The PhD Life

I cry when I work


Doing a dissertation is an emotionally draining process. It is known.  I have many different ways to cope, but I sometimes find myself crying.

I am not alone in this, my sister was told at the beginning of her PhD Journey that if she did not cry at least twice in her first quarter, then there was something wrong with her.


How to Read an Academic Paper

If you are brand-new to research, you will soon discover that academic papers should come with an instruction manual to understand.

The first time I read an article, I felt like I was going to cry! I could only understand one out of ten words. At some point, I decided to blame my dyslexia and English as a second language (because the alternative would have been me being too dumb to read). I thought that I had made a terrible mistake by deciding to do research. And was experiencing the terrifying Impostor Syndrome.

Thankfully, I was wrong! It just takes time and a bit of know-how to get used to the esoteric world of academic papers.

I will now discuss a not-at-all-scientific or responsible way to read an academic paper in three easy steps! (more…)

Day 27: The Right Work Environment

Library of Congress Main Reading Room

The Library of Congress

Finding the right environment to work and learn is very important for anyone. Just as it is important, it is challenging. Which is why there are countless articles written about how to create a workspace that allows you to focus (see almost any article at Lifehacker, for example).


The Dyslexic Grad Student’s Tool Box

What do you need in order to succeed in grad school?

✓ Hard Work?
✓ Determination?
✓ Passion?
✓ Luck?

Absolutely! And if you are dyslexic, you are going to need a lot more than that. This is my personal Dyslexic Grad Student Toolbox. (more…)

Day 6: “It does not do to Dwell on Tickets and Forget to Dissertate”

Harry Potter Play Confirmation

I had high hopes for today. Wake up early, get Harry Potter Play Tickets, work on my dissertation the rest of the day.

I was so wrong. (more…)

Day 1: The 100 Day Challenge


I passed my Comprehensive Exams on September 23, 2014. It has been over a year and I am STILL NOT a candidate. Sigh. (more…)

Organizing what you Learn

Regardless of what you are studying, you have to consume an incredible amount of information. And you have to keep it all in order so that you do not waste time remembering something you read several years ago.

When I started my PhD, I started a spreadsheet. Every paper I read (and want to remember) gets its own entry. This was very useful as I studied for comps. And it continues to be useful as I write my dissertation proposal. Also, make sure you back-up your data! I lost a lot of my entries due to hard drive shenanigans.