We tend to have one project and no side projects. You will be expected to develop a deep, hands-on understanding of several techniques. You may sometimes get help from a technician, but only if you’ve already performed the method in question. Goals: at least one exciting discovery leading to a really good publication, a PhD thesis you are proud of, and lots of fun working in our team-spirited group.
These things may help you :
1. Read before you write
You will write your thesis and much of your research papers. Read at least two papers per week in a quiet environment e.g. at home. Develop this habit from the beginning - it’s vital throughout a research career and it will make writing easier.
2. Get advice
Interact with more experienced people. Postdocs and PIs who read widely and like discussing science will help you, but they are busy and you must win their confidence. Go to the most relevant scientific conferences and meet the experts in your field. Be somewhat wary of people who give confident advice but don’t have any relevant publications.
Question your project and your supervisor. Try to formulate the questions that underlie all your experiments. Ask questions at seminars, and sit near the front to make this much easier. Get noticed by PIs.
Nothing can substitute for concentrated thinking without email alerts, music and social media. Learn to spend some time each month thinking deeply about your work.
5. Live well
People of all professions tend to work long hours including over the weekends. Don’t work every weekend. Keep a balance, take time out.
Hints for finishing the thesis on time
- Keep a good lab book: Goals, results and conclusions. Do the stats after each experiment.
- Whenever you have enough data, make final versions of figures and legends.
- Write all your Materials and Methods while doing the relevant experiment, never at the end of the thesis.
- Once a year or so, force Ted to discuss the organization of chapters.
- Take useful courses that cover your weak points (stats?). Also choose one or two for fun.
At the end of the thesis
Thinking about doing a postdoc? If during your PhD you found it hard to work long hours, or if deep down you feel you can’t get deeply into techniques, then ask yourself seriously if you wish to continue along the academic route. For industry, you will be judged on your publications and your potential management skills. It’s generally easier to get to industry at the end of a thesis rather than after being a postdoc. Contact past lab members for advice.