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Being a PhD student: Experiences and Challenges


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These slides provide some guidance to the prospective PhD students. The content reflects my personal experiences together with useful feedbacks I received from my colleagues/friends.

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Being a PhD student: Experiences and Challenges

  1. 1. Being a PhD Student: Experiences and Challenges Faegheh Hasibi March 16, 2016
  2. 2. PhD machine
  3. 3. PhD machine
  4. 4. You are the engine Take the responsibility and carry on
  5. 5. Research process Read Experiment Publish Networking
  6. 6. Time (#semester) Reading,confusion Start early … Do not waste time in
 early years Find your research topic
 M. Shokouhi. “Recipes for PhD”,
  7. 7. Research topic • Find a common ground between 
 you and your supervisor’s interest • Not too mature area • Not too immature area • Trendy area M. Shokouhi. “Recipes for PhD”,
  8. 8. Reading
  9. 9. Read high quality papers • Read papers from top venues in your field • Read papers of top researchers in your field • Follow the citations and read the related papers Write a summary for each paper M. Shokouhi. “Recipes for PhD”,
  10. 10. Use a reference manager Only for writing in
 Latex/Word Reading, annotating,
 sharing, organizing
  11. 11. Experimenting
  12. 12. Experiments • Start with easy and incremental ones • Be accurate and avoid making careless mistakes • Create reliable and reproducible results
  13. 13. Document Document Document Document Document • Keep a log of all results you get • Write neat and documented code Ben Hamner When you write code, keep in mind that 
 you're collaborating with your future self.
  14. 14. Back up • Use a version control tool • Bitbucket/ Github are your friends
  15. 15. Publishing
  16. 16. Publishing • Start publishing early • Target a conference • Now you have a deadline! • Plan ahead • Last minute papers are more likely to be rejected
  17. 17. Writing style Take papers from the past years …, and “copy” • It is not about plagiarism • Quality papers are similar in their 
 writing style, structure,
 terminology, methodology, … ✗ S. Lia-Jonassen. “Ten things I wish I knew before starting on a PhD”,
  18. 18. Be persistent and keep pushing! Paper acceptance factors Low acceptance rates ~20% 33% 33% 33% Novelty Presentation Luck S. Lia-Jonassen. “Ten things I wish I knew before starting on a PhD”,
  19. 19. Networking
  20. 20. At your group • Join the coffee breaks • Talk about your research with your colleages
  21. 21. At the conferences • Mingle with other PhD students (future colleagues) • Do not be shy • Help others to network and get helped! • Talk to professors
  22. 22. Research visit • Choose the right time to go abroad • Early: Spending time on learning • Late: Focus on publishing
  23. 23. Find a research group • Ask your supervisor • Meet at a conference • Apply for an internship • e.g., Microsoft, Google, …
  24. 24. To make it productive… • Go with a clear plan • Keep in touch beforehand • Discuss about the plan/paper ideas
  25. 25. Research process Read Experiment Publish Networking
  26. 26. General advices
  27. 27. Meetings • Have an agenda for the meeting • What you did since the last meeting • Questions you would like to discuss • Take note of all the next action items • Keep minutes of all the meetings
  28. 28. Research-related activities • Become a reviewer • Mentor master students • If possible, do some teaching
  29. 29. Keep an eye out! • Attend NTNU courses • • Attend summer schools • Learning, networking, fun • Find the news channel • Twitter, Mailing list, …
  30. 30. Life “outside” PhD Being in the same group is more than 
 being in the same mailing list! Photos by Jan R. Benetka