Nature published an article on what makes or breaks a Msc/Phd/Post-Doc student. The profile below matches quite well what we are looking for in our MSc/Phd/Post-Doc students. Does it match you?
- Choose a supervisor: whose work you admire and who is well supported by grants not to limit your project too much and also supported by departmental infrastructure.
- Work hard: Do not think you can get away with a 38-hour week. You will need to work long days all week, and for part of most weekends. That gets you to closer to a 50-60 hour week, which is what you need if you want a successful career in academia. If research is your passion this should be easy, and if it isn't, youare probably in the wrong field. Note who goes home with a fullbriefcase to work on at the end of the day is a cause of success, not a consequence.
- Read the literature: You can not possibly make original contributions to the literature unless you know what is already in there. Read both in your immediate area, and around it; The best time to read papers is between experiments, or in the evenings or weekends. Reading papers at your desk instead of doing experiments is a poor use of time. See it as a challenge to put an interesting paper on your supervisor(s) desk before they put it on yours!
- Do not plan to work over Christmas and New Year: also, take some weekends off, and decent holidays, so you don't burn out.
- Be creative think, think, and think some more about what you are doing, and why, and whether there are better ways to go. Do not just see your PhD as a road map laid out by your supervisor. It is never too soon to start working on this aspect of your PhD, and at the end of the day probably the single thing that most distinguishes a great scientist from work horse. Ask Big Questions, and be sceptical about 'conventional wisdom', even if it comes from your supervisor.
- Practise your writing in any way you can Do a course in writing (if you can find a good one), use the grammar and spell checks on Word, try to learn from people around you. Plan your project so you can get at least 3-4 good (or 1-2 extremely good) papers out of your PhD. Do not leave thesis writing until after your scholarship or candidature has expired. Start writing from Day 1.
- Keep a good lab book and write it up every day. It will make thesis writing much easier, and will also help to protect any intellectual property that might one day make you rich.
- Set yourself deadlines and try to keep them. Start collaborations.
- Finally, to be successful you need to be at least four of the following: creative, motivated, smart, hard-working, skillful and lucky; Since you can not depend on luck, you would better focus on the others!!
We add one more to the list: Pull yourself up by your own bootstraps.
If the above mentioned sounds good for you and you would like to join us, contact Moises J. Zotti.