How to Tame Your PhD
by Inger Mewburn; 122 pages
Inger Mewburn PhD, AKA @thesiswhisperer, will be familiar to many of you from her great advice on the excellent blog The Thesis Whisperer. This book compiles more than 20 posts from the blog into a single volume, preserving her inimitable chatty and informative style. Inger has excellent credentials for writing this book, having finished her own dissertation on the gestures used by architects in just 3 years!
The structure of the book closely follows the journey of writing a dissertation, without feeling mechanistic. There is lots of fantastic help plus ideas to get you through each stage, backed up by full references. One great advantage of the e-book format is that you can follow the links to explore a subject in further detail.
I really like the points where Inger explains how your feelings are related to your progress along the PhD track, and don’t necessarily reflect your overall ability! So if you’re feeling confused, that’s because you haven’t gone through the ‘threshold’ yet (I could definitely relate to that). And I recognise this feeling about my own writing even now: ‘The first time you put down your ideas, they will always look stupid.’ Yes, and that’s where a writer needs to be patient, and develop their ideas through reflection and feedback.
Whatever stage you’re at in your PhD, you’ll get great value from this book, as the price is so very low and the standard of advice is so very high!
17 Simple Strategies to Survive Your PhD
by Julio Peironcely
E-book; 35 pages; available to download from Next Scientist.
Julio Peironcely PhD, AKA @nextscientist, is another blogger with an e-book – and this one is free! The e-book is really a collection of a short one or two page articles, which makes it great to dip in and out of. Although aimed at scientists the straightforward language and common-sense nature of much of the advice means that anyone can benefit from reading it.
There are some really good chapters: the chapter on prototyping is relevant not only for PhDs, but for any job where you are building products for a market. I also like the chapter in which Julio recognises how you start off your PhD with grandiose plans (‘cure cancer’), but how you ultimately need to scale back to get some results and complete. The chapter on productivity software covering Evernote, Dropbox and Mendeley is also very helpful.
Finally, the importance of having a social life and not spending too much time in the lab is nicely summed up in Julio’s observation that ‘The goal is to have a purpose to finish your work today’. This is a very simple but powerful reminder to keep your work and personal life in healthy balance, and have someone or something to look forward to each night. Note that in signing up to receive the e-book, you also subscribe to a marketing mailing list – you can unsubscribe by clicking on the link in the first marketing email you receive.
Get 17 Simple Strategies to Survive Your PhD free from the Next Scientist website.