Starting off research in grad school

In summary, starting grad school can be overwhelming and it is normal to not fully understand the details of papers in a new field. It is important to use this as a starting point and to seek out review articles to gain a better understanding. Expectations for grad school, such as coursework and publications, will vary depending on the program and should be discussed with your advisor. Generally, research becomes the main focus after completing coursework and publications are expected, typically around three for a PhD.
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Hi,
I'm starting off grad school this fall. My adviser mailed me some published papers that have been written by our group. I've been through them, and although I understand the basic idea, I don't understand many of the formulas and theories used.
Is this normal? Usually, how do people start off research in grad school? What is expected from me in terms of publications?

Thanks!
 
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You shouldn't be asking us what is expected of you: you should be asking your advisor.
 
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Yes, it's normal not to understand the details of papers in a field you're new to. The trick, really, is to use that as a starting point and go and search for review articles that will help to ground you in the field. These can then serve as a basis for dialogue between you and your supervisor when you meet.

Expectations will vary from place to place. In the systems I've had experience with the typical model is to start with coursework for a year. During this time you're also expected to do background reading in your field, chose a supervisor and a project. In most cases you don't really dive into the research side of things until you're done with courses, but then... research is your full-time job.

As far as publications (and other expectations such as hours, conference attendance, etc.) go, this is something you will establish with your supervisor (preferably sooner rather than later). It can vary. In my field, in my program we expect to see roughly three publications for a PhD.
 
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  • #4
Thanks Choppy...that's some really good insight!
 
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Hello and congratulations on starting grad school! It is completely normal to feel overwhelmed and not fully understand all the formulas and theories used in published papers, especially at the beginning of your research journey. Remember, these papers are the result of years of research and may be written for a more specialized audience. Don't be discouraged, as you will gain a better understanding as you delve deeper into your own research and coursework.

As for how people typically start off their research in grad school, it can vary depending on your field and specific program. Some students may begin by conducting literature reviews and familiarizing themselves with the current state of research in their field, while others may jump right into experiments or data analysis. Your adviser and other faculty members will be able to guide you in this process and help you develop a research plan that aligns with your interests and goals.

In terms of publications, it is important to remember that quality is more important than quantity. While publications are a valuable aspect of grad school and can help boost your CV and future job prospects, it is more important to focus on producing high-quality research that contributes to your field. Don't feel pressured to rush into publishing, as it takes time to conduct thorough research and produce meaningful results. Your adviser and other mentors will be able to provide guidance and support in this area as well.

Overall, starting off research in grad school can be daunting, but don't be afraid to ask questions, seek guidance, and take your time to fully understand the concepts and theories in your field. Best of luck in your research journey!
 

1. How do I choose a research topic for my grad school studies?

Choosing a research topic can be a daunting task, but the key is to find a topic that you are passionate about and that aligns with your academic interests and goals. Start by brainstorming ideas and discussing them with your advisor or peers. You can also look at recent publications in your field to get inspiration and see what areas are currently being explored.

2. What is the best way to manage my time while conducting research in grad school?

Time management is crucial in grad school, especially when it comes to research. Make a schedule and prioritize your tasks, setting aside dedicated time for research each day. Create a to-do list and break down your research into smaller, manageable tasks. It's also important to take breaks and avoid burnout.

3. How do I find and utilize resources for my research?

There are many resources available for research in grad school, including academic databases, libraries, and online sources. Your school's library and research department can help you navigate these resources and provide training on how to use them effectively. Don't be afraid to reach out to experts in your field for guidance and advice as well.

4. How can I ensure the ethical integrity of my research?

Ethical integrity is critical in research, and it's important to familiarize yourself with the ethical principles and guidelines in your field. Your school may also have an institutional review board (IRB) that oversees research and ensures ethical standards are met. Always obtain proper consent from participants and follow ethical procedures in data collection, analysis, and reporting.

5. How can I balance my research with other responsibilities in grad school?

Balancing research with coursework, teaching, and other responsibilities can be challenging in grad school. It's important to communicate with your advisor and create a realistic timeline for your research. Prioritize tasks based on deadlines and delegate responsibilities when possible. Don't forget to also take care of yourself and make time for self-care and relaxation.

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