A blog by Rob J Hyndman 

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Posts Tagged ‘phd’:

Establishing priority

Published on 6 May 2013

The nature of research is that other peo­ple are prob­a­bly work­ing on sim­i­lar ideas to you, and it is pos­si­ble that some­one will beat you to pub­lish­ing them.

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What you wish you knew before you started a PhD

Published on 11 November 2011

I asked my research group recently what they wished they had learned before they started work on a PhD. Here are some of the responses.

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Why God never received tenure

Published on 2 September 2010

He had only one major pub­li­ca­tion. It was in Hebrew. It had no ref­er­ences. It wasn’t pub­lished in a ref­er­eed jour­nal. Some even doubt he wrote it by him­self. It may be true that he cre­ated the world, but what has he done since then? The sci­en­tific com­mu­nity has had a hard time repli­cat­ing his results. He never applied to the ethics board for per­mis­sion to use human sub­jects. When one exper­i­ment went awry he tried to cover it by drown­ing his sub­jects. When sub­jects didn’t behave as pre­dicted, he deleted them from the sam­ple. He rarely came to class, just told stu­dents to read the book. Some say he had his son teach the class. He expelled his first two stu­dents for learn­ing. Although there were only 10 require­ments, most of his stu­dents failed his tests. His office hours were infre­quent and often held on lim­ited access moun­tain tops. No record of work­ing well with col­leagues. This list must have appeared on thou­sands of sites and I’ve not been able to track down the source. In fact, a search on the phrase yields over 43,000 results on Google. There are another 3,700 where it is titled “Why God never received a PhD”. If any­one knows the orig­i­nal source, please post


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How to fail a PhD

Published on 2 September 2010

I read an inter­est­ing post today by Matt Might on “10 rea­sons PhD stu­dents fail”, and I thought it might be help­ful to reflect on some of the bar­ri­ers to PhD com­ple­tion that I’ve seen. Matt’s ideas are not all rel­e­vant to Aus­tralian PhDs, so I have come up with my own list below.  Here are the seven steps to fail­ure. 1. Wait for your super­vi­sor to tell you what to do A good super­vi­sor will not tell you what to do. PhD stu­dents are not meant to be research assis­tants, and a PhD is not an extended under­grad­u­ate assign­ment. So wait­ing to be told what to do next will usu­ally get you nowhere. By the time you grad­u­ate with a PhD, you are sup­posed to be an inde­pen­dent researcher. That means hav­ing your own ideas, set­ting your own research direc­tions, and choos­ing what to do your­self. In prac­tice, your super­vi­sor will usu­ally need to tell you what to do for the first year, but even­tu­ally you need to set the research agenda your­self. By the third year you should cer­tainly know more about your topic than your super­vi­sor, and so are in a bet­ter posi­tion to know what to do next. 2. Wait for inspi­ra­tion Sit­ting around


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What to do when the PhD is finished?

Published on 10 February 2010

So you’re won­der­ing what to do once your PhD is finally com­pleted? First, take a hol­i­day. Com­plet­ing a PhD is an intense and drain­ing exer­cise, and you should take some time to refresh. Then you need to decide what career path you pre­fer. In sta­tis­tics, there are three choices: the aca­d­e­mic route, the semi-​​​​academic route and the busi­ness route. Aca­d­e­mic route Most PhD stu­dents would like an aca­d­e­mic job. In fact, I think all of my PhD stu­dents have rather fan­cied my job! How­ever, it is not an easy path, espe­cially in the first few years. The ideal sit­u­a­tion is to get a post-​​​​doctoral fel­low­ship, prefer­ably in a dif­fer­ent uni­ver­sity (and a dif­fer­ent coun­try) from where you stud­ied for your doc­tor­ate. That gives you some time to con­cen­trate on con­sol­i­dat­ing your research and to learn from another super­vi­sor. Work­ing in a dif­fer­ent coun­try also helps you develop a broader net­work of research con­tacts. But there aren’t many post-​​​​doc posi­tions around, and so it is hard to get some­thing suit­able. I am occa­sion­ally asked by other researchers if I have any good stu­dents fin­ish­ing soon as they have a post-​​​​doc posi­tion avail­able. In this case, I pass the infor­ma­tion on to any stu­dents likely to fin­ish at about the right time.  But these are posi­tions


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The 7 secrets of highly successful PhD students

Published on 28 September 2009

It seems every­one has 7 secrets to suc­cess, and now some­one has hopped on the 7-​​​​secrets band­wagon with some­thing for PhD stu­dents. Thinkwell is an Aus­tralian com­pany offer­ing a sem­i­nar and asso­ci­ated work book on “The 7 secrets of highly suc­cess­ful PhD stu­dents”. I bought the book out of curios­ity, but “book” is a gross exag­ger­a­tion — only eleven pages of fairly sim­plis­tic advice. I hope the sem­i­nar has more sub­stance. For what it’s worth, here are the so-​​​​called seven secrets. Care and main­te­nance of your super­vi­sor. Write and show as you go. Be real­is­tic. Say no to dis­trac­tions. It’s a job. Get help. You can do it. If you can work out what is meant from those head­ings, you’re doing bet­ter than me. After read­ing the “book”, I think a bet­ter sum­mary would be as fol­lows. Meet reg­u­larly with your super­vi­sor. Write up your research ideas as you go. Have real­is­tic research goals. Beware of dis­trac­tions and other com­mit­ments. Set reg­u­lar hours and take hol­i­days. Make full use of the avail­able help. Per­se­vere. Noth­ing too sur­pris­ing there. Per­haps it should have been called “Seven obvi­ous things PhD stu­dents should already know”. If I haven’t put you all off, one of the authors is pre­sent­ing the sem­i­nar at Monash in a cou­ple of weeks. The


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