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  • 06 November 2018

Twenty things I wish I’d known when I started my PhD

  • Lucy A. Taylor 0

Lucy A. Taylor earned her zoology PhD from the University of Oxford, UK. She is now a postdoctoral researcher at Save the Elephants in Nairobi, Kenya, and a visiting researcher in the Department of Zoology at Oxford.

You can also search for this author in PubMed   Google Scholar

Starting a PhD can be tough. Looking back, there are many things I wish I’d known at the beginning. Here, I have curated a list of advice from current PhD students and postdoctoral researchers from the Department of Zoology at my institution, the University of Oxford, UK, to aid new graduate students.

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This is an article from the Nature Careers Community, a place for Nature readers to share their professional experiences and advice. Guest posts are encouraged. You can get in touch with the editor at [email protected].

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starting a new phd

Five tips for starting (and continuing) a PhD

On 4th September 2020

In Advice for other students

Lots of the specific stuff you learn as a PhD student, as well as general approaches to your work, begins with informal advice rather than formal training. I’ve received lots of advice from others during my PhD, since the very early stages of my project. This has helped me both build a PhD project that I’m happy with, and actually enjoy my life while I do my PhD (the two, of course, being closely but not entirely linked!). As it’s the start of the academic year I want to share a few of my own tips along those lines, to help get your PhD off to a good start, and keep it on a trajectory you’re happy with:

1. Keep notes on everything you read

My PhD, like many, kicked off with lots of reading of textbooks and academic papers. My reading has ebbed and flowed, but not really stopped, since then. Reading is a big thing during your PhD. It’s useful to keep track of what you’ve been reading because you won’t remember all of it, but you will want to come back to a lot of it.

My system for keeping notes on my reading is highly unsophisticated, but it works: I have (currently) three Word Documents, called Reading_[insert year here] stored on Dropbox so I can access them anywhere. I’ve got a separate one for each year of my PhD because 1) each document is a bit more manageable than one scary enormous one, and 2) I find it surprisingly easy to remember when-ish I was reading different stuff because my reading has gone through some quite distinct phases (e.g. more stuff relevant to study design early on, more stuff about analysis later) so it seemed like a reasonable and simple way to organise my notes.

The  notes I make on what I read vary a lot: at my laziest, I just copy and paste the paper title, first author and abstract into the doc, and I’m done. If I’m feeling enthusiastic, I make more extensive notes on the paper and my thoughts on it, or copy specific sections that are especially interesting or relevant to my work. I make sure that each paper title or reference is formatted as a heading so that I can scan through the document easily, and create a contents page for each document.  Now, if I want to find a specific paper or read publications on a particular theme, I can Ctrl+F to find key words in my Reading documents.

2. Read a couple of theses

I’m going to disagree with tip #2 in Five Tips for Starting Your PhD Out Right and say you don’t need to read them cover to cover – I don’t think this is necessary in the early stages in your project, unless you really want to do so, or if you feel that every chapter is highly relevant to your own PhD. But I do think it’s helpful to flick through and see different thesis structures (trends in how to structure a thesis evolve over time, and also vary by subject area, so look at recent graduates in your field for ideas of what’s likely to be appropriate for you).

Theses might also contain some specific content that you didn’t realise you’ll need to add to your own thesis (such as more detailed methodology than you usually see in a published paper) or useful references if the PhD is closely related to your own work. I think it works well to look through the theses of recent graduates in your research group, your supervisor, or others working on similar stuff to you. But you can also search for theses online, for example by using EThOS .

3. Start a Word document called “Thesis”

You can use other people’s theses (see previous tip) as a guide to add appropriate headings and subheadings to this document which will act as your own thesis structure / outline. Okay, I did this in third year, not first year, but I reckon it would have been helpful to start this earlier. Since I started this document, I’ve made good progress on actually organising my thoughts and even writing a few things down. And if you’ve got this document ready from early on in your project, you can populate it with notes and ideas whenever they occur to you at any point during your PhD.

Recently, I’ve been going through my Reading documents (remember tip #1) page by page and copying across notes from papers that I have read (and often forgotten about) into the appropriate sections of my Thesis document. It’s surprising how quickly my rough structure has been populated with ideas and material for literature review and synthesis, and how this has helped me link different ideas together i.e. stuff I read in first year and forgot about, with stuff I’ve been reading recently, with stuff that’s coming out of my own analysis. Actually, now that it’s getting quite full, I’ve split my Thesis doc up so that I’m just working with one document per empirical chapter. In first year, a simple thesis structure in a single document is a good place to start.

