12 Matching Annotations
  1. May 2021
    1. “minimum viable paper” (MVP) – similar to the corporate world’s minimum viable product

      Using the idea of a "lean" Ph.D. one should aim to create a minimum viable paper and then work towards refining and improving it over time with constant feedback from one's advisor.

    2. In preparing a thesis, we suggest there are, in essence, two strategies regarding formal publications. The first entails writing nothing at all until all research is complete. This is the more expedient approach because writing a thesis demands a lower standard of quality than a journal paper. Of course, some programmes require a certain number of publications before graduation, but these should be completed only as necessary. If possible, write conference papers, rather than journal papers, because they require less substantial content and are vetted less rigorously. The second approach is to view each potential thesis chapter as a journal paper. These papers are written and submitted as the various stages of the work are completed. The papers are, in essence, combined to form the thesis. This results in a higher-quality thesis that has been vetted by experts in the appropriate field. However, writing papers takes time, and this is time spent prior to graduation.

      There are two strategies for publications:

      • Write nothing until the research is complete, it's more expedient because a thesis demands a lower standard than a journal paper. Conference papers are a lower bar than journal papers.
      • View each potential thesis chapter as a journal paper, though remember that this may take more time.
    3. In viewing academia as a business, you should always give customers what they want, and this applies on two levels. First, always consider the demand for the research product. This is much easier said than done. Anyone can acknowledge that the customers are always right, but truly listening to them and extracting what they need is difficult, especially if you have your own personal desires with respect to the product (in this case, the research). Talk to the funding customer constantly. Second, most students are, in effect, employees, and the adviser is a boss who doubles as a customer. In some respects, your adviser will provide your pay cheque, or at least govern it. Thus, do what the customer requires. In addition, always consider your audience when writing and presenting. In the case of a thesis, the audience is your adviser and committee. Again, talk to the customers constantly.
    4. Anyone who treats research as a business tends not to be well received in academia, but they likely have the funding necessary to drive advances, and they may eventually be wealthy.

      There can be clear benefits to treating academia like a business.

    5. it is more efficient not to have to worry about funding, so aim to work only on a project for which a grant has already been awarded.

      Funded projects are going to be easier to work on and complete more quickly.

    6. Towards the end of a graduate career, it can show academic maturity to suggest new ideas and research directions. However, do not pursue these ideas without first extracting input from an adviser because doing so risks unsuccessful work and unnecessary criticism.

      Get advice before bivouacing out on your own, otherwise you risk wasting unnecessary time.

    7. meet with your adviser at least every other week and to take notes during each meeting. If appropriate, remind the adviser what tasks were discussed previously, what has been achieved and what will be completed next. Do this consistently and regularly. But beware. The direction you receive from week to week may change, and memories can be short for academics juggling teaching, research, publications and administration.

      meet with your advisor, create notes, lists, and remind them about past conversation/performance.

    8. There can be little room for initiative in graduate research. This third guideline contradicts what academia is supposed to embody traditionally, but it represents a turn that academia has taken in some respects. It can be more efficient simply to ask “What is the minimum necessary effort required to achieve the goal?” rather than “What is the maximum one can contribute while pursuing the goal?”

      minimize, minimize, minimize

    9. minimise your teaching obligations

      Figure out a way to minimize your teaching obligations so you can focus time on your reading/reasearch.

    10. Then, do not simply look for a famous mathematics or history professor, for example; look for someone who has extensive experience studying your specific topic of interest. No matter how intelligent and renowned advisers are, the less familiar they are with your specific topic, the more effort you will have to expend teaching them about it. An adviser with experience in a field slightly different from that of your intended area of study may offer a unique perspective, may ask helpful questions, and may inadvertently require clarity in presentation. But this will inevitably cost time.

      Find a good advisor who is well-versed in your specific topic of interest to minimize the amount of time you need to spend teaching them about your specific area.

    11. two distinct paths to success have emerged, and students should decide early in their graduate school careers which path to travel. Is their primary objective to obtain a degree as expediently as possible, or is it to learn? These two goals are not always mutually exclusive, and with genuine curiosity and perseverance, independent learning is possible. However, the path for obtaining a degree ­efficiently is not obvious, and the guidelines in this regard can be elusive, unspoken and often unrealised.