Thursday, August 9, 2012

Notes for Graduate Students (From a Chinese PI)

Notes for Graduate Students
(Revised by September 12, 2002)

l  Progress
l  Efficiency
l  Quality
l  Quantity
l  Originality and novelty
l  Independence


l  Coordinate with colleagues for the usage of equipments, space and reagents, etc.
l  Active interactions with advisor and colleagues
l  Presentation in lab meetings: treat your every presentation as a publication
l  Be in lab meetings on time and active involvement in the discussion
l  Response to advice appropriately
l  No one is a monster in this lab.

Working as a professional scientist

l  Do you have your working model?
l  Include appropriate controls in EVERY experiment
l  Independently think and design of experiments
l  Knowledge on your field
l  Read at least two original research papers per week
l  If you disagree with your advisor, speak out!
There is absolutely NO experiment that does not have a conclusion
There is absolutely NO project that does not have a conclusion
A tough project does not mean a gradually disappearing or forgettable project
l  Take care about your plants; take actions before they die or flower in tissue culture media
l  Use equipments and reagents in a professional way


l  Record everything you have done, including negative results; photography is essential
l  Data analysis and conclusions
l  Discussion, comments and plans for future experiments
l  Record your data, even if you do not like them
l  Notes of seminars and paper readings

Working as a dedicated scientist
l  As a scientist, you must dedicate everything to this business
l  Working time: 8-hour is unpractical. There is NO way for a scientist or a Ph.D student to work only 8 hours a day!
l  Go to your mother’s house for afternoon naps and never come back!
l  Vacation: 5 weeks per year (Chinese New Year, the May Day and the National Day breaks are included)
l  Start your morning work not later than 8:30 am and afternoon work no later than 1 pm
l  Surf over the Internet for non-scientific purposes should be less than 30 min a day
l  Reading newspapers should be limited less than 30 min a day
l  Novels or other non-scientific journals/magazines are not permitted in the lab and office
l  If you are absent from the lab more than one hour, get permission first.
l  Everyone has personal business, but the lab business always has priority unless in emergency
l  In this business, an “average” student who works seven days a week is definitely more productive than a “genius” who works five days a week
l  If you are able to make any major progresses by working 8 hours a day and 5 days a week, every fortunate in this world must be on your side!

Your Efforts

l  What is your career plan?
l  How much efforts you have made?
l  It is the shared responsibilities of your advisor and yourself to move a project forward
l  You should have great concentrations on your project
l  There is no easy way to get your Ph.D. degree unless hard working
l  You should know how to use major database (e.g., NCBI and TARI) but rather than an expert on SINA, SOHU or any other non-scientific websites
l  If you cannot pass the English Test, you are partially disqualified as a Ph.D. candidate in this lab.
l  The US definition for graduate students: those who can survive and colonize on the minimal medium with vender machines as the sole carbon source in the absence of dental insurance!
l  You are working neither for your parents, your parents’ neighbors, nor your friends to solely earn a “glorious” name (Ph.D. degree) per se. You are working for your own career!
l  Working-hard before 30-year-old is the best way to prevent suffers after turning 30
l  We are NOT writers or any other non-research professionals
l  A real scientist needs a logic rather than romantic way to think!


Use your brains: think and work smartly

l  A good graduate student is not a robot
l  A good graduate student always knows what he/she is doing and what he/she has done
l  A good graduate student always scientifically goes beyond what he/she has been “advised”
l  A good graduate student must independently think about the project and read the data as well as catch hints derived from the data

l  You should learn and eventually know how to interpret your data
l  You should learn and eventually know how to write a paper or a progress report in a professional and logic way
l  You should be capable of tackling technical troubles by smartly using references and by discussing with coworkers
l  If you use your brain, you should be able to avoid unnecessary, stupid mistakes or to avoid making the same mistakes more than once. Many of such mistakes cannot be rescued by money (e.g., the loss of mutant seeds)
l  Mistakes resulted from brain- or thinking-less actions are not tolerated
l  Making mistakes with similar natures more than once is not tolerated

Your qualifications for a Ph.D. degree will be judged based on these criteria, which are the keys to differentiate you from a technician.

[FYI: The lab's link]