It is the beginning of a new academic term and many people will just be starting their PhD. For my first blog post I would like to share a couple of important lessons I have learnt over the past year of my PhD.
Write Everything Down
Make sure you write everything you do/hear/think down. From day 1. No exceptions – you will forget. Write down every experiment you learn and every thought or idea you have (especially ideas about any research papers you have read). Write down conversations you have had with people when you have been given direction, information or advice. It’s also important to store your notes properly so you can find the information again. They could be hand written or stored on the computer – it doesn’t matter – just make sure you know how your system works. Creating an efficient system will save you time later.
Speak to People
Talk to as many people as you possibly can – especially the people in your own lab/team (you would be surprised at how many people don’t do this). If your team/lab doesn’t have a weekly/monthly get together – why not suggest setting one up? Spending time creating contacts will be invaluable as you continue through your PhD . You might work with these people for 3 months or 3 years . You want to enjoy your PhD, it’s good to have people to share the good times and bad times with – do not think that you can do your PhD on your own. Most importantly do not be scared of asking or talking to other people if you are stuck or think that something is going wrong – speak up. Time is precious so if you are unsure about something ask, ask & ask! Don’t be afraid of asking or approaching people. Don’t just ask one person either, get advice from a number of people – more than often there will not be a right or wrong answer – gather as much information as you can so you can make an informed decision.