4. Think about how to make the flexibility of your PhD (and your control over it) work best for you

This one’s quite big-picture, and I’m kind of cheating the list-of-five by squeezing several tips into one. But I think that the general principle of this tip is important, and can be interpreted in different ways to suit different people: PhDs are often inherently flexible, in how you set your daily, weekly and monthly schedule, and I think that you should make the most of that.

The nature of your PhD flexibility and your control over it depend on the details of your project, how you’re going to be working with your supervisors and institution. But there are usually opportunities for flexibility, even if you have to be in the lab most days. PhD-life-flexibility can be exploited for your professional or personal development, to maximise your productivity, to create opportunities that are fun or useful now, or allow you to flex creative muscles you haven’t had the opportunity to flex before.

Below I list the kinds of things you can think about to best use the flexibility of your PhD. These are all things that can work alongside the core research / write / defend thesis requirements of your PhD, and while you definitely don’t have to make any firm plans on day one, I think that it’s really valuable to think about ideas like this (and any more you have) early in your project. It’s all about what you want to get out of your time whilst doing your PhD , including but not limited to the PhD itself, and how you want to structure that time:

  • How do you want to set your daily schedule, where do you want to work? What’s going to be most pleasant and productive for you, and fit in with your home life?
  • What things do you want to do outside of your PhD (sports, reading non-PhD-related books, joining local clubs and groups, always protecting weekends off) to actively maintain a healthy work-life balance (which is better for both your wellbeing, and the state of your thesis)?
  • Are there times when you’re going to be working extra hard (like fieldwork)? How do you want to balance that with rest and recuperation afterwards (an extended post-fieldwork holiday…?)?
  • Do you want to take an interruption from your PhD for an internship or job?
  • Do you want to practise writing by starting a blog or try a bit of science journalism ?
  • Do you want to get involved with science outreach?
  • Do you want to build a professional profile and network by making a website or getting on social media?
  • Do you want to teach undergraduates or Masters students?
  • What training courses would you like to do (and where do you find out about them)?
  • Do you want to try turning one or more of your chapters into academic papers?

5. Talk to people, lots, in both general and specific ways

Starting a PhD can be overwhelming, and knowing where to start, or where to go next, can be really tough. Having conversations with other PhD students about what they are working on, how they are finding their PhD, what kind of training they have received, might point you to interesting new research topics, training opportunities, or just give you a bit of a general feel for what it’s going to be like doing a PhD in your new department. These general conversations are important because they can provide you with nuggets of wisdom you didn’t know you needed and, crucially, help you feel connected to and supported by your colleagues and peers.

Asking your supervisor or others specific questions like are there any academics whose work you recommend I look into? / do you recommend any textbooks on [planning a research project], [planning fieldwork], [fundamentals of landscape ecology], [fundamentals of development research] [insert another topic you’re not sure about yet but want to learn about]? / are there any conferences I should look out for? can give you some useful starting points for directing your own learning in the early stages of your project. So, think specifically about what you need at the start of your PhD, and ask for help with it.

…And one bonus tip: read advice from other (ex-) PhD students

There are similar posts to this one with advice on starting your PhD here , and I particularly like the twenty top tips from Lucy Taylor here . There are actual full guides to PhD life like The A-Z of the PhD Trajectory and The Unwritten Rules of Ph.D. Research which can be very helpful to read through at any stage of your PhD (though I guess you maximise your use of them if you read them early!) and to use as reference books as and when you need them. There are lots of people blogging about their past and present PhD experiences, which can offer great advice and comfort at every stage in your PhD. Personally, I love the Thesis Whisperer and like to check in with it semi-regularly. Reading TW feels a bit like my tip #5: it’s about seeking out help and advice, sometimes when you didn’t even know you needed it.

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The PhD Lab

  • PhD Stories

14 Things you need to know when starting a PhD

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  • Posted by by Kristin The PhD
  • 30. September 2019
  • 7 minute read

You will never get it all right. Still, there are some things you should know when starting your PhD. This list will help you getting as much right as you possibly can. Welcome to the circus!

