Imagine a circle that contains all of human knowledge:
By the time you finish elementary school, you know a little:
By the time you finish high school, you know a bit more:
With a bachelor's degree, you gain a specialty:
A master's degree deepens that specialty:
Reading research papers takes you to the edge of human knowledge:
Once you're at the boundary, you focus:
You push at the boundary for a few years:
Until one day, the boundary gives way:
And, that dent you've made is called a Ph.D.:
Of course, the world looks different to you now:
So, don't forget the bigger picture:
- Recommended reading for grad students.
- What every CS major should know.
- How to get into grad school.
- Advice for thesis proposals.
- Productivity tips for academics.
- Academic job hunt advice.
- Successful Ph.D. students: Perseverance, tenacity and cogency.
- The CRAPL: An open source license for academics.
- The shape of your problem.
If you like these posts, then I recommend the book A PhD Is Not Enough:
Get it in print; fund students; save lives
By request, a print version of The Illustrated Guide to a Ph.D. is on sale.
Any and all proceeds will fund graduate students
whose work may impact the discovery, diagnosis or treatment of
Any and all proceeds will fund graduate students (and postdocs) doing work in biology that may impact treatment of diseases of cellular metabolism.
It is available at $6.50 thanks to Hewlett-Packard's high-quality on-demand publishing service, MagCloud.
It's sixteen pages, saddle-stitch bound and in full color.
It's a good gift for new students, the recently defended and relatives thereof.
If you zoom in on the boundary of human knowledge in the direction of genetics, there's something just outside humanity's reach:
My wife and I chose to start funding these graduate students after we learned that our son has a rare, fatal genetic disorder.
It may be too late for my son, but it's not too late for other children.
Even one child suffering is one child too many.
The only way to end this kind of suffering is science.
And, the best way to do science is through graduate students.
Update: When I first wrote this post, my son's specific disorder was unknown.
Thanks to a scientific advance made in genetic diagnostics--specifically exome sequencing--we were able to isolate the mutations in my son's genome and determine that he is the very first documented case of a new disease: N-glycanase deficiency.
One small dent in the circle of knowledge; one giant leap for my son.
You can read the full story in a new post: Hunting down my son's killer.
License: Creative Commons
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The Illustrated Guide to a Ph.D.
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- And, don't forget the "Keep pushing," at the bottom!
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Matt Might, a professor in Computer Science at the University of Utah, created The Illustrated Guide to a Ph.D. to explain what a Ph.D. is to new and aspiring graduate students. [Matt has licensed the guide for sharing with special terms under the Creative Commons license.]
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<a href="http://matt.might.net/">Matt Might</a>, a professor in <a href="http://www.cs.utah.edu/">Computer Science</a> at the <a href="http://www.utah.edu/">University of Utah</a>, created <a href="http://matt.might.net/articles/phd-school-in-pictures/">The Illustrated Guide to a Ph.D.</a> to explain what a Ph.D. is to new and aspiring graduate students. [Matt has licensed the guide for sharing with <a href="http://matt.might.net/articles/phd-school-in-pictures/#license"> special terms under the Creative Commons license</a>.]
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