Although this blog is primarily aimed at technical communications – I am open to posting advice on other academic topics of relevance to university and college students. Today’s post comes at the request of one of our readers – who asked:
“I was hoping that you could do a post/ advise on what prospective students (Masters, PhD, etc) should consider before picking a supervisor. Read the rest of this entry »
Today I’m very excited to bring you our first guest post on this blog. It was written by my colleague Dr. Evan Davies and it’s all about how to handle your citations and references correctly in a formal report or thesis. I’m sure you will find this information extremely useful! Thanks Evan for sharing this great advice with us! Read the rest of this entry »
Last week I gave some advice for preparing a great conference presentation; this week I’m offering tips on how to deliver that conference presentation effectively. This is the third in a series – so if you’ve not seen any of the earlier ones, I suggest you go back now and read those two earlier posts.
Here are the 5 most common mistakes I see people making when presenting at a conference…
A big part of academic life is attending and presenting your research at conferences. Depending upon your specific discipline, presentations may be passé and poster sessions are the norm. I’m sorry to say, that’s not the case in my field. Why am I sorry about that? Because I, like many engineers and scientists, have an extremely low boredom threshold. The thought of being trapped in a room for 2 to 3 days, passively watching and listening to tediously bad presentations for hours and hours, is truly unbearable. And, let’s face it, most of them are bad… very bad… So, in the interest of self-preservation, here’s my advice for preparing an effective and engaging conference presentation…
One thing I encounter consistently and frequently, from undergrads right up to PhD students, is general confusion about properly referencing source material. Whether it be an assignment, conference presentation, or term paper – students repeatedly present photos, graphs, tables, prose, and concepts painstakingly collected and/or developed by others, with absolutely no acknowledgements to the people who actually own that intellectual property. These students don’t (all) intentionally plagiarise, they just don’t seem to realize that copying the thoughts, ideas, or products of someone else’s efforts actually constitutes plagiarism. So if you’re a college or university student, read on and learn how to get it right… Read the rest of this entry »
It seems unfair but, after years of hard work slaving over the books and suffering through lectures, labs and exams, the new grad then has the onerous task of finding a job so that s/he can join the workforce. This can be an especially discouraging endeavour if the job market is highly competitive in your chosen field. Since nobody gets a job without an interview, and most potential employers decide who to interview based solely on the résumés and cover letters they receive, it pays to do a really super job on both of these documents. My experience has always been that everyone thinks that their résumé and cover letter are both already awesome (and it’s usually not). Nobody ever seems to think that a weak resume or cover letter could be the reason why they’re not getting calls and interviews. However, chances are, that is at least part of the problem. Read the rest of this entry »
Most students need an academic reference sooner or later. Perhaps you are applying for a job or a scholarship – or maybe you are trying to get into a graduate program? Maybe you’re applying for professional certification or registration as a licensed professional; whatever the reason, getting an academic reference can be notoriously frustrating, especially if you’ve been out of school for a while. Most professors dislike doing them, primarily because they’re time consuming and it can be quite frustrating trying to come up with sufficient information to do them well. As a result, it’s not uncommon for professors to procrastinate on these, or to avoid them completely. If you’re a student seeking an academic reference, my advice is to make it as easy as possible for the professor to do it quickly and effectively. To help you do this, here below are some tips for getting a high quality academic reference. Many of these tips also apply when requesting other types of references.
There are many types of technical presentations that you may be called upon to do. Perhaps you have to prepare one for a graduate course term project, to impress a client or a prospective employer, to teach something to a group of people, or to present your paper at a conference. There are important design and content features specific to each of these types of presentation. However, there are a few basic tips that apply to all presentations and these are what I’ll be discussing in this post. Read the rest of this entry »
I’ve noticed recently that a lot of people make their way to this site while searching for advice on how to write to a potential PhD supervisor. I’ve also noticed that many of the letters/emails that I personally get on this topic are actually irrelevant to me, poorly written, or both. So, I figured it might be a good idea to put a little bit of advice out there to help students who are trying to get into a PhD (or Masters) program. All the same principles also apply for those seeking post-doc supervisors.
Although this article is primarily aimed at university students writing proposals for scholarship applications – many of these principles and techniques are applicable to other types of proposals, as well.
In the first post of this series I talked about the outline for the typical scholarship proposal:
Research Outcomes and Significance Paragraph(s)
We covered the first three topics in posts 1 to 3 of this series. If you missed any of them, then I suggest you go back and read those first. Just click on the relevant item in the list above to jump back to those posts.
The last item in the list is the topic of today’s post and, in some ways, it’s the hardest to write. In addition, as with the conclusions to a paper or report, it’s usually the part that receives the least attention despite its importance. It’s understandable – fatigue usually kicks in near the end of anything you write. That’s actually good news for you; if most people are doing it poorly, doing it well yourself will put you ahead of the competition. Read the rest of this entry »