***GRAD SCHOOL PRODUCTIVITIPS - MEGA THREAD***
After 6 years in grad school and 3 advisors here's what I learned @AcademicChatter @hapyresearchers @CouragePhD @PhdExhausted @OpenAcademics #phdchat #phdlife 1/24
1) Learn how to write well ASAP: Some people say that there's no need in learning how to write when starting your PhD because you don't have any data yet. But consider this – writing well takes years to learn, and even some more years to learn how to do it relatively well. 2/24
The way I see it, even if you don't write papers, you're constantly writing emails, and try to explain complex ideas in texts, and in conversations to colleagues, family etc. There are some ground rules for good texts in general, be it scientific or not (e.g., how to phrase 3/24
a sentence, how to write short and concise etc). Writing short is also extremely helpful when your advisor is super busy and might lose attention when reading long emails. I found @KristinSainani's @coursera course ("Writing in the sciences"), and 4/24
@sapinker's book ("Sense of Style") super helpful.
2) Good research questions = lots of reading: There's this notion that everyone around is some sort of super creative geniuses who can think of the best questions straight up (i.e., imposter syndrome). 5/24
This is rarely the case. If you're stuck with your research question or some other issue, most of the time this can be solved through reading more about your topic, or even about a similar issue in other fields. 6/24
The game here is finding the right keywords, which might take some detective work. After a certain amount of reading, it becomes relatively easy to identify gaps in the literature or maybe some super strong methods 7/24
(most of the time it becomes clear that nobody knows anything, which is good for us)
3) Make sure meetings have concrete goals: Time can be wasted waiting for the next meeting between you and your advisor, so you want each meeting to count. 8/24
This may sound obvious, but preparing a set of concrete goals for a meeting is crucial. This is most difficult when you start a project and have no clue about what's needed to be done and how. 9/24
In these cases, it's easy for meetings to just be about "brainstorming" which is a pretty abstract goal and might make them less efficient. If this is the case, make sure you know the issues you need to solve through this brainstorming, 10/24
and if there's any relevant literature that can help. 4) Learn when your advisor is most focused/ happy: It may sound funny, but make sure you know to set meetings when your advisors are at their peak to get the best out of your time. 11/24
Some people are more focused in the morning while others are not (as myself), so you can notice that and set meetings accordingly. Setting meetings after your advisors' coffee breaks is also a good idea. 12/24
5) Set expectations with your advisor for almost everything: The frequency of meetings, meeting time, your rate of progress, communication via emails (some advisors are bombarded with emails so they might prefer you to either send follow ups, 13/24
call them or send a message via whatsapp/slack). Also, some advisors expect you to learn things on your own, while others prefer to guide you themselves. In the former case it's always helpful to ask for good sources. 14/24
Regarding your own expectations, it helps to be as communicative as possible, for example: "I need to have this paper out by January in order to win this scholarship etc. 15/24
It might seem obvious to some, but it's super easy to always discuss specific projects/ tasks and never speak about these issues.
6) Make sure you track the papers you read via a table: 16/24
It gets super easy to forget what you've read and what was it about. I remember once I ran to my advisor with this super cool paper, only to find out I already emailed her the same paper two weeks ago. Some nice tips can be found here: raulpacheco.org/2017/04/how-to… 17/24
7) Always have time for motivated RAs: Some RAs are happy to learn more about what you do. Meeting with RAs just for the sake of them asking questions about the research was extremely helpful for me. Some have the brightest ideas, 18/24
but most of the time it is your chance to make a meaningful, direct impact on people's lives. It also helps meeting with people enthusiastic about research because it reminds you how you once were, and how actually enthusiastic about research you are 19/24
(which is easy to forget under a high workload)
8) Learn how to code for data analysis (esp. how to write functions): Coding your analyses is a very cool superpower. You can be super productive by having the syntax for all the analyses 20/24
of the paper before you even have collected all the data. Also, USE FUNCTIONS!!! It saves tons of time. Imagine you want to have figures, analyses and data cleaning for 10 similar experiments. You have to write the syntax for the analysis only once, and make a function 21/24
out of it. This way you can have everything you need for 9 experiments (!) in a matter of seconds. After learning this trick, I literally don't know what to do with all of that spare time 22/24 Image
9) Use automatic readers: During the COVID quarantines I had days just struggling to make myself read the enormous list of papers I had. When I discovered the automatic readers, it considerably changed my life. I could go over 4 papers a day instead of just 1. 23/24
Also, it allows you to go over papers in the bus/ train if you get a headache from reading while on the move like me. Also, If you're having trouble sitting for long, these can be extremely helpful. I recommend @Voice app, but you can use whichever you like 24/24
that's it! that's the tweet!
@PhDVoice @AcademicsSay @OdedRechavi don't know if relevant but I thought you might be interested

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More from @EmanuelAviv

Dec 2, 2020
New paper! People work harder closer to the end of tasks (“only 100m left to the finish line!”). Intuitively, this doesn’t make sense because people also get tired over time. Using brain-stimulation, we found a brain region involved in this behavior 1/9 authors.elsevier.com/c/1cAWV2VHXzzoJ
People usually get tired over time. For example, athletes run the second lap of a race slower than the first one, and students find it hard to concentrate during a long class. However, sometimes people also work harder over time - as they approach the end of their task. 2/9
This creates a U-shape pattern in effort over time – after the initial decrease in effort investment, there’s an increase towards the end of the task. Most neuropsychological studies used short-term tasks, so the underpinnings of this pattern are relatively unknown. 3/9
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