Advice to Graduate Students and Researchers John Owens
On Having a Web Page
Simple rule. If you are ever interested in publicizing yourself and your work, have a web page. That web page should have your name and your contact information (work address, work email, and perhaps phone). You might think about putting some background on it as well (your list of publications, perhaps, and your research interests). You should also consider putting a picture of yourself on the web. People will then know what you look like. This is useful if you want to meet those people and publicize yourself and your work to them.
As a new professor, I am frequently getting email from students asking for research advice, positions in my group, admission to my university. The first things I want to know are those items above. The web is a wonderful way to put all this information in one place to make it easier for the people you're trying to reach to find it. Ideally, what you want to happen is that someone can type your name into Google and have your web page come up first.
In the event your employer or university doesn't give you the opportunity to make a web page, there are many sites out there; I recommend Github Pages.
On Random but Relevant Advice From Others
Pat Hanrahan recommends the previous work highly as well as No Silver Bullet: Essence and Accidents of Software Engineering by Fred Brooks.
Ivan Sutherland's "Technology and Courage" is a must read for all graduate students, especially those at the beginning of their studies.
André DeHon's How to be a Winner: Advice for students starting into research is aimed towards students doing systems research.
PLoS has some great advice articles:
- Ten Simple Rules for Getting Published
- Ten Simple Rules for Reviewers
- Ten Simple Rules for Making Good Oral Presentations
John Regehr and his colleagues explain the 5+5 Commandments of a Ph.D..
For creativity in experimental methods, Jeff Van Bueren's 2000 paper can't be beat. And Martin Schwartz makes a powerful case for the importance of stupidity in scientific research.
Jennifer Widom gives some tips for writing technical papers, and I also enjoyed Michael Ernst's thoughts on writing a technical paper. The Science of Scientific Writing discusses how to make scientific writing more readable (with great examples).
I see that the UCSD VLSI CAD Laboratory has assembled a list of resources that includes many of those above. Tao Xie and Yuan Xie maintain a incredible list of advice links. And my colleague Chen-Nee Chuah also has a terrific list of resources.
On Recommended Books
Two vital books, recommended by many and certainly by me:
Mary-Claire van Leunen's A Handbook for Scholars.
Strunk and White's classic The Elements of Style.
Strunk and White give excellent guidance on how to write well; van Leunen gives equally good advice on the "mechanics of scholarly writing: citation, references, footnotes, bibliographies, format, styling, text preparation, and all related matters". Some people might quibble with certain rules in one or both of these books. My advice: Pick a book/system that you like and stick with it; you don't want to be mixing and matching formatting/stylistic conventions from 18 different sources.
On Publishing Papers on the Web
When publishing papers on the web, always create a web page associated with the paper. When you link to a paper on the web, always link to the web page associated with the paper. (When you reference a paper in another paper, of course, just reference the place it was published.)
(Why? When people look for your paper on the web, they most often don't want the whole paper. Instead, they want to see the author list, or get in touch with you, or see where it was published, or just to read the abstract. They don't want to download a 2 MB PDF file. Also, a well-constructed web page associated with a paper will index on web searches much better than a 2 MB PDF file.)
Think of that web page that you create as an advertisement. When you create that web page, it should contain the following information:
The name of the paper
The author list of the paper
Current contact information for the corresponding author (usually the lead author, but not necessarily; if the lead author is publishing right before, say, becoming a Trappist monk and taking a 5-year vow of silence, he/she might be better off naming another author as the corresponding author)
The citation associated with the paper (both text and BiBTeX are useful)
A link to the electronic version of the paper, along with the format and size of that version
The abstract of the the paper
Copyright notice, if applicable
Corrections to the paper, if applicable (post the most recent correct version and detail what changed)
Finally, when you place a paper on the web, make sure the paper reflects where it is published. The version you put on the web will look exactly like the published paper except for this addition. Putting this in italics on the top of each page is most useful (i.e. "Appears in the 2002 Journal of Irreproducible Results"). This is for readers who print your paper, read it, put it aside (or lend it to someone else), and want to know where it came from to reference it etc.
Matt Might's Academic job search advice.
John Owens | Last updated .