The end of another term has arrived! Though it seems that a lot of schools are out for break, a few of you probably still have your week full of sole-crushing final exams to look forward to. My heart goes out to all of you because I think we can all agree that test-taking kind of sucks and most feel they’re just not very good at it in the first place! However, I feel that test taking is an art that can definitely be taught. And once mastered, school definitely gets a lot easier.
When I applied to the NSF Fellowship the first two times, I was just in the midst of switching fields and starting grad school. As such, I didn’t have a research project, nor did I have any real knowledge of what kind of research was going on in my new field. So, when fellowship season came around and I was was asked to write a “novel” research proposal, I just about panicked. How would I ever come up with legitimate research question in a field I was unfamiliar with?
Now, one year later I am being forced to come up with research questions for candidacy–on topics not even related to my research! So, I thought it would be a good time to talk about how I’m planning on approaching this, in hopes that it might help some of you in similar predicaments.
Back in my senior year of college, I took a graduate class that required me to summarize one or two research articles a week. Though I absolutely hated it at a time (mostly because I hadn’t yet figured out how to read research papers yet), I found that it became an invaluable skill. What better way to make sure that you understand a research paper than condensing its many pages into a measly paragraph or two?
Another personal post? What is this? I guess I just have a lot of feelings going into my second year which apparently get written out at 2 AM when I’m home alone (which means this was written last week. So hello from past Krystal!) Don’t worry! There are some tips at the end and if you don’t want to read through all the narrative, feel free to skip straight there.
I’ve been feeling a giant lack of motivation lately in just about everything in my life. And this is bad…because I feel like I have a lot to do. I have to write. I have to figure out the next step in lab. I have to figure out what the hell this pile of data means. I have to sort of, kind of start thinking about candidacy. And I have to appear like I’ve made some sort of progress before I have a meeting with my boss in October. Yikes! It’s gotten to the point where I feel that if I keep feeling unmotivated like this–if i keep procrastinating–everything is just going to go to pure…shit, for lack of a better word. And shit is not what I want in my life right now. So, in a desperate effort, I’ve been trying to pinpoint the reason for all these negative feelings (and by pinpoint I mean lying on the floor, blasting angsty music in my hears wondering why the world hates me) and I think that I’ve finally narrowed it down.
I have been doing a lot of reading lately. A lot of reading. I’ve been scouring through the literature so I can have a solid foundation before/while I write my NSF fellowship proposal for this year…the last year I can apply. However, as I’ve been reading, I’ve noticed that my methods of going through my many, many piles of papers has changed since this time last year. Perhaps it’s because instead of reading just to read, I’m actually reading for information; to appear like less of a dumbass in my field. And because my methods have changed so much since the last time I wrote about this, I asked Tumblr if I wanted to see an updated version of this kind of post and I got an astounding:
So here we are…Again.
I shall note that the following tips are just what happens to work for me at this point in my academic career and I’m still modifying my methods as I go along (so stay tuned for next year?). This is probably a good reading technique if you’re just gathering background information, but may not necessarily work if you’re combing through methodology or doing anything more critical… Either way, I’m simply hoping that if anyone is struggling to read papers, this or last year’s post can at least provide good starting points in order to develop your own way of reading papers. Anyway, moving on!
I always thought that working from home is an art form. There have been many times where I wanted to be productive at home, yet these days are instead spent watching silly youtube videos or scrolling through Tumblr. You know, the complete opposite of what I’m aiming for. Go figure.
Unfortunately when you’re a student, sometimes working from home is a must. Whether you need to finish an assignment on the weekend or maybe need to concentrate on that paper you’ve been procrastinating, sometimes home might just be the best place to work in order to avoid the distractions of school and the office.
Oh hi there! I see you’re interested in applying to Caltech’s chemistry program. I’m assuming that you stopped by our Graduate Program Website before heading this way, but perhaps just got a bit overwhelmed with all the information university websites seem to throw at you and the various different links you have to click through to get any useful information… It’s okay. I felt the same way. That’s why I’m going to provide a more digestible version, with the addition of my own insight and advice I’ve formulated from my experiences thus far.
Last edited on 9/11/17.
Science is boring.
This is probably a phrase you heard at least once in your life. Most likely, it came from the mouths of those who didn’t particularly enjoy science or didn’t do well in science-related classes. It was a comment that us scientists (or soon-to-be scientists) were always quick to defend. Maybe a little too quick. Because regardless of who said it and in what tone it was said, I am a scientist and I’m here to tell you that I agree…science can be boring. In fact, more often than not, it kind of is. Continue reading
Art credit: Cindy Luo (Daily Trojan)
There wasn’t any doubt I would go to college one day. Learning was my past time. My passion. The sheer idea that I would someday be able to attend an institution dedicated to acquiring knowledge was like a dream come true. I couldn’t wait! But, honestly, if I was being completely truthful that wasn’t the full reason of why I wanted to go to college. After all, I could see right in front of me just how much more difficult life is for those who don’t have a degree. I didn’t want that life. I wanted something better.
What is an academic CV?
A CV (or curriculum vitae if you want to be fancy) is essentially a resume. However, unlike a resume it’s not typically a nice one page summary of your most recent skills and experiences. Rather, a curriculum vitae (meaning “course of life” in Latin) is a much more comprehensive document that gives an overview of all your academic accomplishments over the span of multiple pages. In general, CVs are most commonly used when searching for academic positions and should show a detailed summary of your professional experiences and educational background. This means including sections such as research opportunities, internship experiences, teaching appointments, etc.