If you need help with online teaching or other challenges in academia arising from the COVID-19 crisis, we have prepared this FAQ to get you started.

New answers tagged

3

I agree that you may be suffering from Imposter syndrome. That is, reading your post I see no evidence that you aren't prepared, and in fact, I see several pieces of evidence that you are prepared. Despite your accomplishments, you are underconfident and do not realize that many of your peers are going through the same struggles as you are; you see these as ...


8

The fact that your adviser thinks you're doing fine, in particular, suggests to me that you may be dealing with some impostor syndrome. I think when most of us start out in PhD programs, we feel like everyone around us is doing much better. Like they all belong here, but we don't. This is usually accompanied with a feeling of "I had better keep my head ...


2

What you have learned, I hope not too late, is that the undergraduate program in many places (Europe...) is very different from that in the US. The undergrad program in the US is a generalist degree, not one of high specialization as it is other places. Your description of your own undergraduate program may be unfair, for the US, but programs just don't ...


1

You're stuck in a conundrum you'll encounter all through your life: You have a girl/boy friend and you wonder whether it's worth committing and getting married -- but you keep wondering whether anyone better might come along eventually. You have a job offer from a well-paying company, but you still have that application pending with Google. You have a grad ...


1

There are too many variables for a general answer. How do the post-docs work? Do they work together? Is the lab environment friendly and helpful or cut-throat. Are they willing to help you? Are they new at this or beginners? All the combinations could balance out to something good or bad. But most important is how interested your advisor is in helping you ...


0

It would be better to have the publications than to not have them. So if that is your question, duh, yes. They do matter. Of course, your overall application contains various elements: grades, test scores, LORs, other accomplishments (papers, etc.). As to whether you're a good/bad candidate to get accepted, hard to say, when you only describe one ...


0

Having publications is a plus, but so are other things. You are asking about three extremely competitive institutions and they get a lot of applications from a lot of highly qualified candidates. Most of them have many positive elements to their applications. It is impossible to say where you would be judged in relation to this group. However, decisions in ...


4

In my experience scientific PhD life roughly looks like this while funding > 0: gap = gapAnalysis(literature) rq = formulateResearchQuestion(gap, phd_topic=None) experiment, performance_metric = design_experiment(rq) data = experiment.perform() results = performance_metric(data) paper = Paper(intro=contributions(rq, gap), ...


1

First, although your anxiety about not knowing how to research productively without the normal support structures is completely understandable, here’s a suggestion: try it. As they say, necessity is the mother of invention. You may end up being successful beyond your expectations, and all the anxiety and worry would have turned out to be premature. Second, ...


4

You can try to fill the gaps in your knowledge and skills. For example, learn some techniques that are commonly used in your field. Even if you will not need them for your immediate project, there is a chance that they will be useful for the next one. For example, if you do engineering, you are likely to need to write some code, so you can improve your ...


1

I actually see that you need to revaluate your Priorities about the so called Top 10 Universities. I now see that the so called Top Schools are just Ranking Junkies. Apply to lesser Known Schools in the USA Canada or Europe because the Top Schools attract too many Applicants for just 1000 Spots. In 2002 Harvard Attracted 22.000 Applicants and now in 2020 ...


0

I am a first year PhD at UofH. I had these questions as well when staring out my applications. I had a list of 10 universities that I wanted to apply to. The lowest ranked school was UH. Do you know why I had UH on the list? Because there was a professor that I wanted to work with who was doing research in exactly what I wanted. Do you know how many schools ...


5

I think you are vastly overestimating the value of ratings from a popular magazine as they apply to doctoral education and vastly underestimating the quality of doctoral education at any R1 in Texas. Frankly the real difference, in an individual field between a school rated 180 and one rated, say, 40 is likely to be a mix of random and the value of a given ...


1

Wondering with all the travel bans and people leaving cities if previously filled places might become available this year in the US? Obviously universities are in disarray so don't want to bother them at this time....Just wondering if there's any scope to start this year as now I have no work. Any ideas if this is feasible? It sounds very unlikely. It is ...


30

Just a guess, but the guess is that you are uniformly underestimating your own skills and the quality of your education. You say "When an author derives something, I sometimes need a few minutes to make sure that the math is sound." Well, it might take me hours or days. You are undecided about field and find a lot of interesting things that you might study....


13

I don't feel like I have the background to actually do research Undergraduate degrees do not (generally) prepare you for research. By teaching software development and neglecting the mathematical side, your school prepared students for the workplace, rather than academia, which is their job. How can I make sure that I'm ready and in the right field when ...


3

It seems that pretty much everything must now be done in virtual space. And, of course, this is hard to arrange in the short term. But in addition to videos, there is the possibility of software to provide hands-on simulation in some cases. It might be worth the effort in some fields to pair up (virtually) with a good programmer who can build quick ...


2

Use video demonstrations of each section of the experiment and the results and use those for discussion.


1

There shouldn't be an issue if they use letterhead of their present employer. They will probably say something about the change of affiliation. But it might be improper for them to submit on the old employer's letterhead. But a letter on plain paper should also be fine, assuming that the letter writer provides contact information so that their affiliation ...


