Dr. Ben Mortenson (centre) received SFU's first Banting Award, valued at $140k over two years. He's joined by (from left) VP Research Mario Pinto, the Honourable James Moore, President Andrew Petter and VP Academic Jon Driver. Watch out for a story in SFU News!

Tips and Tricks

Weekly Roundup: September 14

September 14, 2012

In this week's roundup: Advice for new grad students, how to handle criticism, and a ton of teaching tips.

Please leave a comment if you have feedback or additional stories that we missed. If you'd like us to include an article in the next roundup, email the link to gradstudies@sfu.ca

Future Graduate Students

  • The Guardian: Why I'm scared stiff of doing postgrad
    "Starting a master's isn't for wimps: how do you know if you're clever enough to warrant the expense?" (Also check out the comments for some good advice.)
  • US News: Avoid the Biggest Mistake Prospective Graduate Students Make
    "Graduate school is not something to take lightly. It involves a major investment personally, intellectually, socially, emotionally, and financially. Be sure to allow yourself time to do your due diligence, and get all of the information you want and need."

New Graduate Students

  • Next Scientist: 10 Things You Should Know Before Starting A PhD
    "We all join graduate school with rainbows and butterfly ideas in our minds. We will cure cancer, do research in interesting topics, learn a lot, oh! the scientific method, meet smart people. That’s cute. Guess what? Life as a PhD student is much different." (Note: If you want an SFU-based Wordpress blog, they're free for grad students. Also see our Getting Started on Twitter blog post.)
  • Chronicle of Higher Education: Encourage, but Terrify
    "To prevent my own students from drifting off to a doctoral program without understanding what they are getting themselves into, I always take an hour of my methods course to explain what is involved in getting an M.A. or a Ph.D. and becoming a professor. I drop hardbound copies of doctoral theses on the table; talk about the ordeal of the preliminary exam; explain the differences among teaching assistants, adjunct instructors, and tenure-track faculty members; and pull no punches describing the tenure-track market."

Grad Student Life

  • Research Whisperer: Landing a Big Fish
    "Securing keynote speakers is a process that isn’t particularly well covered in any career development material because it can be a niche concern. For anyone who’s convened an event, though, it is the element that keeps you staring at ceilings until 4am in the morning, or has you tearing your hair out at your desk at 9pm at night."
  • The Guardian: Professional development: how to become a global researcher (live chat)
    "So what support and development do researchers need to become truly global — whether they stay in their countries of origin or are based overseas? How can they develop the international economic, political, social and cultural understanding that will improve them as researchers?" (The chat is recorded in the comments.)
  • Tiny Buddha: How to deal with criticism well
    "I realize criticism doesn’t always come gently from someone legitimately trying to help. A lot of the feedback we receive is unsolicited and doesn’t come from teachers—or maybe all of it does. We can’t control what other people will say to us, whether they’ll approve or form opinions and share them. But we can control how we internalize it, respond to it, and learn from it, and when we release it and move on."

Writing and Research


  • Inside Higher Education: Crafting an Engaging Lecture
    "I’ve collected a few ideas from my training and practice as a high school math and history teacher and graduate teaching assistant and hope they are helpful to others who seek to improve student learning and engagement in lectures."
  • Inside Higher Education: The Missing Element in Student Success
    "With few exceptions, most graduate programs do not put much effort into helping people learn how to teach. Students master the central texts or exemplary studies of philosophy, political science, or physics, the discipline’s methods of inquiry, the history of the discipline’s development, but not how to teach it." (Tip: Check out TLC's workshops that teach you how to be a better teacher.)
  • Profhacker: Teaching Carnival 6.01
    "Welcome back to another year of aggregated teaching links from around the blogosphere (aka, The Teaching Carnival)!  The Teaching Carnival (and its editor) took a break over the summer, but we are back and we have an epic Teaching Carnival 6.01 post for you.  Grab some coffee (or maybe a meal), settle back, and prepare to be educated." (Also see all past Teaching Carnivals.)

This week's PhD comic:

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