This question is aimed almost entirely at “higher” education faculty, regardless of the branch(es) of knowledge that they represent.

My intention is not to be rude and/or to insult people here, jut to give some of my thoughts about an assignment of homeworks and/or similar tasks.

I did some research in the field of “assigning homeworks and/or similar tasks”, mostly by talking via my facebook chat with students and people who finished their college and who are from Croatia, and, when they had some courses in which there was an assignment of homeworks or similar tasks, some instructors(professors) insisted that the homework must be solved and given to them, while some were not so strict and for them the student had either the possibility of giving her/his (or his/her) homeworks so to obtain extra points which could affect their final grade in that course.

If you ask me, both of these methods of work are not good enough, the first one is extremely destructive, and the second one is destructive (but not extremely), and what is being destroyed is relationship professor-students and, also, the motivation and inspiration for the course itself.

Because, the professor should do precisely this:

1) She/He should do all that he can to motivate and inspire as much as possible as many students as possible in such a way that they do see that the course that they are attending is interesting and worthy of research, and is probably needed later in such a way that other courses will be built by some (or all) knowledge that comes from the course she/he is giving to the students.

2) She/He should explain to students that it should be good for them to try to solve some exercises in the books they encounter, and she/he could give to them some exercises that could help them to gain better understanding of what is going on in the subject-matter of the course, because even if some youngsters are determined to do very good research work and/or to teach, or to do one of those two things, they will probably do it better if they actually were solving some exercises and problems and saw from that how generalizations are and can be obtained, and how an attitude toward doing some exercises can raise questions that can clarify a lot what exactly is going on.

3) She/He should explain to students that the test(s) they will have to write (or, more generally, attend to) will include in itself the obvious requirement that they were not lazy during the duration of that course, and that they will have a better chance of passing the exam if they decided to practice (during the course) various approaches and methods in their adventure of solving some exercises and, more generally, tasks, and the more they exercise in a right way the more they will master the subject-matter of the course.

The approach where students must do a homework, or where they need not to do it, but if they do not do it then their grade can be lowered down, or be not as high as it could be if they did the homeworks are non-inspirational and contain in itself an elements of force (I could also say violence, but will not), because, some gratitude should be shown to those youngsters, because they actually came to listen to you, and want to learn something new, and want that you inspire them, and want that you be good to them, and want that they have as much freedom as they can during the attendance of your course and during an activites that are related to your course.

And what do you do? You put on their shoulders a burden of “necessary” homework or of “not needed but I could reward you if you do it” homework.

But, they can work in groups and/or with themselves only, even if they are not forced or “almost-forced” to do something. They will surely do exercises if they are interesting to them and if they are presented to them in an interesting and clever way.

Yes, there will be some that will not do them them even with almost the nicest and cleverest approach presented to them, or they will do them but will not feel the need to present them to someone, be it professors or colleagues attending the same course. And there will be some that will gladly do them and ask professors for better approach and/or advices. But neither group will not feel less worthy because some did the homework and succeeded in attaining the higher grade, and some did not and because of that their grade is lower than of some colleague who did all or almost all of the homework assignments.

So, I am just thinking of an approach where everything will be at least as good as it is, but where there is no tendency to reward in this or that way students who wanna do their homework and exercises in the course, and not to reward those who do not wanna.

I should tell that English is not my native and I am not good at it, so it could be that I did not reflect my thoughts crystally clear the way I wanted.

So, it would be nice to know what do you think about the concept of studying where there are no homeworks and/or similar tasks that must be done, and of the same concept where are also no homeworks and/or similar tasks where doing them could award some students, and not doing them could not-reward some other students?

Also, as I am not a professor anywhere, it could be that I am not competent for even asking something like this, or to go into discussion about approaches of this kind, and also, all of this was researched only with students or those who finished the college in Croatia, so that I do not know generally what is the situation in the whole world.

