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4 Years in 15 Minutes (Or The Origin of My Thesis)
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4 Years in 15 Minutes (Or The Origin of My Thesis)


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  • The first most important thing about a PhD is your supervisors.
  • Simon, Sean and I get on just fine. Disagree occasionally - usually about something trivial. Retell story of Liz as a 1st year who looked horrified when I stood there and discussed things with Simon. Supervisor may leave. May hate each other. School can help out when things don’t go to plan.
  • Every supervisor is different but will recommend seeing supervisors regularly. Every week/fortnight.
  • Essential part of your time here. Write for everything - technical reports, conferences, posters, journals, thesis, COMP7100
  • Takes ages to learn how to write. Still not great at it. Don’t be discouraged from feedback - both supervisors and reviewers. Just learn from that and use it next time.
  • Don’t use Word. Retell Story of Paul’s printing fiasco with 5 days to go. Write as you go. More coherent, don’t spend time trying to pull everything together, more thorough. Helps clear your thoughts - Had to write up coping strategy stuff for Sean and Simon. Can be a downer but learn from it. Not just writing but other places too. Tell story of I sound like Terry Christian. And mailing list criticism.
  • Research group can be used to good effect
  • Research groups have skills you can draw upon. Dabbled in ontologies so asked Uli. Dabbled with statistics so asked Caroline. Conundrum. You work alone so don’t know who does what in the group. This leads to you spending time learning things when you could just ask. This leads to longer days. Eventually everything crashes and burns.
  • Worked from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 a.m. at one point. Definitely not productive. Uli informally helped with ontologies. Kill two birds with one stone
  • You are part of a community. Be an active part of that community. People get to know you and your work. You get to know what’s going on.
  • Also guest speaker at COMP7000 (CS700) and faculty, Journal review group and HCW Server maintenance. Too much to do in conjunction with PhD work. good to get involved though.
  • Good to get known and to get people to know you. Don’t take on too much. That was my biggest error and meant I had lots to do in third year.
  • Hard but an experience. Rewarding especially when you finally hand in the thesis. Been here for over 4 years and no regrets.

  • Transcript

    • 1. 4 Years in 15 Minutes (Or The Origin of My Thesis) Darren Lunn Information Management Group
    • 2. Summary • Doing a research degree is hard • From experience: - Meet your supervisor regularly - Write as much as possible - Know your research group - Know your research community • A PhD can be rewarding 2
    • 3. Supervisor(s) 3
    • 4. A Marriage Made In Heaven • Most of the time you’ll get on • Sometimes there will be disagreements • Occasionally ends in “Divorce” 4
    • 5. With Hindsight • Do meet regularly • Do prepare for supervisor’s meetings 5
    • 6. Writing 6
    • 7. The Joy of Text • Writing takes practice • Youless thancomments and feedback that are will get positive • Most peoplesecondpublish anything as first author until don’t year 7
    • 8. With Hindsight • Do use LaTeX • Do write up as you go along • Don’t take bad reviews personally 8
    • 9. Research Group 9
    • 10. A Vicious Cycle of Isolation • Research Group has knowledge you can draw upon • Most of your work will be done in isolation • Hard to know who does what in the group • Work longer - Learn periphery stuff - Then do research stuff 10
    • 11. With Hindsight • Do take breaks with your research group • Do get to know your group members • Don’t work 18+ hour days 11
    • 12. Research Community 12
    • 13. Get Involved (If Practical) • Examples of involvement: - Contributing to forums/mailing lists - Become a member of a special interest group - Review papers • People know what you do and vice versa • Easier to strike up conversations when you finally meet other researchers in the field - Conferences - Workshops 13
    • 14. With Hindsight • Do get involved in community activity - Mailing Lists - Special interest Groups (eg ACM, IEEE) • Don’t over-commit yourself 14
    • 15. Conclusion • Doing a research degree is hard • A PhD can be a rewarding experience 15
    • 16. References • Eleni Michailidou - Photographs (Slide 3, 9 and 12) • Ulrike Sattler - Photographs (Slide 9) • Bijan Parsia - Photographs (Slide 9) • PhD Comics ( - Cartoons (Slide 1, 5, 6, 8, 11, 14 and 15) 16
    • 17. Questions?