Haven’t read previous parts yet? Find them here:
This is the last part of my ‘Tools for a Research Project’ series for now. This post is not about tools which are strictly necessary when it comes to research. But research is not a cup of tea of everyone. Even those who take up research after careful consideration of all the factors are demoralized from time to time. Research requires passion, dedication, and most important of all, motivation. One of the biggest motivating factors I have found is the feeling of ‘I am not alone in this’. There are probably millions of researchers worldwide. And at least some of them are feeling exactly what you are feeling at any point in time throughout your research work.
This post is about social networks, blogs and Youtube channels of other researchers worldwide who share their experiences, not just from their labs but from their day to day life as well.
I won’t go into the details of what each of these bloggers writes. All are academics who are carrying out independent research. They share their experiences of supervising students, collaborating with other researchers, winning grants, etc. You may find some really interesting tools which they found useful in managing their work and useful habits they inculcated to boost their productivity. Make sure you visit all the hyperlinked blogs below.
- Amber Jane Davis
- Dr. Tseen Kho
- PhD Talk
- Research Degree Voodoo
- The RED Alert
- The Research Whisperer
- The Thesis Whisperer
- What if? – This site has a series of articles on common physics applied to unlikely, but extraordinary problems. One such example is: Earth’s atmosphere is really thin compared to the radius of the Earth. How big a hole do I need to dig before people suffocate?
If reading isn’t for you or you want to know more about some of the early career academics, you can visit these YT channels:
You can find more channels like this, simply by typing ‘a day in the life of a Ph.D. student’ on youtube. That is the go to title for vlogs made by Ph.D. students.
Yes. Facebook and Twitter are there. But they are not considered professional ways of interacting. Those are good enough for cat videos, memes, and weird group photos. But when it comes to internship or job openings, professional/ academic discussions, FB and Twitter are frowned upon.
These are most widely used networking platforms:
- Researchgate – Closer to FB where academics share their work. They post the projects they are working on, papers which they have published and discussions that they hold with their collaborators and fellow researchers. You can follow the projects and researchers that interest you, ask questions and recommend articles which you find interesting to people in your network. You may also find your future collaborators/ guide/ supervisor there.
- Academica – It is not as open as Researchgate but it is still widely used by many academics.
- LinkedIn – A professional network where job and internship postings are made.
Apart from these if you are looking for masters, doctoral or post-doctoral positions, following FB and twitter feed of the institutions you are interested in can help as well.
If you are easily distracted like me, you can listen to music while you work. No, won’t recommend the top hits of Bollywood. For improving concentration it is advised to listen to music which is not very fast or heavy on beats. Music with lyrics won’t help either because our brains are generally trained to pay attention to words. Despite saying this, sometimes songs in foreign languages help, An opera performance for example.
There are plenty of playlists and compilations of peaceful music on youtube. My favorites are piano, flute, and sounds of nature compilations. But it is really down to finding your poison.
If you do not like what you find on YT or simply opening it makes you give in to the temptation of watching cat videos for hours at the end, you can use services like Coffitivity and Ambicular. Coffitivity gives you ambient noise of a coffee shop which actually helps in concentration. Yes, I was surprised as well when I tried it for the first time. But I personally use Ambicular a lot more frequently. You can mix different sounds such as rustling of leaves, raindrops, wind etc to make the perfect cocktail of ambiance which will easily keep you focused for a couple of hours.
Do you follow any interesting blogs, channels to keep you motivated through your life as a student? Let me know in the comments…