During my first year as a Doctoral Researcher in Sussex I`ve heard a lot of suggestions from older colleagues. Now, moving to my second year, I think I am in a position to give some advice to newcomers. This is what this blog is about. Though, instead of putting myself in the authoritative position of telling people what to do, I think it would be more useful to evaluate five common knowledge you will very likely come across in your first year.
- Concentrate in your Extended Research Outline (ERO). Leave other priorities behind.
Surely. This is wise advice indeed. On the last week before the ERO submission, less prudent colleagues were having a very tough time, while I was just improving the work started several months in advance. Still, I feel that I could have enjoyed my first term a little bit more. I was too worried trying to get my ERO done as soon as possible. There is no reason to do that. Really, allow yourself a lot of time to think loosely and freely about your subject. Read useless things. You will never have the time to do that again for the next three or four years.
- Go to every academic event you can. Get involved in the research community.
Again, wise advice. My department hosts ‘research in progress` seminars and I went to every single one of them. Also, I went to many of the workshops offered by the Doctoral School and found most of them quite useful. Nevertheless, you will soon realize that it is simply impossible to go to all events. So, it is really important to learn quickly how to choose between them. In doubt, ask older colleagues. Sometimes, having lunch (or a pint) with colleagues is more important than going to yet another seminar.
- Come to campus regularly.
“If you have an office space, than occupy it” – someone told me on my first day. This is really important. Some people cry for an office space and never use it. If you are always around, you will end up finding a nice space to work – be it an office, a desk in your department or in the Research Hive. Moreover, faculty and other researchers will get used to see you around and suddenly opportunities will start do appear. Some people cannot come to campus for many different reasons. If you have that opportunity, make the most of it.
- Go beyond your department.
This unfortunately require a lot of effort, as most of the activities are announced only within departments, through mailing lists. Nevertheless, if you feel that your research would benefit from you having contact with researchers from related fields, don`t hesitate in looking for other department events. I know a guy who did it so well that he is now teaching in that other department, instead of on his own. We will try to post in this blog open events going on across the university.
- Cycle to campus.
Really, do that. I was too lazy to cycle during my first term, but now I can see how good it is. It makes your day much more productive helps you to save a lot of money.