I am starting my PhD in october this year and was wondering if you guys could help me out with some questions I have so that my life doesn't get too difficult in the future:-).
1) What would you suggest new PhD students do after they have enrolled and from their first day?
2) How should the student handle his/her supervisors?
3) What do supervisors expect from the first year PhD students?
4) Is it easy to fail the first year and not progress to the second year? and what can be done to prevent this from happening?
I am sure I have more questions but would appreciate to hear what you guys have experienced so far.
I'll address #1. Imagine in the finish line from day 1. Your effort in something should reflect its importance for your thesis. Too often, I make the mistake of doing a half-assed job early on, just to realize that I'll use that information/graph/table/etc. many more times and should have done it right from day 1.
Also, use Endnote or some other referencing program from the beginning. This will save you lots of time.
Finally, time spent learning is never wasted. Taking a few days to read a textbook with relevant fundamentals will save you lots of time in the long-run, even if there's no tangible product immediately.
======= Date Modified 19 Apr 2009 19:08:51 =======
Did you see this thread: http://www.postgraduateforum.com/threadViewer.aspx?TID=10400
First, a BSc/MSc is a vast gulf away from a PhD. Treat your colleagues as you would want to be treated; be respectful, tactful and accept other people's points of view and priorities even though they may not be your own. Don't have unrealistic expectations (inculding yourself) and remember that everyone (even a supervisor) is human.
That covers points 1-3. 8-)
A good relationship with your super coupled to a good work ethic means you'll do fine during your first year.
Hi MH. I was in your position last September! I started my PhD in October last year and I'm currently writing up my first year report. With regards to your #1, I would suggest you take stock of the situation (so speak to your supervisor - hopefully they will appreciate that you are a little nervous etc) and start some reading. I can't emphasize how important it is to read early on because once you get into it you'll have very little time. I read about 2 papers per week and summerise them and file them away. #2 is tricky. As I mentioned with #1, hopefully s/he (your sup) is approachable. It makes things very easy if they are. Remember at the end of the day you are going to make them look good. You'll publish papers and they'll want in on it. Some supervisors can be very informal etc, whilst others will push you for deadlines. Mine does the latter, but I like it because she's obviously looking out for me. I don't think supervisors expect too much (my own experience), but I may be wrong. I think as long as you work hard then they'll be happy. The problems arise when you receive your stipend but never show up the lab (or wherever), and hence do no work). With regards to #4, I'll let you know in 4 months!
Hey Everyone! Just read your comments and found them very useful as I too am starting my phd in a few months! I am excited, nervous and a bit scared but your assurances have put my mind at ease! I am meeting my supervisor today, he seems really nice! My main worry however is contacting the leading academics/specialists in your field, do you find this is easy to do?
well I like it. It is a useful quide, on the research process and the approaches that can be taken, on chapters, including how to structure them, the planning that you need to do even before you start to write in earnest, relating the word count to the chapters you want etc. some of it is obvious...when you think about it, but you can easily get carried away and write loads with no direction. It gives a good foundation of the mechanics of the process and it is therefore good to read something like this before you start when you have a bit of time rather than when you have started. Once you have read it you can dip in when you need to so you can confirm you are keeping on track. That isn't to say you can't deviate from it, it isn't a 'do this or the whole thing is doomed' kind of thing, but you can make informed choices and it gives you a base to work from.
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