I am currently in a problem-solving mode of my PhD (theory, middle stage). I am working on something which is incremental on the last half a year. Until now, I did not get anything non-trivial. I noticed that I have become slow as compared to the initial two years of my PhD.

I am wondering how to speed up my research. I have tried to scan as many papers as possible. I am also trying to discuss my research problem with other students, but it is not working.

Question: Is it natural that you become slower in the middle of your PhD? How can I speed up my research?

I’m a Physics PhD student in a US university who qualified for the PhD level and waiting for the comprehensive test.

In the first year of my PhD, I wasn’t able to cope up with the pressure and that caused bad grades. The result from first and second semester is below:

A, B-, B ; A, B, B+.

In the second year, I eventually understood the pressure and was able to cope up the coursework pressure along with the research pressure. And, eventually I did well in the second year. My result is:

A, A, B+ ; A+, A+, A

My question is how bad influence will my overall score appear to the academia and industry?

NOTE: My supervisor is pretty happy with my research work.

I got a scholarship offer which requires me to work for a financial institution for three days (24 hours) a week. The scholarship is quite generous (50k AUD per year). Is it worth it to take it if I don’t have to take the responsibility of TA and RA? I am just afraid it will influence my academic performance during my PhD life. After all, I take a PhD for making myself have a position in the academia world. If my publication record will be influenced by the three-day work, I’d rather not take this scholarship and turn to self-fund(I don’t have any other scholarship). Can someone who has already experienced a PhD life help me estimate the pros and cons of this scholarship?

To preface, I imagine this might come off really immature, given that I am 30 years old. I joined a university as a PostDoc after completing my PhD 6 months ago. I am yet to publish anything after joining here, I have been feeling burnt out and disorganised. I was planning to join the industry within a year of joining (It was initially envisaged as a one-year contract, but it got extended for three more years, due to my professor getting new funding, but that’s beside the point). My professor is very understanding, and he is very motivated. His team is getting into theoretical machine learning and the papers he published are already making strides and catching everyone’s attention.

I, on the other hand, am just starting in the area of data science. I am an average coder, and my math skills are also pretty average. If I work hard I can crank out some papers ( that is how I finished my PhD), but lately I have been feeling very unmotivated and distracted. I have a few family problems (I am gay from a conservative family), but that is no excuse for not being motivated, I know. I tried out to be a data scientist at an internet advertising firm but was rejected after the on-site interview following a Skype interview, the reason being that my practical skills were not on par (I did a mainly theoretical PhD, and my knowledge of practical algorithms is lacking).

On the other hand, my colleague who is a PhD student under my prof (only 25!) has been publishing and his works on machine learning (also theoretical), have been attracting researchers from companies like Facebook and Google, at a recent conference. As for me, the very idea of going to a conference again gives me shudders.

I am out of ideas and out of steam to be honest, but I really want to create pathbreaking research and join a top company to start my career as a data scientist. But I feel lost.

To have a good CV for an eventual job hunt, I need at least one good publication during this year of my post-doc but all the work I have done have led me nowhere to be honest.

For context: I did my PhD on random graph analysis.

I really need some guidance. I know I should have figured this out already given I am a 30 year old graduate, but unfortunately I haven’t. I can blame that on my depression, but how long can I do that for? Anybody who has been in the same situation as me? Any input is welcome.

I initially posted this on workplace.se, but was told to come here. Please let me know if this is the wrong place for this kind of stuff, and I will take it down.

To preface, I imagine this might come off really immature, given that I am 30 years old. I joined a university as a PostDoc after completing my PhD 6 months ago. I am yet to publish anything after joining here, I have been feeling burnt out and disorganised. I was planning to join the industry within a year of joining (It was initially envisaged as a one year contract, but it got extended for 3 more years, due to my professor getting new funding, but that’s beside the point). My professor is very understanding, and he is very motivated. His team is getting into theoretical machine learning and the papers he published are already making strides and catching everyone’s attention.

I, on the other hand, am just starting in the area of datascience. I am an average coder, and my math skills are also pretty average. If I work hard I can crank out some papers ( that is how I finished my PhD), but lately I have been feeling very unmotivated and distracted. I have a few family problems (I am gay from a conservative family), but that is no excuse for not being motivated, I know. I tried out to be a Datascientist at an internet advertising firm but was rejected after the on-site interview following a Skype interview, the reason being that my practical skills were not on par (I did a mainly theoretical PhD, and my knowledge of practical algos is lacking).

On the other hand my colleague who is a PhD student under my prof (only 25!) has been publishing and his works on machine learning (also theoretical), have been attracting researchers from companies like Facebook and Google, at a recent conference. As for me, the very idea of going to a conference again gives me shudders.

I am out of ideas and out of steam to be honest, but I really want to create pathbreaking research and join a top company to start my career as a datascientist. But I feel lost.

To have a good CV for an eventual job hunt, I need at least one good publication during this year of my post-doc but all the work I have done have led me nowhere to be honest.

For context: I did my PhD on random graph analysis.

I really need some guidance. I know I should have figured this out already given I am a 30 year old graduate, but unfortunately I haven’t. I can blame that on my depression, but how long can I do that for? Anybody who has been in the same situation as me? Any input is welcome.

