A few days ago I was asked by some last year students advice on how to decide whether doing a PhD is the right thing to do. I will put here a summary of what I told them, just in case it can be useful for someone else.
🧵 1/
[Disclaimer: What follows are personal opinions based on STEM disciplines in Europe. So this is a partial and (by definition) incomplete picture.
Also, I am assuming you like the subject you want to do a PhD in, and that you can find a supervisor who is not a sociopath.]
During a PhD you will tackle one or more problems/questions that no one has a answer for. This is dramatically different from what you have ever done at Uni, where all problems had a solution somewhere.
Your supervisor probably has experience in the field, so might have some clue and have made some educated guesses. But they don't have an answer. They probably don't even truly understand the question. So this is going to be a learning experience for both of you.
Nobody knows exactly what you should do to answer the question, so the vast majority of what you will try will turn out to be a dead end.
Doesn't matter how good/smart you are, you will spend the vast majority of your time failing to solve the problem.
So the question you should ask yourself is: "do you like the process of learning from your mistakes?"
If you enjoy the process of discovery, then you are probably the right person for a PhD.
If failing frustrates the hell out of you, you are not.
In the end it doesn't truly matter who you are, what your background is, how cool was the Uni you studied at etc.
If you have no problem accepting you don't know, and like learning a ton of new stuff from your failures, you are the right person for a PhD 🙂

• • •

Missing some Tweet in this thread? You can try to force a refresh

Keep Current with Jacopo Bertolotti

Jacopo Bertolotti Profile picture

Stay in touch and get notified when new unrolls are available from this author!

Read all threads

This Thread may be Removed Anytime!


Twitter may remove this content at anytime! Save it as PDF for later use!

Try unrolling a thread yourself!

how to unroll video
  1. Follow @ThreadReaderApp to mention us!

  2. From a Twitter thread mention us with a keyword "unroll"
@threadreaderapp unroll

Practice here first or read more on our help page!

More from @j_bertolotti

14 Jun
I am experimenting with recording lectures for the coming term.
Here I will make a summary of how it went in (semi)real-time. Wish me luck 😰
First experiment was (as expected) a disaster.
What was supposed to be a 10min video was over 20min long, with me mumbling, mispronouncing half of the words, and in general being too worried about recording to remember to explain anything. 😭
I was definitively optimistic on how much stuff I can fit in 10 minutes. Will need to rethink how I cut the lectures into videos.
Read 10 tweets
6 Aug 18
Moving all the old Physics factlects to the same hashtag to make easier to find them. As Twitter does not allow me to edit my tweets, I need to repost all of them. Apologies if this floods your timeline.
#Physicsfactlet (1)
The uncertainty principle is not a principle, it is a theorem. Just like the Pauli exclusion principle and many others. It was a principle when it was first formulated, but we have since realised that it can be derived from first principles.
#Physicsfactlet (2)
There is nothing quantum in describing particles as waves. In fact one can rewrite the whole Newtonian mechanics as a wave theory without changing any result or prediction. (See Hamilton-Jacobi formalism)
Read 26 tweets

Did Thread Reader help you today?

Support us! We are indie developers!

This site is made by just two indie developers on a laptop doing marketing, support and development! Read more about the story.

Become a Premium Member ($3/month or $30/year) and get exclusive features!

Become Premium

Too expensive? Make a small donation by buying us coffee ($5) or help with server cost ($10)

Donate via Paypal Become our Patreon

Thank you for your support!

Follow Us on Twitter!