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Success as a Graduate Student and Scientist Hal Whitehead BIOL5700.

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Presentation on theme: "Success as a Graduate Student and Scientist Hal Whitehead BIOL5700."— Presentation transcript:

1 Success as a Graduate Student and Scientist Hal Whitehead BIOL5700

2 What do you want as a graduate student? Outcomes The duration

3 What do you want as a graduate student? Outcomes –Degree (MSc or PhD) –Experience of what it is to be a scientist –Papers (patents, …) –Skills –Contacts (supervisor, committee, others, …) –...

4 What do you want as a graduate student? The duration –enjoy research –interesting project –reasonable life style –….

5 Success as a graduate student Independence Resources Project Papers Supervisor Gaining skills and experience Read, read, read Staying broad and out of the rut Making yourself known Balancing life and work

6 Independence It is largely up to you –you are being trained to be independent scientists But get advice –supervisor –supervisory committee –other faculty –post-docs –other students –people at other institutions –technicians –...

7 Resources Find out what resources are around –people, equipment, software, data bases Ask, beg, borrow, persuade supervisor to buy,...

8 Project The right size –ca 2 publishable papers for MSc –ca 4 publishable papers for PhD Time feasible Flexible Challenging--you learn things High risk, high reward vs low risk, low reward –perhaps mixture is ideal What to do when something does not seem to be working? –Persist, modify, drop? Project should interest you

9 Papers Refereed journal papers are the currency of science “Science is not science doing unless published” Published (or “in press”) papers count as knowledge Get you, and your supervisor –status –jobs –scholarships and post-doctoral fellowships –research money Publishing can be difficult, frustrating and time- consuming (soul-destroying?!) Do you owe your supervisor papers? Anyway, publish!

10 Managing your supervisor Find out what supervisor expects in areas such as work hours, writing style, contribution to other projects –by asking supervisor or other members of lab. –observing Discuss any mismatches with supervisor Try to fulfill expectations (or go beyond!) –discuss problems Supervisory style can be changed –“hand holding” occasional advice Give and you will receive (usually!)

11 Problem areas in student - supervisor relationships (1) Supervisory style Work hours, time off, holidays –produce! Authorship Scientific disagreement Ethical disagreement Direction of research Not following advice Lack of assistance (delays in critiques,…) Help in other projects

12 Problem areas in student - supervisor relationships (2) Verbal abuse Sexual harassment...

13 Gaining skills and experience Graduate school is an ideal opportunity to learn skills as part of your thesis work, or otherwise –computer skills –lab techniques –field experience –…–… Side projects Help other students Teaching

14 Read, read, read,... Science is cumulative Avoid mistakes of others Don’t reinvent the wheel Get ideas –especially those that cross areas What to read? –Specialized in your area (new papers) –Broad review papers (“Trends in …”,…) The most successful graduate students read the most widely

15 Staying broad and out of the rut (especially for PhD students) Seminars Discussion groups –arrange if necessary Lab. meetings Conferences Read!

16 Making yourself known Talk about your research whenever possible: –Practice –Confidence –Feedback –Develops network Seminars, conferences, lab. meetings,...

17 Balancing life and work Have a life, outside research! Virtually all graduate students have crises of confidence Breaks, switches or routine work can help you through Other graduate students are enormously helpful –practical help and advice –emotional help and advice –benchmarks

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19 The most successful graduate students… Enjoy their research (generally) Read widely Think broadly Like challenges Work hard Publish Have doubts, meet roadblocks, make mistakes…

20 Success as a scientist

21 Asking the right question Balancing Publishing Networks with others Jobs Life style

22 Success in science is largely about asking the right question Think Read Discuss Make links between areas

23 Balancing research Pure / Applied Broad / Narrow Money driven / Money using –Much science is done primarily to bring in money –Most research costs money Ethics –Doing science the way you would like to do it –Doing science the way you can do it Risky / Safe –Exciting, but unlikely to work –“The same old stuff”

