When I start a new job, move to a new place, or start a new project, the first thing I do (as may be common among graduate students) is to research. I go on to facebook and I follow every group or page on the subject. I look up relevant blogs, twitter accounts, tumblrs, reddit pages, instagram accounts and more and immerse my social media accounts with this new topic. I want to know when all the new events are happening, what the latest news is, the people I need to know about, everything.
When I started my PhD, I did the same thing. I followed the School of Graduate Studies’ pages, the Society of Graduate and Professional Students, the Queen’s University International Centre (even though I’m not an international student, I find they post very helpful things!), my departmental pages, and everything loosely related to my discipline or just PhD life in general. It’s been about five years since my initial social media binge, and I’ve found that in addition to the Queen’s specific resources, there have been a few resources that have helped provide me with much needed inspiration, perspective and motivation when it was needed. In this post I’ll just highlight a few of my favourites!
The Thesis Whisperer, www.thesiswhisperer.com
This blog has been around for years now and it’s just as active as ever. It is managed by an Associate Professor, Inger Mewburn, from the Australian National University and has a range of posts from useful books to read that will inspire you to write, how to survive the conference marathon, tips for academic job interviews, time management and more. This is perhaps one of the most useful, overarching resources out there that covers almost every aspect of graduate life. Not only that, they organize “Shut up and Write” sessions or provide information on how you can set one of these up yourself. These are groups where you meet up with fellow graduate students and go to a coffee shop or a library together and just write! We do something similar here at the SGS with the Dissertation Boot Camps, but why not make it an everyday part of your life and meet once a week with a group of people who will pressure you to work/stay focused?
When I first heard about these “Shut up and Write” sessions, I wondered to myself – is there a way to do that and not leave my house? I scoured the internet until I found this online community of other PhD students working so hard until they were phinished their degrees. They seemed to be having a lot of phun too (and they do happen to have a lot of inside jokes with the “Ph” sound). Though the group isn’t as active as it used to be, you still regularly find people looking for pomodoro buddies, or just someone to help them be held accountable. It’s a great place to post your progress and anonymously ask for help when needed.
PhD Comics, www.phdcomics.com
I absolutely love these. Sometimes they’re not relevant at all to what I’m studying, other times I just find them too real. But it’s nice knowing other people feel your pains and your successes in a similar way. The artist has developed various characters all going through their PhDs, so you can follow along and watch as they have discussions with their supervisors and with their colleagues, try to work on their drafts, and in general make it through their degrees.
Do you have blogs, twitter pages, instagram accounts, facebook pages that you regularly check out to help you get through grad school life? Let us know in the comments!