Stimulate Your Abstract Writing with These Creative Exercises

Stimulate Your Abstract Writing with These Creative Exercises

Writing an abstract is one of the most difficult pieces of writing you will do for your dissertation, but one of the most important. Your abstract needs to be both concise and descriptive, meeting the word count required by your style guide yet containing important keywords for those searching the abstract database.

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Life After Graduation for Graduate Students

Life After Graduation for Graduate Students

I recently wrote a blog post on how undergraduates should think about graduating and applying for graduate school. If you are an undergraduate and missed this blog post, take a look at the blog here. Now, I want to write to graduate students who are in the process of earning your Master’s degrees or Doctorate degrees. Read the following tips to learn what you should be doing now and over the next few semesters leading up to graduation.

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Life After Graduation for Undergraduate Students

Life After Graduation for Undergraduate Students

PhDStudent.com, is geared towards graduate students who are looking for tools and resources to help them do their best in grad school. However, I feel that it’s important to also write for undergraduates who are looking forward to applying for grad school. Read the following to learn about how to pace yourself throughout undergraduate school, whether you attend a community college or a 4-year university, and how to have the right mindset about life after graduation.

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New Year's Series: Making Resolutions Stick

New Year's Series: Making Resolutions Stick

Now that you are able to make resolutions (and good ones), it’s time to learn how to make those resolutions stick. It’s already the middle of January, so how are you doing with the resolutions you made a couple weeks ago? Have you already forgotten them, or are you surprising yourself by continuing with whatever you chose to improve this year? I hope you’re not already struggling with your 2014 goals and resolutions, but if you are, read the following tips so you can break your normal habit of dropping your resolutions so soon.

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New Year's Series: Making Resolutions with Substance

New Year's Series: Making Resolutions with Substance

As I mentioned in the introduction post to this series, you might automatically be drawn to some of the most popular types of resolutions at the beginning of the new year: lose weight, quit smoking, get out of debt, and exercise more. These resolutions all have great benefits, especially if you conquer them, however, seeing as this is a site for PhD students, I want to focus on the resolutions that will improve your work and study habits for school. Here are a few tips that can help you resolve to become better students in 2014.

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New Year’s Series: Making Doable Resolutions

New Year’s Series: Making Doable Resolutions

Would you call yourself an optimist or a pessimist? Do you view the glass half full or half empty? Do you like to dream big, or do you keep your dreams simple? I ask these questions because I want to express to you the importance of challenging yourself in a balanced way, especially when it comes to making New Year’s resolutions. What I mean by balancing your challenges is not to make them too simple but not to make them impossible, either. Challenges, goals, and resolutions should allow you to grow in ways that you haven’t experienced before, but they should also be doable. Read the following to learn more about resolving in the best way possible for 2014.

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New Year’s Series: Introduction

New Year’s Series: Introduction

How do you react when New Year’s comes around? Do you see it as just another passing year, or do you see it as a fresh start? I hope you see it as a chance to set some goals and improve yourself in whatever way you see fit. Whether you look forward to New Year’s or would rather not be reminded that you’re another year older, you’ll benefit from my next series about New Year’s resolutions and how to not only make them but also how to make them last.

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Contacting Committee Members During the Holidays: Dos and Don’ts

Contacting Committee Members During the Holidays: Dos and Don’ts

To continue with the subject of holiday breaks, I wanted to write about what could be seen as a touchy subject: contacting committee members during the holidays. Maybe you’re a person who is thinking, “Who would disturb their committee members during their well-deserved break?” Or maybe you’re a person who is thinking, “I plan to work on my dissertation during the holidays, so I expect my committee members to be available, too.” Whichever category you fall under, you will want to read my dos and don’ts of contacting committee members or professors during holiday breaks.

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What Should be on Your Christmas List?

What Should be on Your Christmas List?