24 Publication Do study Choose journal Authorship Write draft Get comments Rewrite Submit … (Aghhhh!!!)

25 Choosing a journal Status (journal impact factor) Likelihood of acceptance –acceptance rate? Speed (weeks to years) Suitability of subject –similar papers published by journal?, read instructions to authors Suitability of paper –length, complexity, review, experimental? Will it be read by the right people? –society journal? –accessabiity (open access?) Editorial practices Cost (page charges) Probable reviewers Country of publication

26 Journal impact factors Behavioural Sciences –Behav. Ecol. Sociobiol –Behavioural Ecology 2.02 –Animal Behaviour 1.79 –Ethology 1.17 –Behaviour 1.09 Cell Biology – Cell General Biology –Proc. Roy. Soc. London, B2.87 –Evolutionary Biology2.00 –J. Experimental Biology1.94 –Polar Biology1.36 –Biological Bulletin0.94 Ecology –Trends Ecol. Evol.6.67 –Ecology3.13 –Journal of Ecology2.83 –Journal of Animal Ecology2.80 –Marine Ecol. Progress Series1.92 –Canadian Field Naturalist0.22

27 Authorship Each author should have participated sufficiently in the work to take public responsibility for the content. This participation must include: a) conception or design, or analysis and interpretation of the data, or both; b) drafting the article or revising it for critically important intellectual content; and c) final approval of the version to be published. Participation solely in the collection of data does not justify authorship. International Commission of Medical Editors 1985

28 Order of authorship Often contentious and difficult Equal, unequal contributions? First is special? Last is special?

29 Irresponsible authorship Divided publication (LPU) Repetitive publication Not publishing non-significant results

30 General publication procedure

31 1. Choose journal –send abstract to editor if uncertain about suitability 2. Submit paper 3. Editor either:[~2 weeks] –returns as unsuitable (=> 1.), or: 3. Sends to reviewers (usually 2-3) [~2-4 months] 4. Editor either:[~2 weeks] –rejects (=> 1., or argue with editor) –suggests resubmission (revise, => 2.) –provisionally accepts (revise, => 4.) –accepts 5. Send in final version 7. Copyediting, typesetting [week to months] 8. Check galleys 9. Published (online earlier?)[weeks to months]

32 Networks in science Much biology these days is collaborative –depends on networks Types of networks –forced, top-down research councils, institutions –organic, bottom-up collaborations as situations arise shared labs, previous students, students together,... meetings at conferences interest in each others’ work

33 Jobs for biologists with graduate degrees Academic –Post-Doc (X2,…?) –Assistant Professor –Associate Professor with tenure –Professor Government Industry Non-profit groups Consulting Museum curator Teaching (high-school, college, …) Media... MSc PhD

34 Importance of publications Academic –Post-Doc (X2,…?) –Assistant Professor –Associate Professor with tenure –Professor Government Industry Non-profit groups Consulting Museum curator Teaching Media... MSc PhD

35 Approximate stress levels Academic –Post-Doc (X2,…?) –Assistant Professor –Associate Professor with tenure –Professor Government Industry Non-profit groups Consulting Museum curator Teaching Media... MSc PhD

36 Relative salaries Academic –Post-Doc (X2,…?) * –Assistant Professor ** –Associate Professor ** with tenure –Professor *** Government **** Industry ***** Non-profit groups * Consulting ** Museum curator ** Teaching ** Media **... MSc + PhD +

37 Job security Academic –Post-Doc (X2,…?) –Assistant Professor ** –Associate Professor ***** with tenure –Professor ***** Government *** Industry ** Non-profit groups *** Consulting * Museum curator **** Teaching **** Media ?... MSc PhD

38 Control over work and life Academic –Post-Doc (X2,…?) Varies –Assistant Professor **** –Associate Professor ***** with tenure –Professor ***** Government * Industry Non-profit groups * Consulting ** Museum curator *** Teaching ** Media ?... MSc ** PhD ***

39 Balancing science and personal relationships Academics have rather little choice about location May be hard to find two academic jobs in same place –especially if in same field Easiest if partner has flexible, portable profession Partner in same field has advantages, disadvantages Having kids –easiest when in stable, low stress position e.g. associate professor, government job –possible at other times, especially with flexible partner

40 Life as a scientist Must make compromises The excitement of discovery and exploration Many types of scientist with many life styles Can lead to other work –administration, teaching,...


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