1. Doing a PhD is tough.

In many fields, doing a PhD will take you a long, long time – most likely anywhere between 3 and 7 years. In this time, you will accumulate a good few bathtubs of blood, sweat, and tears. Doing a PhD is a serious commitment. Check-in with yourself is you are ready for a rough adventure.

If you are, there are many great things ahead: Amazing people to meet, your own scientific discoveries, and a title at the end. Still, be prepared to spend a large portion of your time being frustrated, because nothing ever works as planned.

To get through your PhD, you will need to face a lot of bullshit and frustration. The good news: Once you are done, you will have nerves of steel and nothing in this world will be able to stop you any longer.

2. It’s normal to feel stupid.

All PhD candidates hear a voice inside of their heads telling them they are stupid, incompetent, and not worthy of their position. Some feel like they got their position out of sheer luck, and that they are only days away from everyone figuring out. Ironically, as a PhD student, it is normal to feel like you don’t know what you’re doing.

Once this self-doubt starts raising its voice, it might never go silent again. That’s okay. So many academics are struggling with the feeling of not being smart, competent, and productive enough, that we even have a word for this: Impostor Syndrome. Welcome the voice in and choose to ignore it. Let your unwanted houseguest have a cup of coffee while you work at getting better.

3. Nobody expects you to be an expert on your first day.

As a rule of thumb, you are granted at least the first half year of your PhD to catch up. When starting a PhD, read up on with literature about your topic, understand your experimental/analytical methods, and fill in any other gaps you might find while starting out. Read papers, go to a conference, ask your colleagues and supervisors about everything that is unclear to you. If they see that you are making an effort, they will be patient and understanding. However, really DO use that time to get up to speed. After the first half year, you will be expected to know what you are doing.

4. You might be expected to work on weekends.

Some (though not all!) supervisors expect PhD students to work overtime, in some cases even during weekends. The best you can do to figure out if that would apply to you, is to talk to your colleagues before starting . What is their typical workday? Is weekend work required/expected/a personal choice? Make sure you know what to you are getting yourself into.

In most cases, you will not have to work crazy hours and weekends if your supervisors are content with your output. If long hours and/or weekend work is the norm in your lab, set clear boundaries for yourself. How long is it really okay for you to stay on a long day? How often can you really afford to come to work on a weekend? To be a good researcher, you will need time off the job to recharge, get inspired, and to keep connected to your friends and family. Taking time for yourself outside of work is not a sign of laziness – it’s a must to stay sane in this business.

5. You will go from prodigy to disgrace and back countless times.

When you start, you never screwed up an experiment, you never asked a weird question, and your professor will congratulate themselves for the great new hire. You’re the new Golden Student!

Enjoy it while it lasts. At some point – no matter how hard you try to please – your professor will be annoyed with you. Maybe you forgot to cite a paper, came late to a seminar, or were simply the first person they saw after receiving bad news. You are suddenly cut off your professor’s affection.

It’s going to hurt – but also, it’s going to pass. Things will go back to normal almost always on their own – with the next batch of results or the next department mood swing.

6. You are responsible for your own growth.

While your supervisor should be your mentor and guiding light, this may not always be the case, for many possible reasons. Do not expect your supervisor to seek out new opportunities for you. If they do – great! If they don’t, make sure that you always have your own back .

Look for university courses or graduate school workshops that teach skills you want to get better at. For specific problems, don’t be afraid to ask your colleagues. Find conferences that interest you. Convince your collaborators that it is time to write a paper.

Be prepared to be your own mentor for a large part of the way. This can be hard – learn more on how to own your growth in this article .

7. Write EVERYTHING down.

Empty notebook with blank pages, open, with pencil on top

When starting a PhD, also start a personal notebook in which you collect everything project-related, even if you don’t know what it means yet. From organisational to-dos, manuals of the new analytics software, to your personal ideas about the project and anything your professor mentions. This notebook will save your ass over and over again in the future.

8. Make your meetings count.

Meetings will be the backbone of your research. Whether it’s your supervisor stopping by the lab or strategy brainstorming with your professor, meetings will pave the way.

Especially in the beginning of your PhD, talking with your supervisors may be intimidating. You will not understand everything that is being said, and that’s okay. When it comes to meetings, make sure to:

  • Make notes.
  • Ask all of your questions.
  • Find out exactly what is expected of you.
  • Find out who can help you with these tasks.
  • Thank everyone for their time when the meeting is over.
  • Summarize all agreed points in an email to everyone involved.

