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Balance between one's own research project and the coursework?


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Hi everyone,

I am a second year PhD student in sociology. I am wondering how much weight we should give to our own research project and the grad level coursework. I have heard different views. Some told me that GPA in grad school does not matter, what's important is that we publish. I have seen people in other Social Science departments publish a paper just after the 1st year in grad school and have multiple work in progress. However, in my program, I feel the professors are really expecting us to perform well in their classes. As a sociology grad student, we are required to actively participate in classroom discussions in sociological theories. (most of the courses introduce us to the theoretical staff but not cutting edge research). Moreover, my peers are also very competitive in class and seem to spend a lot of time on studying. 

Currently, I spent most of my time on coursework and TA work (and I have got sick for the stress of doing well in courses). I am really worried about the fact that I am not progressing on any research. Am I doing the right thing - to prioritize coursework rather than research? 

Thank you so much! 

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Any chance you can talk to more senior students in your department about how to juggle coursework and research, and what is expected of you? As rising_star suggested, one thing I did was use my coursework as an opportunity to advance some of my research. In my program, in the first year the focus was very much on  coursework, and only in the second year did it start to shift. But once it did, I was encouraged to submit parts of the same project I was working on as final papers for classes, as opposed to writing something new that was unrelated. I also tried to use my coursework to read relevant things. Also important -- at some point I resigned to doing work that was just "good enough" but not great for courses that weren't going to directly contribute to my work. I just realized that at some point something had to give, and better it be the coursework than the research. 

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