Post grad student resources - what do y'all need?
June 2, 2013 9:34 PM   Subscribe

Provided those needs are cheap, and can be provided on a website run by your Faculty.

I've seen this question but it's 5 years on now, and I have the fun opportunity to put together a collection of resources for Higher Degree Research Students. Some of the things the academic in charge has requested include link about academic writing, submitting to journals, creating and delivering effective presentations and ways for students to connect who won't tend meet other students in classes or across the campuses.

Other suggestions include one liners from academics - most common mistake (or mistakes I made) during PhD process, short videos of other students, just getting their experiences, ideas, feelings; a wiki of how to stuff. And useful contacts within faculty, process of PhD application etc, ethics info, uni support available (including IT, library, NESB, desk space) and so on.

One of the things I'm concerned about is there being too much information, or the information being too dense and inaccessible - students have enough to do without wading through heaps of stuff to find what they need. If there are other things you hate about resource pages, let me know.

If you have excellent links to websites for post graduate students, that would also be awesome (please include a short phrase explaining why you've included it).

If it really matters, the area of research is Education (as in pre-school, primary, middle school, high school, learning difficulties, all curriculum areas, etc).
posted by b33j to Education (8 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I just graduated! And while I was fortunate enough to have a couple job offers, many of my colleagues are not so lucky. And at least in my department, professional practices and job-related assistance was not as well developed as I would have liked. So yes to anything falling under that umbrella.

Format-wise, although I am a very visual person I generally dislike video if I could get the same content from text, since video takes so much longer to convey the same message. If video actually adds value, then by all means.

I'd try to stick the helpful but not exciting links in a group near the bottom of the website (ethics info is in this category).

What would I consider to be a huge draw that you've not listed? A google docs or wiki page that all faculty can update with job leads and other opportunities they've heard about personally. Not a repeat of what's listed in the Chronicle, but more like, "Hey my old grad student Joe just opened a design shop and he's let me know that he's interested in hiring a full and a part time silkscreen tech. Here's his contact info/let me know if you're interested and I'll pass it on."

I also cannot recommend the Chronicle forums enough. They are a GOLDMINE of information, and they helped fill a lot of my own gaps in knowledge.
posted by vegartanipla at 10:02 PM on June 2, 2013

Best answer: Oh, I just reread your question and think you may have meant post (undergraduate) grad(uation) student resources? I can't tell. If so, almost all of what I said still stands, but I'd also add some truly realistic data-driven analyses of what the academic career track actually looks like. Because it is brutally competitive and a giant opportunity cost in terms of other career tracks and salary loss.
posted by vegartanipla at 10:08 PM on June 2, 2013

Response by poster: Sorry, yes this is for students who are studying their Masters & PhDs. But I don't think it's a bad idea to have a stream of job opportunities linked somewhere, so they can see what they're aiming for.
posted by b33j at 10:46 PM on June 2, 2013

Best answer: There's a ton of stuff out there, especially on twitter — Thesis Whisperer, tons of articles on the dire job market.

I run a blog for my university's grad students, and they all tell me that they want money and jobs, and I do my best to find them that content. The most popular blog posts according to google analytics are for awards and jobs, so what they say does match up with what they do. (Sometimes people tell you what they think you want to hear, so it was good to have confirmation.)

Do put some kind of analytics on the website so that you know what kinds of pages people are clicking on. And do create your pages so that the analytics are meaningful. (Eg. one huge "Resources" page is meaningless, but separate pages for Jobs, Awards, Thesis, Resources, etc. will give you more clues.)

The big phrase you need to know: "Just in time." There's a TON of different kinds of info that you've listed, but people will not look for it until it's almost too late. (We just closed the annual awards application process for our private awards and I saw a huge visitor peak on the very day of the application deadline, despite everyone having gotten notice by email 2-3 months ago.)

Oh, and speaking of email — it doesn't work. Everyone gets way too much of it from the university, so they tend to delete it on sight. (See most recent PhD comic:
posted by wenat at 10:50 PM on June 2, 2013

Best answer: I finished my PhD a little over a year ago. What I really wanted from the university's web site was stuff specific to the university: clear, up-to-date, unambiguous guides to all the rules and regulations, with contact details to follow up. Because every time I needed to nail something down about submission dates, visa requirements, travel grants, and so on, I basically had to write that day off for research purposes and trudge round campus talking to a dozen different people claiming contradictory things or redirecting me to other people who were out of the office or had no idea what I was talking about, etc. etc. -- I remember, while trying to find the exact deadline for submitting my Master's, thinking "am I perhaps the first person ever to submit a Master's at this university? Because nobody seems to have a clue how it's meant to work." Coming up to PhD submission, I discovered that there was a workshop devoted to walking through the bureaucracy involved, run by the very few people who actually understood it; it was a life-saver.

A grad-editable wiki would be great: an excellent way to collect the information that inevitably falls through the gaps of the official sites. My department was putting one together at the time I left, and it was sucking in loads of handy information that had never previously had a proper home (other than various people's brains).

The more general-level stuff -- effective presentations, submissions, common mistakes etc. -- I didn't really care about. Because that stuff's the same wherever you're studying. It's nice to have but it's not essential that my university provide it. If I want to know about, say, effective presentations, the web and the library are absolutely awash with resources telling me all about them. I don't really need the same stuff served up at campus level, though of course there's no harm in it.
posted by pont at 11:48 PM on June 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: My PhD department had a grad student wiki, and it was pretty great. Lots of how tos, lots of lists of who to talk to about what, lots of info about different classes to take and TA, also a page of links to each of us where we could introduce ourselves to our peers however we wanted.

However, I will say that our wiki was student created and was actually password protected specifically so that faculty couldn't see what was there, allowing us to be more blunt and candid than we would have been on a public site. So I don't know how well that fits your project.
posted by hydropsyche at 6:25 AM on June 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks, all really useful.
posted by b33j at 6:17 PM on June 4, 2013

Response by poster: The initial results.
posted by b33j at 4:32 PM on July 18, 2013

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