I am an engineer in Academia, coming from a Master's degree that is pretty distant from Academia. I am ten months into my job and I still feel a bit distant about Academia, scientific research and the like.

An example would be yesterday: I had to write an abstract for an upcoming conference. I free-handed something about the project I'm working on, but after giving it to my project leader for review, it was obvious that I didn't know what was expected from me.

I am expected to start a PhD program in a bit more than a year, and I still feel... Unfit for Academia.

What are some good resources to learn about survival in Academia? I am thinking of things like:

  • Advice on how to shape your work schedule
  • How to write research papers
  • How to communicate with people from other labs

There seems to be no "Academia for dummies". I feel like I would have needed such a book.

  • One problem new folk often don't get is: 1) what you work on, and 2) how you present it, should be two ENTIRELY seperate concepts in your brain. 1) is dealing with all the (seemingly) endless technical details, math, equations, code, etc. whereas 2) is about story, narrative, audience, and framing your research/contributions in the larger scheme of the research community
    – Taw
    Feb 1 at 22:38
  • And as for the communication with others/your own personal work schedule, really it depends entirely on your specific circumstances, and the circumstances of the 'others'.
    – Taw
    Feb 1 at 22:39

1 Answer 1


I get you, I felt lost too when I started grad school. A single thing that helped me enormously is the YouTube channel of the Office of Graduate Research at Flinders University and all the weekly videos made by Professor Tara Brabazon. Even though she is a Professor of cultural studies, most of her advice applied very well for me in an engineering field. You will find videos on all three aspects that you listed in your question. And there's plenty of them.

The videos on improving academic writing have had a tremendous impact on the quality and quantity of my research outputs. The videos on academia in general have helped me so much in understanding the inner workings of an academic life. Really precious resource for a first gen PhD student. To this day (at the very end of my PhD), I listen to these videos as podcasts whenever I have free time.

It's great that you think about this already before starting a PhD. Some of the videos are targeted at people at your career stage. They will help you come to the PhD program better prepared. Good luck!

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