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.

This question already has an answer here:

I am a math researcher working in number theory. During my college years I heard all the stories of great mathematicians, icons of the subject who dedicated most of their time to mathematics research (think Gauss, Euler etc). And that motivated me. I always seemed to do well in math at college. I secured top ranks at graduate and undergraduate exams. I cleared the national entrance exam in mathematics (CSIR, India) and got admitted into a Ph.D. programme. Now that I’m pursuing a Ph.D things are not as I had envisioned. There are days where I just don’t feel like it. Some parts of math are hard and it seems like a drag. Also I conduct classes thrice a week which I am not enthusiastic about and on some days I just don’t wanna do it.

I have this idea of a perfect job where you come in to work everyday and are captivated by what you do and everything just flows. But that’s not what I am experiencing. Is this normal? I’m confused. Its not like I have lost interest rather that I’m not as in to it as I would like to be.

I’ve just started as postdoctoral researcher at a great institute. I imagine that they expect me to achieve good results and teach some classes.

But honestly, I feel that I still need to learn a lot more on many topics. So, is it a good idea to dedicate a few hours of my day to learn new topics? Or should I focus only on what I already know and on how to apply it in order to obtain more results?

It is a new stage of my life and any tip that may improve me as a researcher is very welcomed.