What They Didn’t Teach You In Graduate School… The #phdchat Edition

What They Didn't Teach You in Graduate School

I finally wrapped up reading What They Didn’t Teach You in Graduate School during my #summerreading stint. This is the first edition and there is now a 2.0 update. This book is geared towards American doctoral students and academics; however PhD’s outside of the US might find value with these 199 academic hints.

There are a few good hints scattered throughout the book for budding academics and PhD students. Here are a few snippets from Gray and Drew (2008) geared for myself and other #phdchat comrades:

The PhD

  • Finish your PhD as early as possible.
  • You must finish your PhD to move up the academic ladder. The world is full of ABDs.
  • Be aware that the key danger point in any doctoral program is the one where you leave highly structure coursework and enter into the unstructured world of the qualification examiniation and the dissertation.

On Writing

  • Learn how to write clearly.
  • Limit self-plagiarism.
  • One of the most useful things you can develop is a pool of research references stored in your computer [or an online storage space of choice].

On Publishing

  • Submit your papers (other than those you know are stinkers) first to the best journals in the field.
  • Write most of your articles for refereed journals [not for conferences, meetings, etc.]
  • As they say in Chicago, publish early and often.
  • Include single-author papers in your portfolio.
  • Recognize the delays in publishing.

Appendix A – The Dissertation

  • Don’t assume that if you are having trouble defining a dissertation topic that the entire dissetation process will be that arduous.
  • Put a lot of effort into writing your dissertation proposal.
  • Be skillful in whom you select for your dissertation advisory committee.
  • In doing a literature search, use the “chain of references.” Begin with one or two recent articles (a survey article helps!). Look at the references that are cited.
Obviously Appendix A, The Dissertation, is on the forefront of my research this summer as I finish the last of my coursework this Fall. Reading this book provided some great insights and motivation to continue to push through. The book was bluntly written and I found it pretty helpful to read honest advice and expertise from other academics in the field. This book reminded me of previous conversations I have had with my own faculty advisor, Dr. Jeff Allen. For those of you who do not have a faculty advisor or another academic mentor in your life, you should read this… and probably find an academic mentor. Doctoral students need an advisor/mentor (or two) who will give us both a reality check and support as we embark on our academic life. Good luck with your journey!

 

Reference:

Gray, P. & Drew, D.E. (2008). What They Didn’t Teach You in Graduate School: 199 Helpful Hints for Success in Your Academic Career. Sterling, VA: Stylus Publishing, LLC.

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