I’m PhD student and I’ll be graduating in May (next year). I’ve been getting into discipline-based educational research (DBER), including developing tools, running projects, a paper or two, and applying to grants. I do this in addition to my standard research. My DBER work is almost exclusively applications of what I develop in my (primary) research (quantitative biology).

My goal is a TT job in the future. Would this be considered as general research productivity, or mark me as primarily an educator?

I am a PhD student in computer science (theory). I am worried about my productivity. I try to do as much as possible. I used to take four courses per semester during my first two years of studying. Now I have started doing research. In the last 4 months, I have only read 2-3 proofs and one research paper. It took 2-3 weeks to go over each mathematical proof.

Question: How do I know I have done enough work in one semester? I mean is there any parameter to measure the work that I have done in the last semester? I have heard some students read only one research paper per one semester.

I can get feedback from my research supervisor, but the problem is he might say I did enough work just to keep my motivation high.

I am writing my master thesis in game theory and realized one type of situation where I am often stuck for a long time and feel frustration creeping in. It is, to no surprise, when facing a complex situation: one with too many variables or different cases to look at.

Example setting: I build a model and look at some equilibrium points as results. The different equilibria are conditioned on many parameters such as the income of people, their social ties, their level of empathy etc. My task is to understand these conditions in order to be able to generalize some of the results.

Example being stuck: I a-priori think that the plan to crack this issue is to look at each equilibrium individually and understand the conditions for that case and then move on and in the end put everything together, I know it is going to be annoying but at some point it will just work. Unfortunately, I often fail to stick to the plan when the conditions for a certain equilibrium point are hard to understand, my mind starts to go back and forth, loosing focus and in the end failing to understand the situation at hand. I usually succeed by repeatedly going the same way again and again, but it is very costly.

I know this isn’t something specific to me, this happens to many/most people when the problem contains too many cases, variables or causal links.

Do you have tips or resources on how to best handle problems like these?

At my place of work, among my other responsibilities I am responsible for following up with and scheduling participants in our longitudinal study. This study has been going on since the late 80’s, and many of these subjects have been coming in since they were children. For context this is my first job since completing undergrad.

At first productivity was high. I was scheduling more subjects per month than my PI had seen in several years. As time went on, it became apparent that this glut of subjects I scheduled in the first few months was a result of a build-up during a transitional period shortly before I was hired. Not many subjects were scheduled for a span of about four months before I was hired, and these neglected subjects were the cause of my high numbers.

Since then productivity has steadily lowered.

I then began blaming myself. Spending hours on the phone each day attempting to contact subjects, while not difficult, is draining. I do sometimes procrastinate when I should be working. However after months of serious attempts to bring my numbers up, I feel comfortable stating that my work is not the issue.

It seems apparent that the study, or at least it’s current phase, may be winding down. Due to the nature of our research, many of our subjects have a troubled home life, severe substance abuse issues, and are estranged from their families.

Often our contact information for our subjects is out of date. Many of our subjects use pre-paid phones and change their number often. Our study is also based in NYC, and many of our subjects have moved several times over the years. I currently use White Pages Premium, White Pages Pro, Facebook, and just googling people’s names when the info we have in our records does not suffice.

On top of this, many of our subjects are now at an age where it is simply not worth it for them to come in. They either make more than what we offer in compensation at their jobs, are too busy with their careers, or have family to take care of.

My PI has been concerned with productivity as we will be applying to renew a grant soon. I’m trying very hard to bring in more of our subjects, but it feels like there is only so much I can do.

As this is my first job, I’m worried that this could seriously affect my career/hopes for grad school if my PI feels that I am to blame. How should I navigate this situation? Are there additional resources for tracking down these subjects I should suggest to my PI?

From my limited experience, many universities in North America with two-semester (full year) type schedule has the following timeline,

  • Semester 1: Early September – Late November (or Late August – Early November)
  • Semester 2: Early January – Late April (or late January – Early May)

During each semester, the students are expected to take 4 – 5 courses. After a designated number of years, the student graduates.

Is there a case to be made for adjusting how academic semesters are currently scheduled in North America (for selected schools)? My question is not whether or not it is feasible/do-able to implement these schedules at this moment in time. I understand that we need to respect the highschool-university-research/industry pipeline, which has adapted itself to the fall-spring schedule.

But I wonder if there is a case to be made (for selected schools, for instance) to adjust these dates to something that takes into consideration of factors such as regional climate or local culture (or some other factors).

For example, here is a possible schedule,

  • Semester 1: Early January – Late April (or late January – Early May)
  • Semester 2: Early September – Late November (or Late August – Early November)

The advantage of this schedule could be for high school students to have more time to decide on their major and more time to prepare for their dream universities, instead of having to prepare for it during the semester when they also need to do well on their coursework and other extracurricular activities.

Here is another schedule,

  • Semester 1: Early March – Late June
  • Semester 2: Early August – Late October

For instance, for schools located in the Northern parts of North America, this schedule takes into account of the climate of that region, which is characterized by cold weather and short daylight hours, both of which contributes to lower productivity and even seasonal depression. This schedule takes full advantage of the warmer summer months, where students can get more work done. During the winter, instead of staying at school, students can take internships abroad in warmer regions of the world. Furthermore, it gives high school student ample time to explore and decide on their future studies (or “taking a gap year“).

Do these alternative proposals make sense? What are the potential drawbacks? Are there universities that do implement these alternative schedules?