Resources for Current Graduate Students (or Students Thinking about Graduate School)
(Image from FlowingData, which is a cool site about data visualization)
Graduate school was an extremely rewarding and enjoyable experience for me (although it came with its unique challenges and hurdles). Because of graduate school, I have a job that I love and have gained a new perspective on the world and how to better understand and enhance its interconnected processes and systems. Consequently, going to graduate school enhanced my life both professionally and personally. However, graduate school is not for everyone and, unfortunately, I know plenty of stories where graduate school did not work out so well. Deciding whether to attend graduate school and earn a Ph.D. is a big decision that should not be taken lightly. Thankfully, there are a lot of resources available on the internet to aid in making such a decision. Below are a few I found useful.
- Ph.D. Comics.
These comics are funny for a reason – specifically, because they represent many of the complexities and phenomenon that one experiences in graduate school.
- Flowing Data: A Survival Guide to Starting and Finishing a PhD.
This is a nice and realistic guide to a Ph.D. that includes some practical advice and some nice graphics.
- 6 Important Things Nobody Tells you About Graduate School. This is a light-hearted post about what’s so great about graduate school. Some gems in the article include:
- grad school entails “not teaching people what we already know, but learning how to learn what we don’t.”
- “Research is all about communicating results to other people” and “people who can communicate with others will still do better in every field.”
- In graduate school “you’re actively choosing to learn instead of making money.”
- “Academia can be the greatest place in existence. You’ve swapped the real world for a chance to learn what you love, always, using your brain instead of beating it to death against bar codes and spreadsheets and sales reports and all the other jobs that only exist because robots aren’t quite good or cheap enough yet. But if you don’t take that learning seriously, you’ve swapped the world for nothing.”
- Should I get a Ph.D.? This is a nice composition of question and answers from a variety of folks about the Pros/Cons of getting a Ph.D.
If you decide that graduate school is for you, here are some good resources about conducting research.
- What is Interesting Research in Operations Management?
This is a great essay in the INFORMS journal Manufacturing and Service Operations Management by Gérard P. Cachon on what is interesting research. Given you will spend an obnoxious amount of time on your dissertation and research, try to make it interesting.
- How to Build an Economic Model in Your Spare Time by Hal R. Varian is a great essay about developing models.
- How to Have a Bad Career in Research/Academia by Professor David Patterson provides some great and often surprising information for incoming graduate students.
- The Importance of Stupidity in Scientific Research by Martin Schwartz details how a life of research will make you feel stupid, and how that’s actually a good thing. A research problem, by definition, is one where nobody knows the answer (yet).
- How to be a better writer: 6 Tips from Harvard’s Steven Pinker. One of the most valuable skills I learned in graduate school is to be a most effective written communicator. This is crucial to being successful at graduate school, and beyond.