Resources For PhD Students Are Not Scarce, If You Know Where To Look

Resources for graduate students
By Liz Renner
February 19, 2015

Have you ever noticed that people love to give advice? I am no exception! In this post I am going to share links to resources that can be useful to graduate students. Although a significant part of graduate school is finding your own path, there’s no rule against learning from others who have gone before. Each student has different needs based on hir1 topic, project, or field. Luckily, broadly relevant resources are not difficult to access, as long as you know where to look.

Figure 1.  Liz Renner loves giving (and receiving!) advice.

Of course your advisor is an essential resource in helping you navigate the demands of graduate coursework and research. Zie will provide you with training and networking opportunities, and hopefully other types of support. But when your advisor is busy, or asleep, or mentoring hir other graduate students, you still might have pressing issues that need to be resolved. This is where the internet comes to the rescue. The sites collected here help you network, find important field-specific information, apply for grants, learn about the job market, and spend a few minutes of down time. and are sites where academics in many fields can keep track of their own and their colleagues’ publications, affiliations, and skills. You can create a profile for yourself, search for colleagues, and learn of recent publications (this is especially helpful if you discuss recent research in lab meetings or journal clubs). When you have a profile, other researchers can find you easily. If you start building your profile while still in graduate school, you won’t have to scramble to create one as you search for or begin employment in academia. These sites are not like certain other players in social media that can steal time from the unwary: they are fairly and therefore fairly efficient for achieving a specific purpose when you need to.

At various points in graduate school, you may want to find field-specific information about upcoming conferences, funding opportunities, or jobs. Professional societies, such as the AAPA for physical anthropologists, ASP for primatologists, or APS for psychologists, host annual field-specific conferences and workshops. In addition, they often make or catalog funds available for graduate student research and advertise job openings in the field. These may be obvious places to look, but few students fully utilize the resources that a membership in a professional society can bring.

As graduation approaches, you will prepare to enter the academic job market. Although you are a smart and capable graduate student, you will naturally want to maximize your academic fitness, and will therefore seek further information about how to successfully apply for jobs. Many job seekers frequent a website run by a former tenured professor who is now a consultant, The Professor Is In. At her blog, The Professor dispenses advice about cover letters, writing grant proposals, interviews, and many other topics. If you don’t want to pester your advisor or the postdocs you know about details like whether your cover letter should be on departmental letterhead, this is a good place to look.

And after all this serious work, if you just need to kill a few minutes while you wait for your experiments to run or your, you can point your browser to PhD Comics or What Should We Call Grad School for a few minutes of light-hearted diversion. (Note to my own advisor: this paragraph is based purely on hearsay.)

Figure 2: Liz Renner doing research for this blog post.

Obviously I have just barely scratched the surface of the many resources people use during graduate school. Various helpful websites are so abundant, it may be difficult to sift through them to find the most valuable ones. After all, you do have a few other things on your plate (like coursework, or finishing your dissertation). But scoping out these resources early in your graduate studies will save you time later, when you are urgently seeking information. Knowing that you already know where to look will help you stay cool and collected. And when younger students come to you (the cool, collected older student) asking for help, you will know where to point them. Don’t you just love giving advice?

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