0

I feel like a big part of the problem here is that by the time you're at the PhD level of work, you're expected to know that you want to do that work. You're making an enormous commitment to go through a PhD, and, rightly or wrongly, the time for flirting with different majors is when you're in undergrad. At least that's how it's "supposed" to work, and is ...


1

Things were said between the two professors that you couldn't control. It puts you in a difficult position, but might also be an opportunity. To switch fields you need to satisfy the university about some things, but also find an advisor in the new field. Either of these could be a stumbling block. The worst case, I think is that you need to find a new ...


1

Anybody can have an unexpected accident interrupt their life, like getting run over by a bus or struck down by a dangerous disease. If you withdraw from the courses for medical reasons, your university will likely adjust your transcript in some way that reflects that as well (e.g., deleting courses or marking them withdrawn) rather than simply leaving a bad ...


3

I would go with Dear Co-Advisor, last week we agreed on ... Of course, all our previous plans are now obsolete. Please let me know if I can be of any help. If not, as I want to continue my work withouth putting any burden on you, I appreciate if you point me towards someone I could get in touch with.


3

Can you adapt your model to deal with the problem that is interesting everyone else? You don't have to come up with a magical solution to modeling the COVID outbreak, just use your knowledge to say something interesting and relevant. Help your co-advisor with the collection and synthesis of data, do your bit of modeling and write it all up. The level of ...


128

As someone who's been out of academia for a while, I would like to offer a different perspective. Yes, occupying your co-advisor's attention when the roof is on fire is tone-deaf. However: you have acquired skills that are obviously in high demand these days, and are thrown into a (hopefully) once-in-a lifetime situation to apply these skills. Especially ...


20

Yes, it’s fine to email her, but the email should be a lot shorter than your post here. Keep it to an absolute minimum and spare your poor overworked co-adviser having to read any unnecessary apologies, hand-wringing, expressions of sympathy and whatnot. Something like this might work: Dear co-adviser, I’m following up on our meeting from last week. ...


16

I don't see any harm in sending this co-adviser the work you've completed, provided you include a cover message saying that you're aware how busy she is with the high-priority work on the COVID-19 epidemic but you'd really appreciate it if she could find time to suggest what you should do next. That was assuming that, when you wrote "she tells me what to do ...


17

Context: I have had candidates in similar situations apply to positions I offered in the past. It's certainly possible - you are not a slave to your current group, and there is no law that says that we cannot hire people who have already started (and quit) a PhD elsewhere. However, in practice, applicants in your situation raise an interesting question for ...


1

It depends a lot on which university you apply at and what the new supervisor thinks about it. In most cases you would be asked if you have been enrolled in a Ph.D. program before, wether you finished it or not and if not, why you dropped out. In many cases it would be up to the new supervisor to make the decision. It's generally not seen as something ...


3

Your suggestion is good. I don't think it needs more. One option, though, would be an additional sentence asking if there are any papers or sources that you can or should examine in the short term. But thanks is all you really need.


4

You said that the funded PhD offer matches your field of interest. To me this already looks like a clear win over the unfunded Masters degree. The only point that could direct you towards the Masters is funding. So question 1: How necessary is significant grant funding for the research in your AOI? Question 2: How much funding does the advisor at the PhD ...


3

A PhD is a research degree. Only get one if you want to do research. Simply put, the point of a PhD is to train you to perform scientific research and to provide accreditation to the fact that you’re capable of doing so. If you want to get a job in academia or some big company’s R&D department you may want to get one. If you just want to be an engineer ...


0

Is it reasonable to do [SUBJECT X] without active/good prof in uni I will answer generally, since whether number theory or something else, the advice is the same. It will be harder, for sure. Having a good advisor, active, in your research area can be extremely important, especially early on in your PhD, to make sure you are studying the right areas, and ...


1

It is true, as @Mr Cabbage observes, that there probably are economic realities to be considered. Unless you're independently wealthy, you'll eventually need to have a paycheck. And probably a reliable one. If you're "on your own", with no responsibilities to anyone else, you can obviously take more risks than otherwise. So. One point is that you have ...


3

Number theory is perhaps the historically deepest, most studied area of mathematics. To even begin to understand research in most areas of number theory, you need two full years of graduate coursework over several subfields of mathematics. What one can learn in an undergraduate course, or even a first graduate course, in number theory is so far from the ...


1

I think you should do what your heart tells you to do. If you love number theory, do number theory. However, there are certain economic realities to take into consideration. Most people study with the intention of getting a job afterwards. Therefore, since you have a talent for mathematics, I would suggest that you become a statistician, since there are far ...


1

I know she contacted one already, and I know they gave a great feedback, but it's been more than two months now without hearing from her. Should I contact her and ask if she needs any extra info or wait? Definitely contact her! There was genuine interest between you and you have nothing to lose, everything to gain. It is easy to fall under the impression ...


0

Many things might be happening/have happened: 1) The worst is that the other reference did not give positive feedback, or 2) The other applicants have better (from her perspective) profiles, or 3) She is busy and doesn't have time to proceed with recruiting processes, or 4) She is waiting until interviewing all the applicants and hearing from their ...


4

Using simulated data in a course training students on other aspects of the research process is not unethical. Simulating data is done all the time, for example in testing algorithms or implementations: you often need to start with some known ground-truth so that you can find errors or measure performance. Representing such data as genuine results is ...


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