I'm not a currently enrolled grad student, but I am being adopted on as a "grad student" and am currently working on a project in pharmacology involving a lot of things that I'm not too familiar with. I have been spending the last week reading up on the project background as well as some coding documentation since it will be application of MATLAB to pharmacology. I have two PhD advisors that I am working under who are very accommodating to answering questions but have made it clear that they are not here to hold my hand throughout the project.

I guess my main concern is I'm not sure at what stage of understanding of the topic is it ideal to ask questions and not sure how to ask the most effective questions. I never asked a lot of questions in undergraduate research (which was largely just doing low level tasks) or in undergraduate classes, so this sort of independent learning research environment and individual time planning is throwing me for a huge loop. I'm hoping to get some insight from others that have struggled through the same worries and anxieties I constantly have. Is there any advice/tips on being a better communicator and learner that other people have for being successful in grad school/academia/a similar environment that I'm in right now?

1 Answer 1


Not sure what you are asking here.

If you want us to tell you how you learn then we can’t, you have to sort that yourself.

With regards to questions, your supervisors seem to be expecting developed questions perhaps about the algorithm you propose to work towards a solution (not sure if they will be open to coding questions though), but not questions such as “what is a pill” so you have to get up to speed - which you are doing with this reading.

Have you planned meetings with your advisors? Perhaps once a week may be a good point to start, at least initially. How it develops depends on many things, type of research, outcome etc Some seem to work together every day, others don’t.

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