The last point is crucial, because supervisors tend to have horrible memory. Write a recap email for every important meeting. Get the discussed milestones and strategies written down and shared. This will avoid misunderstandings and save you a lot of future headache.

9. Make the important people your friends.

Yes, your professor and supervisors are important. However, the really important people are the members of the non-scientific staff.

Secretaries, technicians, and librarians make the world go round in every university or institution. Still, their work is rarely appreciated. BE NICE TO THEM! Introduce yourself. Say hello when you see them. Smile. Say please and thank you.

From quick help with any technical problems to a secretary check-in about your professor’s mood – building a good relationship with the staff will make your PhD life much easier.

10. A community will help you through the toughest times.

We are human beings, and as such we have an obsession with feeling horrible about ourselves. For your PhD, the best remedy for this is to be an active part of a community. A good PhD community is a group of PhDs and/or Post-Docs that you feel safe with and that you admire. By talking with them, you will see that everyone has their pitfalls and learn how you can deal with your own. 

Your community may simply be your colleagues at work. Other communities may be local PhD associations, Meetup groups, or research schools. Nothing in sight? Talk to PhD students that are working close-by and join their lunch breaks. Becoming a member of a supportive circle will help you get through the tougher times.

11. Outside friends are gold.

Make an effort to find and maintain friends outside of work. In frustrating times, these people will be your little islands of happiness – because they will be able to get your mind off your anxiety-inducing PhD project for a little while.

If you are new in town, join a sports class, a book club, or a brunch Meetup. Do whatever you enjoy that will get you to hang out with people outside of your work bubble.

12. There is mental help if you need it.

There will come a time in your PhD when things won’t go well. If this affects you psychologically, find support before you are too far down the hole to reach out.

Sit down today, as you have a clear head and are optimistic, and make a list of where you can get help if needed. Think of it as an emergency list. Who could you turn to if you are treated disrespectfully? If you are discriminated against? Where do you ask for help if you feel depressed, frustrated, or overwhelmed? Who is there if you are on the verge of burn-out?

For any of the above, there is somebody in charge at your institution that will hear you out in a private session. Possible allies could be the student union, PhD representatives, equal opportunities officers, and scientific counsellors. Many universities offer free psychological counselling. Make a list of names and email addresses now. Your future self will thank you.

If you ever find yourself in a situation where you think about reaching out for help, stop thinking and simply go. Don’t wait to reach out until it’s too late.

13. You can always quit.

When bad comes to worse, quitting is an option.

This is not to say that you should leave your PhD at the slightest problem coming up. Keep struggling through your challenges, but always know that you are not trapped in this job. You have the option of leaving if you don’t want to go on. There is no shame in doing that. You are in control. Keep this in mind and it will be easier for you to deal with difficult situations.

14. Starting a PhD: A few practical musts.

Backup your data. Be honest to your supervisor. Express any scientific concerns. Always ask questions. Don’t be shy to ask for help. Have an organisation system. Take any chance to present and discuss your science.

And, most importantly: Allow yourself to make mistakes.

If you find this list helpful, share it with someone that is just starting out with their PhD.

What are things that you wish you would have known when you started your PhD? Which things surprised you most? What did you learn along the way? Let us know in the comments below!

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Things to Do and Think about Before Starting a PhD Program

The prospect of starting a new PhD program can be daunting. The major life changes PhD students experience as they begin a doctoral program only become more daunting when a student does not think through potential challenges ahead of time. There are small steps students can take before starting a doctoral program to ease the transition process. This post describes some of these steps, as well as effective tools students can use to maintain motivation. Although it may not be discussed as much as other methods for self-care, planning ahead is one of the best things you can do for yourself before starting a PhD program. Here are some things Dave suggests you do before starting a PhD program.

This post was written by Isabel Inoa, BA (freelance writer) and Stephanie Bosco-Ruggiero, PhD on behalf of Dr. Dave Maslach for the R3ciprocity project (check out the YouTube Channel or the writing feedback software ). R3ciprocity helps students, faculty, and researchers by providing an authentic look into PhD and academic life and how to be a successful researcher. For over four years the project has been offering advice, community, and encouragement to students and researchers around the world.

Prepare your mindset

Getting into a PhD program is an incredible achievement, but it can also lead to feelings of impostor syndrome. People who pursue a PhD may be regarded as incredibly competent and capable students by others for most or all their lives. However, when beginning to pursue a doctoral degree, it can be uncomfortable and jarring not knowing certain things or being surrounded by peers who seem to know more than you.

