I will start mentoring my first PhD student this fall, and I would like to read some books to have it start the best way possible.

I have already supervised some Master and undergrad students, but I was not always happy with the way it went. I would thus like to improve my "managing" skills to help my student become a good researcher. I looked online for book recommendations, but couldn't find anything useful (tailored for mentors, and not students).

  • So what did you, or they, do wrong in the previous situations? How would you avoid those pitfalls next time around?
    – Solar Mike
    Jul 28, 2019 at 13:05
  • @SolarMike I have analyzed the last bad situation, and I plan to work on that. However, I am looking for a more systematic approach (how to plan successful scientific meetings, more HR-like meetings, how to deal with a student that is not well organised, ...). One finds plenty website giving tips for students, I am looking for the supervisor's version, if it exists.
    – Adam
    Jul 28, 2019 at 18:23
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    @Buffy I thought on-topic book recommendations were allowed on SE. This meta answer seems to agree academia.meta.stackexchange.com/a/3860/96729 I can always try to rephrase my question, but in the end, it boils down to "are there books for PhD supervisors", in the same that there are book on how to write science, and so on
    – Adam
    Jul 28, 2019 at 18:25
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    Since you only asked for books, you won't get answers from people here who know how to be successful at it, but haven't written books.
    – Buffy
    Jul 28, 2019 at 20:18
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    @SolarMike you misunderstand, it does not take an entire book to answer the question "is there a book on X". Apr 28, 2021 at 21:57

1 Answer 1


As a current PhD student thinking about what I'd like a supervisor to be aware of, I can think of a few book recommendations which might be useful. The challenge of doing a PhD which I've noticed is learning how to be efficient and happy in the face of a really different kind of challenge than my previous studies were. These books offer models for that, which might help you make more concrete suggestions to your students when they (inevitably) struggle or at least help you understand them more.

  • Deep Work by Cal Newport. A really good advice-filled book about how to get productive, creative work done by relegating distractions and creating the right kind of time/space.

  • Becoming a Successful Scientist by Craig Loehle. A general book about the sorts of things a scientist in training might need to think about and adapt to.

  • A book about depression and other mental health struggles, for example Curse of the Strong by Tim Cantopher. This is very likely to be a challenge that your students may face, and knowing a bit about it will make you better equipped to help them.

  • A book about how to communicate when difficult things are happening. For example, NVC offers an interesting model, as in Nonviolent Communication -- A Language of Life by Marshall Rosenberg.

Hope that's helpful and good luck! And remember that your students can probably tell you a lot about what you need to know to help them if you can get to a place where you can listen and they can share.

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