I’m 22, and I’m one year into my PhD in History. I immediately started my PhD after finishing my master’s, working with the same supervisor. Throughout the years, I’ve started to become more and more anxious when it came to writing essays and doing research. I hated working on my master’s thesis, but I nonetheless grabbed the opportunity to start a PhD, because I convinced myself that it was something that I would be good at, I wanted to overcome my anxiety and challenge myself mentally, and the stipend is very decent. Now I’m one year into my PhD, and I’m constantly anxious and depressed. I feel like I’ve accomplished nothing, I have huge problems concentrating. My head feels so scrambled right now, that I can barely figure out my research questions and key thesis. Whenever I read articles on my topic, I feel like I can barely manage the information. I feel stupid and totally inadequate. Communicating with my supervisor is horrible, since I go mute from anxiety mid-conversation.

I feel trapped in my PhD. I feel horrible, but I also feel like I can’t quit, because I would disappoint so many people and regret it for the rest of my life.

Any advice on coping with these issues, and getting back on track? Any particular advice on how to start delineating a research project? Am I already in a hopeless situation, or can I still ‘save’ my PhD?

Edit : My university doesn’t offer counseling for PhD students, but I have been seeing a shrink for the past year. I don’t know if I’m improving or not.

I’m starting to prepare my application for scholarships to do MSc in Europe. One of the requirements, of course, is the motivational letter. I was interested: how personal should the essay be? How many hints about your passion in the chosen MSc programme are ideal? I don’t want to sound pathetic and unrealistic in my application and will try to convey as realistic motivational goals as possible in the letter. But are there boundaries where being too personal in your statements will be considered a negative thing?

I have already graduate from a master degree in Europe (Software Engineering) , and applied for another master degree (Informatic) in Germany (TUM).

I have applied with my BSc. degree diploma and transcripts to the German university. My scores in bachelor is quit good, and convincing. The issue is they have invited me to an interview. I guess they want to know why i am still motivated for another master, while i have one?

Here are my motivations:

  1. The focus of my first master was Software engineering, meanwhile now i am interested to learn about distributed systems, networks.

  2. I am looking for a careers which needs both the programming and network, and i think this master programme would help me. I am already good as a developer but i need to improve my skills in network.

  3. I have some raw idea over the Bitcoin, Blockchain , and Internet of Things, and i need to be in touch with some experienced teachers who have deep knowledge in this fields.

  4. Germany is an awesome country. I love the language and culture, and i think there are lot’s of job opportunities for IT people.I have some basic command in German, and i am going to advance them during the programe.

Do you think these motivations make sense for them?

In a nutshell, I’m drawing circles on images for most of my day (more precisely, ROIs around cellular components in fluorescence imaging). I volunteer to do this on weekdays from 10am to 7pm, and I stay late until 9pm once or twice a week to finish the day’s set of images when it’s considerably large.

I’m spending at least 45 hours per week drawing circles. I’m working efficiently (it takes me on average of 15 minutes per page of stitched images), I try not to take breaks to maintain momentum unless I’m noticeably slowing down (and limit them to 10 minutes), and I try not to take more than 30 minutes for lunch.

I understand that monotonous tasks are a key part of research, and it’s suitable work for me as an undergraduate (as they’re low-risk and require little experience). I’m also lucky to do research so early in my career. But in the evenings, I begin to think of all the other undergraduates out there getting ahead doing amazing work (like Martin McLaughlin, who already produced publishable, original work in his first year), and I feel discouraged and expendable.

And it’s entirely my fault, too. If I spent my time in high school more effectively by learning Python coding for automation, statistics, and understanding more of the relevant literature, I could be so much more useful to my supervisor doing more stimulating complex tasks.

It’s been a month since I’ve started, and the long hours of this repetitive task are wearing me down. But I don’t want to let my supervisor down, so I intend to keep getting the daily image set done each day. She hasn’t required me to set these hours or get the image set done each day, but I’ve been doing this for so long that it’s expected (though she’s always very appreciative each time I submit, and she works longer hours than me).

I plan to continue until the project is complete when my supervisor graduates in December (lessening hours to the evenings when classes resume). Until then and for future research opportunities, how can I keep myself motivated with monotonous tasks and avoid burning out?

I am half way through the first year of my PhD (physics) and I find myself faced with the following problem related to research discipline and learning new techniques while doing a PhD. The problem is probably specific to my personality, but I am hoping that some people can relate and provide their experiences/advice.

