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Success as a Graduate Student and Scientist

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  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 Talk things through

  12. Problem areas in student - supervisor relationships (2) • Verbal abuse • Sexual harassment • ... Get advice (graduate coordinator, sexual harassment officer)

  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

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

  19. Success as a scientist

  20. Asking the right question • Balancing • Publishing • Networks with others • Jobs • Life style

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

  22. 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”

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

  24. 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 Tradeoffs Iterative submission

  25. Behavioural Sciences Behav. Ecol. Sociobiol.2.32 Behavioural Ecology 2.02 Animal Behaviour 1.79 Ethology 1.17 Behaviour 1.09 Cell Biology Cell 37.30 General Biology Proc. Roy. Soc. London, B 2.87 Evolutionary Biology 2.00 J. Experimental Biology 1.94 Polar Biology 1.36 Biological Bulletin 0.94 Ecology Trends Ecol. Evol. 6.67 Ecology 3.13 Journal of Ecology 2.83 Journal of Animal Ecology 2.80 Marine Ecol. Progress Series 1.92 Canadian Field Naturalist 0.22 Journal impact factors

  26. 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

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

  28. Irresponsible authorship • Divided publication (LPU) • Repetitive publication • Not publishing non-significant results

  29. General publication procedure

  30. 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]

  31. 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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  38. 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

  39. 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, ...