    I personally gave up applying half way through last season because I had been so overwhelmed by my senior year and felt clueless about what I wanted to do in graduate school (even now, I'm very conflicted). During my gap year, I did research and worked various jobs at my school that would give me a better reality of my capabilities and interests with graduate school (computational modeling, working in a lab, etc.) and grow upon my strengths. More specifically as an astronomy major, I worked as an observatory assistant teaching astronomy students how to take/process astronomical images, became a certified programming instructor, and learned how to collect high-quality observations of exoplanets for citizen science purposes. I'm not trying to show off, but highlight how I had time to explore these activities/jobs and grow my skills that ultimately helped to strengthen my applications and highlighted my passion/commitment to continuing research in my research field to prospective POIs and AdComs.
    The confidence of my applications in this season so much higher as a result of taking that time to contemplate over my undergraduate experiences and work on new activities like teaching astronomy & programming, so don't fear turning down the offer if it's not in your best financial or personal interests.
  19. Like
    GirtonOramsay reacted to Oklash in "Let's just TALK about it..." Decision Edition   
    I’m going to be perfectly honest and I hope that this aligns with what you want to hear but doubling debt is not worth one MA degree. Especially if you plan on getting a PhD. 
    As someone who didn’t start my MA after undergrad b/c of getting unanimously rejected, I’m glad I took a year off. It hurt but I’m glad it happened.  After the year had passed, my application had become so much stronger and it didn’t even feel like that long of a wait. I didn’t even do anything that glamorous during my gap year, I just worked at my parents restaurants and tutored school children via care.com. But it gave me a lot of time to improve my application material. I got to talk to people who were admitted, speak with my advisor who told me not to give up and I got to  take a breather from school. The year also made me realize how badly I wanted the career i was trying to have and how determined I needed to be in order to make it happen.
    A gap year to improve my prospects for next time was so much more beneficial than the debt I would have undertaken to avoid it. I still wish I had gotten in the first time I attempted grad apps but now I have been accepted into 3 fully funded programs and waitlist for a 4th. Again, the only thing about my application that changed was the time taken to re evaluate myself, talk to other people, and improve my application. 
    At the end of the day, you know what’s best. And if you really want to take out loans, go ahead. But waiting it out for a year is not easy. But when it does work out, you will have much more drive and motivation. Good luck!
  20. Like
    GirtonOramsay reacted to FishNerd in "Let's just TALK about it..." Decision Edition   
    So I really don't understand what factors the US News ranking system uses and the ranking seems arbitrary to me at times (but then again I didn't taken into account rank super highly when I was applying to programs). What I take away from the US News rankings is a rough estimation of how well that department/school is known for the field that is being ranked. I'm not sure if this is the case or not but I always thought of those rankings as an indication of how likely a wider audience would recognize that department at that school.
    Honestly, I would personally choose faculty research fit over prestige. Also if the money is with the best research fit then that's even more of a selling point. If you think the faculty are a good fit, are productive researchers and would make you a better researcher then I think you should choose the place that seems like it will be the best to advance your studies as a researcher. Now if you come to find that the more prestigious programs have more productive faculty then that could be an indication of a program that would help you further in your academic career. But if you think you will be more productive and advance your knowledge at the school with the great faculty that isn't as prestigious I think you should go that route.
  21. Upvote
    GirtonOramsay reacted to swimlala in "Let's just TALK about it..." Decision Edition   
    @Bayesian1701 45 days?!?  I am still waiting to hear back from 4 schools... How am I supposed to start really making a decision with so many unknowns still?? This process has been SO much harder than I'd imagined. 
  22. Upvote
    GirtonOramsay reacted to TakeruK in Postdoc PhD advisor?   
    Oh, that does sound interesting and complex! 
    It sounds like you do have some stability here. It sounds like you are saying the postdoc has the grant so they are covered in terms of funding for 4-5 years. To me, this sounds like the postdoc is really a research scientist with a term contract rather than a typical postdoc. Did they refer to their own position as a postdoc? 
    You're right that it might be a hint that the postdoc has a chance to become a permanent scientist. But many Observatories like you describe (I'm thinking of Lowell Observatory in particular with this example) don't offer tenure so you either have a term contract or you are hired indefinitely. Alternatively, many other observatories/institutions are "soft-money", meaning that you have a job there as long as you keep winning grant money to support your salary and your research. Some of these "soft money" institutions have backup funding available to help cover a gap in funding or other infrastructure (now, I'm thinking of SwRI). In all of these cases, these research scientists may have adjunct or other visiting status at the University too, or they may even have dual status.
    In any case, I think this would be an okay arrangement if you are happy with it yourself. I think it might be worth getting more details on exactly what the regulations are from the school you would be joining (that is, while your advisor and their advisor would be employed at the observatory, you would still be a student at the University and therefore subject to the school's rules instead). Check with the director of grad studies at the astro department (or whoever is in charge of grad students) about who you are allowed to choose as an advisor and who can serve on the committee to ensure you can have the arrangement you want.
    Oh I guess I might have missed one thing. Who is the PI of this NASA grant? Is it the postdoc or the postdoc's advisor? If it's the postdoc then I think you really have not much to lose. Many assistant profs are hired after 1 postdoc and if the postdoc is a PI of a major NASA grant, they must be doing well and I think you aren't any better or worse off with this postdoc vs. a new assistant professor. 
    However, if the postdoc's advisor is the PI of the grant and they will be your actual on-paper advisor with the University, then I think what I said above still applies, except the timescale is longer now, which is great (however, the postdoc may be more likely to leave the institute and accept a job elsewhere than a new prof).
  23. Upvote
    GirtonOramsay reacted to TakeruK in Advice for a first year PhD student   
    I'm in a MSc program, but in Canada, everyone starts grad school as a MSc student, graduates, and then applies for PhD programs (which can be at the same or a different institution). I'm finishing up my second and final year now.