Essentially I find it hard to actually learn anything new, especially when it comes to techniques. Let me clarify by describing how I read a paper

  • When reading a paper I usually read just enough to ‘understand’ it on a functional level. I.e. afterwards I know: a) What has been done b) How it fits with some other things I know c) If it is useful for the research my group is doing and the projects I am working on. When c) applies I read ‘in more detail’. That usually just involves following the derivations on a functional level. I.e. afterwards I would know a), b), c) for every part of the derivation.

The problem is that I don’t actually learn any techniques this way. I could not sit down and do what has been done in the paper, even though I could tell you exactly what has been done in the paper and (for the ones I read in detail) how it has been done.

That isn’t too bad if you want to come up with new research ideas, I even found that you can solve some problems this way, but you can’t actually write the solution down. The latter unfortunately is very necessary if you want to write a paper.

I have a similar problem with textbooks that I was going to describe here, but for the sake of brevity1 I will spare you the details.

To me the situation is a bit worrisome, especially because that did not happen to me during my undergraduate. When doing supervision work and exercises I always felt like at the end I understood things on a level where I could do them again. When people asked me questions about it I could not only tell them how to do the question in principle, but also point out technically details that you encounter along the way. I am worried that I will never reach such a level of understanding in any new areas the way I am approaching it at the moment.

I suspect that one of my problems is that I have become really impatient somewhere in between feeling the pressure of trying to produce valuable research and trying to learn things as quickly as possible. This creates the feeling that I am unable to ‘sit down’ and ‘actually do something’ 2 .

So, reading my question above again I don’t feel like I have pinned the point down very well at all, but this is my 3rd try, so I’ll go with it and see if people have some advice. The title question is going to be: How to deal with impatience when starting off in research?


1 Really not an appropriate description of this question anymore…

2 Don’t get me wrong, I am not procrastinating. I am doing a lot of work and I also enjoy the work very much. It is just not very effective and when I think after each day what I have achieved, there is a lingering fear that I just wasted a lot of time.

Here is what I feel whenever I find something interesting and feel like pursuing it :

  1. Oh so I like X (Computer Graphics), let me read up papers/books about it.
  2. Ok let me begin with reading up Y (OpenGL)
  3. But Y needs W (Linear Algebra)
  4. Well reading up Z (Probability) first makes more sense.
  5. Umm, you shouldn’t jump to Z without learning U (Permutation/Combination).
  6. And how come I forget about reading V (Number theory)
  7. And what not..

I always end up searching and reading up “Best books to begin A/B/C/D..” instead of actually making myself begin somewhere. This consumes all my energy and I never really start.

Q. Have others faced this ? Q. How do you handle this and actually begin somewhere ?

Any help would be really appreciated.


Background : I am a working professional, with Masters in Computer Science (fascinated with Computer Graphics etc). Its been two years since my masters but I still kind of miss academia, my thesis work and other interesting stuff I did there. My current work is also pretty interesting and partially overlaps with my interest areas. However, other than work, I would really want to continue doing things related to my masters side by side (and MAY BE take up a Phd somewhere down the line). But the never ending feeling of not knowing anything takes over.

Its not that I am being forced to study any of this. Its purely for my personal interests that I want to pursue it.

I am an asperger guy and since i was young i had problems at school and my studies,I cant get motivated and also have a videogame addiction,Thats a nasty combination for studies…

I live in mexico,Jobs here are paid really low even the proffesional careers after the university,So i dont see a point to study or work at my home country but i have no other option.

When i try to study its like all my energy is sucked by a blackhole behind my head,I start feeling weary and bored,Right now i am at high school first semester and i already failed the math exam,The next one is chemistry but its the same story,I cant study even for a single hour! And if i force myself i forget everything after a day or two because i cant reinforce my knowledge by studying more time.

I dont know what to do,I cant get motivated and i suffer from a big depression caused by our current global society,But the fault is really due to the low salary here in mexico.

Help me please,Forgive my bad english,I cant even focus at classrooms because all my schoolmates are noisy and they behave like monkeys.