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Thread: What are the 1st year expectations as a phd student?

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    What are the 1st year expectations as a phd student?

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    Hello everyone,

    I was wondering what is expected out of a 1st year phd student.

    Obviously I've received some program-specific information while talking to current doc students, but I wanted your inputs as well. To my understanding, 1st years will being taking a full load of courses, have TA or RA duties, and then work on a research project/topic.

    It is the latter that I have questions about:

    What is the main deliverable for the research project/topic in the 1st year?

    Some faculty members solely encourage students to independently come up with novel research ideas whereas other faculty members invite the student to work on his/her ongoing research. I honestly feel the latter would be better as a 1st year in order to quickly learn and grab onto the reins before doing own research.

    Which method is best and what sort of conversations should I have with a professor if I want to initially collaborate on an existing project while the professor may encourage the student to come up with an entirely new topic from day 1?

    I'd appreciate your feedback and advice!

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    Re: What are the 1st year expectations as a phd student?

    In my experience a mentor relationship should involve being on a paper that publishes, being lead on a paper that publishes, then publishing a paper on your own.

    In this field you set your own expectations. Put in as much work in your doctoral program as you will be willing to put in for the rest of your life: In this way you will land in whatever level job you should be in.
    Quote Originally Posted by Indus
    Till you feel reasonably enthusiastic about the research area. It is entirely possibel to do a bad PhD at a great program. If you are not motivated by the research area, you would have a hard time finishing a PhD.
    You can find a list of accredited programs:here Do NOT choose a "program" or "format" as these features are quite buggy. 24% don't list GMAT

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    Re: What are the 1st year expectations as a phd student?

    I think different schools and faculties have different expectations.

    According to talks I had with the program coordinator, there will be very little proper research in the beginning and I should focus on courses and exams (qualifying and comprehensive), since that's already a lot to do. TA/RA and research project will take place later.

    When research starts, there will not be only one project, there will be several. So, I will probably do both: work with faculty members research and research in a more independent way.

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    Re: What are the 1st year expectations as a phd student?

    What field? In finance it's pretty common not to do research until the summer after the first year. Usually, this is research assistant type work, unless you happen to have developed an idea already, which is unlikely.

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    Re: What are the 1st year expectations as a phd student?

    In the OB program I will be starting, students are expected to reach out and become involved with faculty research projects from the first quarter. Having an independent research idea comes a bit later. Faculty do not assign students to labs, but rather it is expected that students take the initiative to build relationships and find projects that interest them.

    I would recommend speaking to faculty whose work you find interesting. Ask questions to see if it's a good fit and if there are opportunities for you to join the project. You can talk to the program coordinator and ask what the typical expectations are for your program.

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    Re: What are the 1st year expectations as a phd student?

    This is field and school specific. For some fields (i.e. quantitative marketing and finance) you really can't start research until you have some classes under your belt. For other fields you can jump on projects immediately.

    Generally it is expected from a classwork perspective that you'll be doing a full class load during the first year (or two). The point of this is to learn the tools you'll need to be an effective researcher.

    Some programs require teaching on day 1, some don't require any teaching. Some require you to be an RA where you'll be doing data cleaning and other boring work that will not give you authorship on the paper, some RAships will be working closely with a professor on a project that you helped come up with and you'll likely be invited onto as an author. Some programs expect you to come in running and start discussing research ideas the summer before you enter (with the hope that one of them will turn out and be published by 3rd year), some programs expect you to sit back and work with multiple faculty on their own projects to learn about how research is run and then (around your 2nd year) start coming up with original research ideas.

    Generally what you will find is that the expectations are simultaneously extremely high and extremely low. They are extremely high in that you will be expected to come up with original research and publish and get into the best university possible afterwards. But they are extremely low in that it's really on you to motivate yourself. If you don't do anything it is likely that no profs will say anything until your yearly review (or comps) when they politely tell you that a PhD might not be for you. You define your own success though.

    Talk to your future colleagues in the department already and see what the atmosphere is like there.

    As far as talking to potential faculty collaborators, remember this, they are not as intimidating as they appear. Unless someone is really known for not working with students, try to be as least scared as possible. Email them and say you are interested in discussing a potential project with them. If you go in with at least an half baked idea (and as long as it's not something like, "I'd like to research finance.") they'll be able to help you. Particularly if you've done your research and it fits in with their previous research. Profs in the PhD program are there to mentor you, but also to be your co-authors. It's extremely intimidating to walk into a profs office who's papers you've read for years, but just do it. It will be clear if they aren't interested in talking to you.

    Good luck!
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    Re: What are the 1st year expectations as a phd student?

    That's a good question that I have been thinking about too.
    The program I am starting emphasizes research throughout the entire 5 years and students are only expected to teach one single class after comp exams.
    They told me that there as a "summer paper" due after the first year. This be based on the students' individual research. Other than that I am really hoping someone will involve me in a project that has already been developed by a faculty member. I wouldn't even know how to get started in my first semester.
    We are assigned to one professor as RA and I am hoping something will develop from that. I am sure once you get started you can always ask the other students who are further along in the program about how they approached these things.
    Applied: 14, Interviews: 11, Accepted: 6, Waitlisted: 1, Rejected: 7

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    Re: What are the 1st year expectations as a phd student?

    In few European schools I had applied, including the one I am joining, you are supposed to submit a research proposal as part of the application. While the topic is not set in stone, you are expected to expand on it and submit a full PhD upgrade proposal in the first year. You take core modules, and also work on projects related to your interests.

    From what I understand, while some students continued with their original research topic, many changed directions based on their interactions with academics during the first year.

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    Re: What are the 1st year expectations as a phd student?

    I've spent some more time thinking about this and while my original post stands, it does not include my personal opinion on the matter.

    You should do everything in your power to start researching your own ideas as soon as possible. While there are merits to jumping on a profs project, you really really should be doing your own work. The sooner you start generating ideas, even bad ideas that aren't worth pursuing, the sooner you'll learn what a good idea is. Go in on day one and plan a meeting with a professor to talk about their research and how your ideas could fit into their research path. Come with ideas, maybe write a bunch of ideas down and bring the list to them. Be prepared to get most (or all) of them rejected. But learn from the rejected. Learn why the prof thinks the idea is not worth pursuing and then adjust and be better and try again, until something sticks. Seriously this is something I guarantee you won't regret. Don't wait, act.
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    Re: What are the 1st year expectations as a phd student?

    Quote Originally Posted by XanthusARES View Post
    You should do everything in your power to start researching your own ideas as soon as possible. While there are merits to jumping on a profs project, you really really should be doing your own work. The sooner you start generating ideas, even bad ideas that aren't worth pursuing, the sooner you'll learn what a good idea is. ....
    I completely agree. One of the best pieces of advice I've seen on here. Far too many people wait far too long to really work on their own research, in my opinion. In fact, some people never really learn this in their PhD program at all, and then they graduate and get a job and are overwhelmed as an assistant professor. I can say that I was frustrated at times in my PhD program when I saw colleagues at other schools getting papers into conferences and journals as early PhD students, but these were almost always projects that the doctoral student did not really contribute to the generation of the idea, writing up the literature and hypotheses, etc. The program I was in was very much focused on the doctoral student generating his/her own research. Starting in our first PhD seminar, the semester-long project was to develop an idea and write-up the front end of a paper. Next semester, in our second seminar, same thing. Then in our second and third year when we took our remaining doctoral seminars, in each seminar we had to come up with an idea, write-up the front end, and get a first pass done on the data. Most of these ideas ended up fizzling out and did not go anywhere, but by the time I got around to coming up with a dissertation proposal, it was not some foreign process.

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