Some tips for graduate students

Some tips you wish you know earlier in your Ph.D. journey. (Verified!)

1: Get yourself in a dissertation template and stay there. Start writing the introduction of your thesis now and publish it as a review paper. Keep pushing in the forward direction.

2: Get organized early, have folders for everything. Do not assume you will remember something you won’t ever! Have a separate notebook/ folder for meetings with your supervisors, ideas for each chapter/strand of your research/ meetings/ conferences – etc –. Name EVERYTHING appropriately even a temporary file.

3: Save your data in more than one hard drive. Also on Dropbox/Google Drive (Find a way to get access to google). Just to be sure.

4: Stop lab work once every 10-12 weeks, and take the time to read, assemble figures, reflect where you’re at and where you’re going. Sketch out your figures into the format of a paper, it will help you see the holes in your work.

5: Figures are much easier to produce in Igor (or similar software) than in excel. More upfront work but easier in the long-term.

6: Article alerts not so new – but it’s good if you set it up on Google scholar alerts. Choose the keywords that you wanted to get alert. Or follow researchers and get to know who cite their words and what is their new related research.

7: Mendeley is endnote but free.

8: Learn to tell a story with your slides, fewer words, more pictures (we are visual animals). The axis/legend font should be bigger. BIGGER. If your Ph.D. is in science use this website for great images (

9: During a Powerpoint presentation, hit the ‘G’ or ‘-‘ key to view all slides and easily switch between them. Do these to avoid the annoying back-clicking through a hundred slide animations! Whenever you do slides PPT, always put the references for text/images you use.

10: Save all applications, papers, etc. even if they get rejected or don’t turn out, organize them well, and then tailor or re-use for similar future work if possible. Create templates for everything.

11: Find different types of mentors. Make friends of your department chair/PIs/postdocs.

12: Don’t get stuck at the bench, go out and breathe if needed!