    First -- your question about time: It really depends on your program / department / research group / supervisor as well as your own goals in academia. For me, almost all of my research work can be done remotely (although I prefer to work in the office) so I really only need to go to school to attend class, TA, talk to my friends, attend seminars, and meet my supervisor. None of these things happen outside of 9-5 so I tend to stick to a 9-5 ish schedule and do extra work from home if necessary. I usually try to not do any "work" outside of 9-5 and not take my "work" home. However, I don't count course-work as "work" and I try to do that at home so it doesn't cut into research time too much. But if you work in, say, a chemistry lab, you might have stricter requirements as to when you need to be in the lab.

    Many of my friends in school have dogs. Some of them take a break in the middle of the day to go home and walk their dogs or see them, if they live close. I try to treat grad school as a "job" -- unless there are deadlines approaching, I don't feel bad leaving at ~5pm even if there is stuff left to be done since it will still be there tomorrow! I know this means I'm not working to my fullest potential, and I'm okay with that. I'm not aiming to be the best in my field, and I choose to have other priorities.

    Which comes to the second thing I want to say -- grad school is as much work as you want it to be. To use a cliche -- you will get out of it what you put in. So it's important to think about what you want to get out of your PhD program and then schedule your life accordingly! I think it's really important to budget your time and energy so that you don't neglect your priorities (whether it's courses, research, teaching, family, dogs, whatever). I think graduate school is hard enough even when you have a positive/healthy mindset, so maintaining whatever makes you happy is important.

    I got some advice from my mentors (previous supervisors) that I thought was really valuable. They said to pick your supervisor and project in a way that will help you get a post-doc job (if that is the goal after PhD). If so, your PhD project will be the strongest argument you have for yourself when you apply for jobs. Pick something that will be interesting to people ~5 years from now, don't work on a super specific field that only you or your supervisor cares about (instead, do these as side projects). You don't have to love your thesis topic, just don't hate it! Next, make sure your project contributes to the field in a meaningful way, so that ideally people will start to connect the concepts you are working on with your name.

    As for picking supervisors, my mentors told me that I should find someone who is a good mentor, not just a good researcher. We will need to trained in other skills such as how to write papers really well, how to apply for grants, how to give compelling presentations, how to get ourselves known. Many good researchers have these abilities but not everyone is good at teaching these abilities too. Also, if possible, find someone who will care about their students' success and will give us opportunities like attending conferences and so on. If you have an external scholarship and thus your supervisor may not pay you at all (or very little), it's common in the physical sciences to actually negotiate non-salary things like having a budget for travel or equipment, and so on. (Last piece of advice -- apply for external fellowships whenever possible, even if you are already funded by internal means. You probably won't get any more money, but you will get a lot more freedom and independence).

