Research is hard. And not for the reasons you might expect! Sure, my daily life involves equations which look impenetrable to the layman. But by the time you’ve spent years studying them, they aren’t so terrifying!
The real difficulty in research is psychological. The natural state for a scientist is failure – most ideas simply do not succeed! Developing the resilience, maturity and sheer bloody mindedness to just keep on plugging away is a vital but tough skill.
This letter, written by an experienced academic to her PhD student is a wonderfully candid account of the minefield of academic criticism, both professional and personal. What’s more, it lays bare some important coping strategies – I certainly wish I’d read it before embarking on my PhD.
Above all, this letter is an admission of humanity. As researchers, we face huge challenges in our careers. But the very personal process of responding to them is precisely what makes us better scientists, and perhaps even improves us as people.
This letter was written by an experienced academic at ANU to her PhD student, who had just presented his research to a review panel and was still licking her wounds.
The student sent it to me and I thought it was a great response I asked the academic in question, and the student who received it, if I could publish it. I wish all of us could have such nuanced and thoughtfu feedback during the PhD. I hope you enjoy it.
Yeah, it’s a…
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