You might want to check out this video on how to prepare for a PhD:

Not only that, when trying to obtain a doctoral degree students may have to get used to the greater independence they have as a doctoral student. Instead of being told what to research and how to go about researching a particular topic, students must come up with their own inquiries and original research. A feeling of impostor syndrome can creep in if students experience frequent rejection when submitting research proposals, or manuscripts to academic journals (Check out this blog post on dealing with impostor syndrome in academia) . Thus, it is so important to prepare to ask questions and admit when you don’t understand something to prevent future confusion or feelings of being “stuck.” It is equally important to deconstruct the shame or guilt you may feel about uncertainty or a lack of knowledge in a certain subject; this can help you be a better PhD student.

PhD programs are very time-consuming, but not only because of the intensity of the research you are expected to engage in. It is normal to attend conferences as well as many meetings and other events while in a PhD program, so staying organized when you have a very busy schedule is key to being a successful PhD student. Keeping important dates and meetings on your Google calendar or in a planner is important to staying on track.

You may also find it useful to keep several notebooks to record important information from research articles you read and to record small details about your research process. This will make the steps to writing a dissertation much easier because getting a PhD is a multiyear process. It can be easy to lose track of specifics concerning your methods, limitations, etc.

Check out this helpful blog post on gifts you might want to get as a PhD.

Prepare academically

Consider reviewing articles from peer reviewed journals in the field you will be studying to prepare your mind for the upcoming work. You may also review and read some of the existing literature in your area of interest to get a more in-depth understanding of what you will be studying. Some questions you may be asking yourself by this time might be answered by consulting these academic resources.

Reading existing literature and research in your field may also cultivate even more passion and love for the subject. Because it is so easy to burnout while pursuing a doctoral degree, it is vital to hold a considerable amount of excitement about research topic. The last thing you want to do is to spend so much time dedicating your life to research for which you feel no passion at all. Making sure you are ready to have most of your life revolve around a particular field and/or topic for several years is very valuable.

It is also advisable to speak with graduate students, professors, and/or supervisors who have gone through or are currently going through the process of obtaining a PhD. Not only will they provide you with honest and useful advice, you will also get a glimpse into how to prioritize when pursuing a PhD For example, they may give you useful study tips, advice for finding work once you complete a doctoral program, or tips on budgeting your time and money while in the program.

You may also email the professors you will be working with at your institution to get information on assignments or work you can prepare for before the semester begins in the fall, as well as ways you may be able to help them prepare for the semester. If you are going to be a research or teaching assistant, definitely reach out to the professor you will be working with and introduce yourself.

Focus on relationships

Before you go on vacation, you need to have honest discussions with your loved ones about what the PhD process will look like and how it will affect the amount of time you will be able to spend together. This could mean talking with a spouse or significant other, a friend, a child, etc., and reassuring them that even though doing a PhD program is incredibly time-consuming, it doesn’t mean you care about them any less. It will help to develop a system or schedule where you set aside a specific day and/or time to spend with your loved one(s).

As most PhD programs last anywhere from four to six years, you may need to have many more conversations like this throughout the process. It won’t be easy but continuing to work hard on your interpersonal relationships during this stressful time period will help you complete your program, and you will feel more committed to those relationships when you are done. While completing a PhD program, if you create an open, honest space for your loved ones to voice their concerns, it will be less stressful for them to endure changes in your schedule and workload.

Some people entering doctoral programs may even want to think about whether it’s best to start a family before or during the program. If you are attending school full-time or part-time, and do not have to work, it may actually be the best time to have a baby. Much of your doctoral work can be completed at home, at a computer, allowing you the flexibility to care for a young child. In the below vlog, Dave offers advice on building a family while earning a PhD.  

When preparing to enter a PhD program, and while you’re in the program, you will want to surround yourself with positive relationships as well. You will not have time for negativity or naysayers as a doctoral student, including people who constantly question your decision to pursue a PhD. You will find yourself cutting some people out of your life; during your doctoral studies because you will realize who you really want to spend your limited free time with during these hectic years. Check out this blog post about how e ncouragement in academia matters. This includes surrounding yourself with colleagues who bring out the best in you, as well.

