Five on a Friday: Helpful links for graduate students at all stages


Five on a Friday

This year I am finishing up my final semester as a graduate student. In the coming weeks, many postgraduates (as we are called in the UK) will be looking toward the submission of dissertations, defenses, and graduation. Other students will be looking, with anticipation, to the start of their graduate school career in the fall.

Today I’d like to share a few articles that have inspired me at different times over the past few years as a postgraduate. They have given me a bit more clarity and direction, while providing some solid advice on various facets of being a graduate student. Here are five helpful links for your graduate student life for this Five on a Friday:

1. Perspectives on History’s article series ‘From Notes to Narrative: The Art of Crafting a Dissertation or Monograph’, beginning with “On Taking Notes”

Applicable to writing both your PhD dissertation (or thesis as it’s called in the UK) and future long-form projects, this series of articles from the American Historical Association provided some of the earliest inspiration as I thought about completing my thesis. As the longest piece of work I had attempted, I often found the thesis daunting and unwieldy. This series helps break down large writing projects into smaller, manageable steps.

2. Karin Wulf on ‘Efficient Reading

On a similar note, you will likely be doing A LOT of reading in graduate school—for seminars, comprehensive exams, and research. Knowing how to tackle that stack of books and articles in a systematic and strategic way can save you not only time, but sanity. Let’s face it, you can’t read everything cover to cover in graduate school. Wulf provides an excellent formula that I’ve been using for years. Not convinced? Read the anonymous reply as well: Fish Guts. Or, How to read a Book, a Sentence, and a Page.

3. Doing a PhD far from home? How to get settled and feel at home in your new surroundings from Pubs and Publications

My friend and former office mate, Emily Betz, wrote this great piece on the challenges of starting a PhD when you’re far from family and friends. She talks about the importance of finding community among other students and pursuing interests that will help support you through what can feel like a very isolating experience. It’s a great reminder that you aren’t really alone!


4. Junto member Casey Schmitt on building and maintaining a Digital Identity in Graduate School

Welcome to the twenty-first century friends! You’re not only expected to produce high-quality research in graduate school—you need to have a digital presence. Casey Schmitt talks about how to go about building your digital identity as a researcher through social media, blogging, and the like. I made a “professional” Twitter account not long after I started my PhD and it has opened up some really great conversations about what goes on in my field of study.

5. From Dissertation to Book: An Interview with Jill Petty

There are TONS of articles and books out there on how to turn your dissertation into your first book. This one is for the very end of your time as a graduate student. If you’re like me, this is preeminent in your mind. Petty and others emphasize taking a step back from the project and letting it rest before diving into revisions. They also talk about how the dissertation is not the same as a book and what editors will be looking for in a proposal.

Bonus round!
May is Mental Health Awareness month. As many seasoned and veteran grad students will tell you, graduate school is not easy. Mental health continues to be one of the hardest hit areas of life during the process. I particularly enjoyed this light-hearted post about a dog taking care of its PhD student and the importance of self-care, not as a trendy buzzword, but as an integral part of your graduate success strategy.

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