    Those were some of the important (in my opinion) things I've learned in the last 2 years as a graduate student and from many conversations with my mentors while applying for PhD programs for this fall! Hope that gives you some things to consider
  24. Like
    GirtonOramsay reacted to Mopar18 in "Let's just TALK about it..." Decision Edition   
    I'm not entirely sure how to decide. I seriously figured I would at best bat 1/7 but I have two offers and one visit invite. Still waiting to hear back from my top choice program.
    Somewhere deep down I was hoping I wouldn't have had to make a choice lol.
  25. Upvote
    GirtonOramsay reacted to seems_fair in Decision timelines for particular universities and programs derived from the gradcafe data + GRE/GPA distributions   
    Hi all.
    Tired of waiting for graduate committees’ decisions I estimated decision timelines myself based on gradcafe data. For each university and program in albums below you will find three graphs:
    Decision timeline as a cumulative sum of decisions (accept, reject, interview, waitlist) as a function of time between Jan 1 and May 1 for the last five years combined. Boxplots of GRE Q and GRE V for people who reported both scores. Histogram of GPAs (from 2.5 to 4.0 with 0.1 step).    
    Here is the list of programs I analyzed (some important notes below):
    Computer science PhD https://imgur.com/a/cXaEs 
    Computer Science MS https://imgur.com/a/u3joC 
    Electrical Engineering PhD https://imgur.com/a/ra3Eh 
    Electrical Engineering MS https://imgur.com/a/KUGrD 
    Economics PhD https://imgur.com/a/NzlYm 
    Economics MS https://imgur.com/a/JfgSk 
    Statistics PhD https://imgur.com/a/mB5UC 
    Statistics MS https://imgur.com/a/tXowL 
    Mathematics (applied and pure) PhDhttps://imgur.com/a/d0821 
    Chemistry PhD https://imgur.com/a/U5x91 
    Physics (applied and pure) PhD https://imgur.com/a/35tTy 
    Chemical Engineering PhD https://imgur.com/a/Tng2r 
    Literature PhD https://imgur.com/a/LDKpT 
    Anthropology PhD https://imgur.com/a/d5ub4 
    Bioengineering PhD https://imgur.com/a/RpTSD 
    Philosophy PhD https://imgur.com/a/ihoGS 
    Biology PhD https://imgur.com/a/FWhoD 
    How to use the graphs?
    I used this data to decrease my own misery. Now that I know decision timelines of universities and programs I applied to, I can refresh gradcafe less and concentrate on more useful stuff more. Also, it is interesting to explore differences between different universities/programs. For example, some universities do gradual accepts rejects/accepts and others do it in waves. Some programs start early (chemistry) and some — later (CS). Keep in mind, that there may be errors in my analysis so use this data at your own risk.  
    How reliable are timelines?
    I personally trust them (but I am biased). In general, it depends on curve shapes and available data. If there are more than 100 observations overall — I would consider that data to be pretty reliable. If there are characteristic ‘steps’ — it is a good sign because may indicate internal deadlines for waves of accepts/rejects. But the number of admissions/rejections records in the data is definitely inflated by question records (i.e. ‘to poster below: what program?”). I filtered some, but definitely not all of them. Also, bear in mind that department policies can change.
    How reliable are GRE/GPA?
    Somewhat reliable. There is noise, mistakes (i.e. switched Q/V) and self-report bias. For example, salty people with good scores may more likely report rejections and lucky people with low GPAs may less likely report accepts. But for some universities which publish admission statistics (for example, Duke), calculated GRE/GPA medians are pretty close to reported averages (I didn’t calculate means, sorry). Also, we can’t affect GPA/GRE right now, so it is mostly for entertainment.
    How did you do it?
    Scraped and parsed all gradcafe results. Selected all records from Jan 1 2013 to May 1 2017 and combined data for all years together, so all data is based on five year period. For each university and program in question I built a cumulative sum of decisions as a function of days since beginning of the year. For analysis of GRE I only chose records which included both Q and V scores. For analysis of GPA I used only 4-point scale grades and didn’t convert other scales to it (i.e. 10-point). Selection of universities/programs was done by regular expressions so there can be some noise added by incorrect parsing. For example, “University of Washington” may both mean Seattle and St. Louis. I tried to avoid it the best I could but there can be mistakes nonetheless. How did you choose universities/programs?
    Voluntarily, so there are a lot of omissions. Sorry, if your university/program is not there. Also, bear in mind that programs may overlap (for example ‘Computer Science’ and ‘Electrical Engineering’). Finally, I excluded uni/program from analysis if there were less than 30 observations.
    Will you share your code/data?
    I am thinking about it, but undecided yet.

    Hope it helps and good luck with the admissions!


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