Plan your finances

PhD programs are expensive. Therefore, it is critical to foster good spending and saving habits for oneself when pursuing a doctoral degree. You may start by saving money and planning a simple budget with your new wages. It is also advisable to read a good personal finance book before you begin. It is vital to save money, because when you complete your PhD program, you may find it difficult to secure a job and steady income afterward. Thus, you can be proactive in planning your finances and assessing your financial resources, so that it doesn’t become a major source of stress down the road. Here Dave talks about the hopes you may have for a better financial future after completing a PhD program.

Click here to learn more about life after a PhD

To make your degree more affordable, you can apply to scholarships, grants, and/or fellowships in your fields. By applying to scholarships, students can open opportunities for themselves to receive funding for various things like tuition, supplies, and other fees. With grants, students can apply to seek out academic-based funds for their specific research. Lastly, fellowships are short-term funding opportunities that provide students with tuition credits, and/or stipends. They are quite competitive and are either university-based, or are funded externally, by government organizations, foundations, etc. Click here to read more about financial aid opportunities for PhD students.

Tips to prevent burnout

Because PhD programs are so time-consuming, and at times physically and emotionally taxing, it is important to take some time off before you begin. A vacation does not have to be far away from home or super expensive; the important thing is to immerse yourself in a new, relaxing environment before the intense workload begins.

Here are some things you can do to prevent burnout once the program begins.

As a PhD student you are expected to produce a lot of work and research with efficiency and accuracy. Because the nature of these programs is so challenging, it is easy to get overwhelmed quickly and burn out. To effectively cope with this stress, students should find an enjoyable outlet tailored to their needs and interests. Some resources one may seek out are getting involved in a local religious organization or exercise group. If you prefer to calm your stress alone, mindfulness activities such as yoga or meditation can also serve as effective strategies for preventing burnout.

In this video Dave talks about how to cope with anxiety and stress during your PhD program.  

Another method to prevent burnout while pursuing a doctoral degree is to find other people who are going through the same process and to form a connection based on accountability. This can look like many things, among which is checking in with one another virtually or spending time together in-person to have accountability work sessions for a few hours per week. Students should look into and find a particular study technique, such as the Pomodoro method, to effectively focus on given tasks. (Read this post on boredom during your PhD. It can also be useful to break up a very large goal, like writing a dissertation for example, into smaller tasks to avoid feeling overwhelmed.

It is also incredibly important to practice self-care and to prioritize one’s mental health while preparing to enter a program and as a student. Keeping a journal can be a useful tool for expressing your feelings and decompressing. In general, it is also useful to organize a daily routine to follow to ensure you have sufficient sleep and enough time to care for your emotional, physical, and mental wellbeing. You may also consider starting or continuing therapy sessions to cope with the immense stress of pursuing a doctoral degree and life in general.

Besides establishing effective ways to practice self-care, it is crucial to recognize when you should increase or decrease the amount of work you’re doing depending on your needs. Overworking yourself to the point of burnout will most likely affect the quality of your work and may cause greater inefficiency in the future. If experiencing a global pandemic taught people one thing, it was that time is precious, and a healthy mental state is critical to doing enjoyable and fulfilling work.

Potential job opportunities

Although it is essential to stay focused on the work at hand while pursuing a PhD, it is also exciting to build prospects that may yield positive outcomes. It is advisable to maintain a relationship with your current employer to see if there are opportunities for collaboration during your PhD. You might be able to consult with them or gather data from their organization or in collaboration with them that pertains to the research you’re doing in your program. You may even be able to go back to them in a higher position when you’re done!

In an expanding job market, it could be useful to learn another language to expand your job prospects after graduating from the program. Not only will this augment the amount of networking you’re able to do, but it will also broaden the locations where you can work upon completing your PhD program. Learning a second language can be accomplished more easily if you spend a semester or summer studying and traveling abroad. You might even consider relocating overseas, temporarily, to complete a doctoral degree. Check out this blog on Countries Around the World Where Higher Education is Free .

The bottom line

Consider how life will change when you begin a PhD program. You might have to learn to balance work, studying, and or family in a better or different way. You will also probably have less spending money for vacations and other luxuries. Don’t be in denial about these things. Think about them and plan carefully, and you will do yourself and your loved ones a big favor!