As a graduate student, I know you have expenses that seem to come out of nowhere. From bookshelves to office supplies and learning tools, I have researched many popular gadgets that graduate students tend to need for their years in grad school. I divided them up by types of supplies, and I hope this blog will help you decide what should go on your Christmas list.

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Old friends they shine like diamonds...

Old friends they shine like diamonds...

One of the biggest differences i've noticed between being a postdoc versus my graduate student experience is that it's a lot harder to make new friends.  In grad school, I had a cohort of fellow students, bright and often like-minded individuals..  As a postdoc, you usually more or less on your own. 

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How to Not Overextend Yourself During the Holidays

How to Not Overextend Yourself During the Holidays

What do you do on holiday breaks? Do you veg out on the couch and watch movies, or do you not even realize you’re on a break because of how much work you’re doing? Maybe you’re someone who wants to please everyone by attending the parties, joining the trips, and visiting all the places to which you’re invited. Wanting to please everyone is already a difficult task, but the holiday season can make this even harder. Everyone wants to spend time with their closest family and friends, which is understandable; however, if you are a graduate student who plans to visit your hometown to spend time with extended family and old friends, you can feel stressed about not getting to do everything you want or getting to see everyone you want.

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On Holidays and Taking a Breather

On Holidays and Taking a Breather

It goes without saying that the holidays are fast approaching. Many different emotions run high during this time: happiness about breaks from school or work, depression about missing loved ones, and stress about hosting loads of people. Whatever holiday emotions you are experiencing right now, you are probably also feeling anxious about continuing your graduate and/or dissertation work through the holidays. This time of year is a good time to break away from your normal schedule and relax with friends and family, but it can also bring some understandable anxiety about meeting your goals. Here are a few tips that I hope will help you balance your relaxation time and your work time during this holiday season.

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Creating and Choosing Thesis Topics

Creating and Choosing Thesis Topics

Your thesis and dissertation are really the launching point to your academic career, so it’s important to choose the topic wisely.  It’s a long and hard journey to complete the dissertation, so it’s important to be interested and excited by the topic at the beginning.  Don’t just pick a topic so you can “just get done.”  The jobs of creating thesis topics and choosing thesis topics come with a few different tasks, but they tend to overlap with each other when you are deciding on what to write about for a year or more.  Here are a few of my tips about creating thesis topics, choosing thesis topics, and combining the two.

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Dr. Strangefonts, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love My Presentations.

Dr. Strangefonts, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love My Presentations.

I've lost count of the number of seminars, group meetings, and journal clubs where I have had to fight off sleep or frustration due to a bad presentation.  And I remember that sense of dread I had before and during some of my earlier talks, my stomach dropping as I saw puzzled looks, eyes glaze over and heads nod.  Thanks to a number of great mentors, I've learned a few easy changes to how I approach designing presentations, and now enjoy giving my presentations to any audience.  

Three takeaway points.  To fight going into too much depth, try to think of the three main takeaway points you would like your audience to take from your talk.   It doesn't have to be three, depending on your time/purpose, but the fewer the better.    

Think about it from your audiences perspective, and how you would like them to answer 'what was the talk about' in just a few sentences.  By focusing on a few broad themes, you can get these points across more easily difficult.   

Keep it simple.  This sounds obvious, but is some of the hardest part of communicating our work.  We are experts in our field, or at least on our way to being experts, and also are used to being precise; this leads to our natural inclination to try to explain everything in extreme detail.  You can simplify things to only include just enough detail to support this message.  Furthermore, make just one point per slide; if you have one graphic that has several points (e.g. a piece of data which you can draw several conclusions from) give each conclusion on an additional slide.  

When trying to communicate, we don't need to be as careful as we are in our writing. There may be experts in your audience who will want you to go into more depth on the details, but you can always keep a few slides in your pocket (e.g. at the end of your presentation) if these come up as questions after your talk.   

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4 Funding Options for Grad Students

4 Funding Options for Grad Students

Grad school has you wondering how you're going to pay for it all? Here are a few financial options, as well as their implications.

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