A blog by Rob J Hyndman 

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Posts Tagged ‘welfare’:

Do something else

Published on 18 October 2010

I’ve writ­ten about tak­ing a break from research before. Along the same lines, there is some good advice on “The Impor­tance of Mak­ing Time for “Real World” Activ­i­ties in Grad School” over at the excel­lent AMS Grad­u­ate Stu­dent Blog.

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Take a break

Published on 13 September 2009

Occa­sion­ally, the best research is done in long peri­ods of con­cen­trated effort. Allegedly, Isaac New­ton used to some­times write for eight hours stand­ing up with­out a break. At other times, tak­ing a break helps the research process. Think of Archimedes and his Eureka moment. Many of my best ideas come while walk­ing, or tak­ing a shower. In fact, I once sug­gested to my head of depart­ment that we should have show­ers installed in every office as it would increase the qual­ity of our research. Then there are the times when play­ing around with related ideas can lead to a new way of think­ing about a prob­lem. Some­times I read a paper on a related topic, or do some numer­i­cal cal­cu­la­tions in R, or browse through a book that might have some­thing of inter­est. In this mode, I try not to think too deeply about the spe­cific prob­lem. Most research tends to involve all three (and other) modes of work­ing. There are times when you need to shut the door, block out dis­trac­tions, and think hard. But after a while, if progress has stalled, it might help to go for a walk. If that doesn’t help, try play­ing around with some related ideas. Recently, there has been some inter­est­ing research on the value of


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Seek help when it’s needed

Published on 25 August 2009

I don’t think I’ve had a research stu­dent who did not think about giv­ing up at some point. It was part through my sec­ond year when I felt like giv­ing up. I felt I was not going to be able to fin­ish my the­sis, and that I would be bet­ter off throw­ing in the towel and doing some­thing else. For­tu­nately, I couldn’t think of any­thing bet­ter to do, plus I hate giv­ing up on any­thing, so I per­se­vered and it turned out ok. I was also for­tu­nate to have a very sup­port­ive wife and a great asso­ciate super­vi­sor in Gary Grun­wald who kept me going. Feel­ings of frus­tra­tion, inad­e­quacy, and iso­la­tion are nor­mal for research stu­dents. It is a pity this is not dis­cussed more, as many stu­dents seem to think they are the only ones strug­gling. In real­ity, it seems to be com­mon to every research stu­dent at some point dur­ing their can­di­tature. It is even more dif­fi­cult for stu­dents with fam­i­lies over­seas, or who have con­flict­ing demands on them such as fam­ily or cul­tural expec­ta­tions that make it dif­fi­cult to study.  Also, the sheer inten­sity of doing doc­toral research can bring per­sonal issues to the sur­face that may make study dif­fi­cult. Sev­eral of my stu­dents have expe­ri­enced phases of dis­tress and


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