10 Rules for Graduate Students

2 December 2007

PLoS Computational Biology published this article in their November issue, which I had wished I had read well in the commencement of my PhD program. Let’s have a look at the 10 rules which the authors deem as important for graduate students to know.

  • Let passion be the driving force of your success
  • Select the right mentor, project and laboratory
  • Independent thinking is a mark of a true scientist
  • Remember, life is all about balance
  • Think ahead and develop your professional career early
  • Remain focused on your hypothesis while avoiding being held back
  • Address problems earlier rather than later
  • Share your scientific success with the world
  • Build confidence and a thick skin
  • Help select and subsequently engage your thesis committee

I think I may lack passion but I’m not lacking motivation. I wonder if that means I am good enough to be a good scientist. Sounds like a half-hearted commitment, but I will not abandon ship by now. I am very lucky, to have the right research/working environment and support, for which I am thankful.

Over time, I began to think independently, but I think I have yet to complete this learning process. As time draws closer to the endtime for thesis completion, I found it harder and harder to balance my life but I haven’t yet entirely lost myself. My friends are keeping me grounded, and for this I am thankful too.

I am not entirely certain if this is my career path of choice, so my focus right now is on the finishing line. Perhaps not the best admission for me to do right now, but let’s be frank. Afterall this could be part of the addressing problems early on. To be realistic. To be truthful.

Sharing my work through seminars, poster presentations and talks, well, I have done my part on this. I enjoy them despite my occasional complains over them, because it means getting feedback and improving my pursuit. These do tie in directly to confidence building and having a thick skin for what I do could end up being vastly wrong, and I need to be able to handle the criticisms.

Last but not least, my thesis committee. Well, since I’m not following the American system, I guess this is not something I need to bear in mind over.


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