Carolyn Hanna, our Coordinator for international students, with her son on Terry Fox Day, September 18, 2012. Over 1500 SFU students, staff and faculty members came out to participate in the event at all three campuses.

Tips and Tricks

Weekly Roundup: September 21

September 21, 2012

In this week's roundup: Tips for applying to grad school, getting organized as a grad student, and thoughts about what happens after graduation.

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

Future Graduate Students

  • My Graduate School: Preparing a Successful Grad-School Application Takes A Lot More Time Than Most People Assume
    "It can take several months, even a year or more, to make all the necessary preparations so that when the time actually comes to put together the application, all the right elements are in place to ensure you are successful at getting into the program that’s right for you."
  • Justin O'Hearn: Applying to PhD Programs Part 1; part 2; part 3
    "Speaking from my personal experience of applying to fourteen PhD programs in English across Canada (and getting offers at twelve of them) I thought that I could offer some guidelines to the application process to help those who are applying and make it as seamless as possible."
  • Grad School Ninja: How to Pick a Thesis Advisor Who Is Right for You
    "My advice – I know this is controversial – but my advice is that you are making too big an investment of time, energy, money, personal anguish and lost wages in grad school to risk ending up in the grip of a single prof who may or may not come through for you. You need options. Hence, unless the prof is someone you got to know very well as an undergrad (say you get a Bachelor’s and a Masters in the same department so you know what you are getting before you start grad school – like me…) then you need to pick a program where there are AT LEAST two people who could serve as your supervisor." 

New Graduate Students

  • Get a Life, PhD: A step-by-step guide to being an organized person in academia
    "How can you be an academic with an organized life? How can time management be applied to academics? I have been practicing time management for about five years, and can share with you what works for me."
  • Gradhacker: Shaping Department Culture
    "Like any other culture, the culture of a department is ever changing and reflective of the people who pass through at every level.  Some imprint themselves heavily upon it, others may be but a blip, but everyone leaves their mark in some way—even if their portrait isn't hanging in the seminar room.  And as the senior grad students in my department told me when I arrived, and as I have since told others:  your job is to leave it better than you found it."

Grad Student Life

Writing and Research

  • London School of Economics and Political Science blog: Wow – Google Scholar ‘Updates’ a big step forward in sifting through the scientific literature
    "I logged on to Google Scholar last week and discovered something very new. This “updates” thing was not there earlier in the day.  So I clicked on the link and got to this page: Scholar Updates: Making New Connections – Google Scholar Blog "
  • London School of Economics and Political Science blog: A sociologist’s adventures in social media land
    "I wrote a piece for an online news and discussion site, The Conversation. This site was designed for academics to write accessible articles directed at the general public, who in turn are invited to comment. After only a few hours following publication of the article, more than 500 people had read it, and several had commented.  A couple of days later the post had accumulated over 2,000 views and many more comments. I was amazed by the way such a forum offered instant feedback on my ideas and a large readership."
  • Thesis Whisperer: (Human) Ethics Applications with a Minimum of Pain (Part 2)
    "If you wander into a university tea-room and say you are writing an ethics application, you are sure to attract sympathetic looks and a range of horror stories.  Everyone seems to know of someone who took 27 tries and two years to get their application through, and a number of researchers are firmly convinced that the sole reason for the ethics application process is to impede their research."

After Graduation

  • University Affairs: Explaining the gap in your résumé (Time out for a baby)
    "With intense competition for academic jobs, many young scholars worry about how to best position themselves for success. And if the candidate is a newly minted PhD who took a break from publishing or a delay in completing the degree due to childbirth, and perhaps even some time out for full-time parenting, the anxiety increases."
  • Inside Higher Ed: Expanding Your Family
    "Is there ever a perfect time to have a child? For most people the answer to this question is probably "no," especially for those riding the tenure-track boat, where being denied tenure means that you will be thrown out to sea, or in other words you will be out of a job."
  • Chronicle of Higher Education: 'You're Hired!' Great. What Now?
    Today I am working in my own real office as an assistant professor. You know, the kind with a door, an official nameplate, my own computer, desk, and chair. I don't have to share it with three to eight other people, and I can actually leave my things in it and expect everything to remain exactly as I left it.
  • Chronicle of Higher Education: Who Says English is a Dying Discipline?
    "Without denying the scale of the challenges our colleges are facing, I want to propose a different view. We in English studies have become so habituated to visions of decline that we fail to appreciate our discipline's resilience, which has kept it relatively stable here in the United States—even as it expands rapidly across many other parts of the world."
  • MediAcademia: Earning the PhD and a Sense of False Hope: My Experiences (So Far) in This Racket Called Academia
    "I completed my PhD in five years (1999–2004). (For non-academics: 4-5 years is about the minimum amount of time it takes for a humanities candidate in the U.S. to complete the degree.)"


This week's PhD comic:

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