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The Savvy Scientist

Experiences of a London PhD student and beyond

My Advice and Tips for New PhD Students

Cartoon of a mountain with a PhD flag at the top

I started my own PhD exactly six years ago this week and looking back there are LOADS of things I wish I’d known when I started! Previously I’ve written a whole post about my PhD regrets . In this post I want to focus on actionable advice and tips which I hope will help out any new first year PhD students.

Even if you’re already midway through your PhD I hope that you find some of the advice useful. Do you have a piece of PhD advice yourself? Feel free to share it with us in the comments section below.

1. Set Up Regular Meetings with Your Supervisor

One of the main things which really helped during my PhD was having regular one on one meetings. Not only do you get an opportunity to check things with your supervisor, they’re also a useful way to stay focussed and disciplined.

Rather than set up ad-hoc one on one meetings when you need them, I’d really push for a regular slot. I had a recurring weekly meeting, mostly just with my primary supervisor but sometimes my secondary supervisor came along too. Some people may find this is too frequent but in any case regular meetings are crucial.

Supervisors will be familiar with many challenges you’re likely to face. They can offer invaluable advice  to not only solve the problem quickly but also offer perspective to put your mind at ease. It is almost impossible that you won’t have anything at all to discuss. In fact you are likely to end up receiving lots of other advice which you may not have been actively seeking near the start of your PhD, such as career guidance.

Some supervisors by default only have group meetings with their PhD students. Whilst they can be great for getting to know what everyone in the group does and for getting feedback, these really aren’t the place to raise a lot of issues to do with your PhD. For starters it isn’t an effective use of other students’ time to sit through you doing a deep dive into technical details. In addition, some topics are far better suited to a private meeting: mental health, a review of your progress etc.

For any prospective PhD students reading this, it’s a good idea to gauge how much support you can expect to receive from a supervisor ahead of time. If you’ve already recently started your project, now can be a great time to set yourself up with regular meetings.

2. Don’t Work Too Hard

When you’re new in the research group it is natural to not want to come across as a slacker to your colleagues and supervisor. However please don’t become that person who feels the need to hang around in the office just to be seen to be committed to the project.

A perk of a PhD is that they’re flexible: you should be able to control your own time and work when you want and take breaks when you want. Some people see this flexibility as merely theoretical and instead end up working really long hours. Please don’t!

Instead I suggest treating the PhD like a job (in a good way!). For me personally I found that working roughly 9-5 Monday to Friday was more than enough time to complete a PhD at a top tier university in less time than average. For more details, including my own calendar just over one year into the PhD, check out the separate post:

How much work is a PhD?

3. Work Smart and Learn to Take Breaks

Working in unison with the previous point about the number of hours you put in per week, a top tip for new PhD students is to learn to work smart and take breaks where necessary.

Repeat after me: don’t waste time being unproductive.

An effective PhD student shouldn’t need to chuck their entire life at the PhD. Instead, learn how you work best and use this knowledge to find a work pattern which boosts your productivity. Along with figuring out whether you prefer to start work earlier or later in the day, I personally found it useful to figure out how long I could sit at my desk before my productivity starting dropping. On the topic of working hours and productivity: no, PhDs don’t need caffeine .

Taking frequent breaks are great, not just for your productivity but also your sanity. By breaks I mean everything from a five minute walk through to a proper holiday away from work.

If you realise you’ve started procrastinating, take a break: reading a few pages of a fiction book or taking a short walk can do wonders for PhD motivation and your mental health. Breaks are particularly important for anyone starting to feel the potential effects of burnout. In fact it may be worth reading my whole post about PhD burnout .

PhD Burnout: Managing Energy, Stress, Anxiety & Your Mental Health

Beyond daily walks, take days off when you feel like you need them. While you no longer enjoy months off in a row like undergraduates, do be sure to take holidays too: yes PhDs should definitely take holiday. Here is how much annual leave I used up for holidays throughout my whole PhD .

4. Start Thinking About Publishing

Clearly you’re not going to be in a position to publish original research for quite some time (as first author at least), but your first year is often filled with a lot of reading. In addition to using this reading to help with your project direction, you could turn this into a writing exercise which can be useful for three key reasons:

  • Boost your understanding of the topic. Writing things down in your own words will strengthen your comprehension.
  • It can form the basis for the literature review in your thesis. Always useful! Also handy for any early stage milestones that your university has. Mine had a checkpoint at nine months where it can be pretty handy to demonstrate that you have some idea about your research field!
  • A relatively easy and early publication: a review article. It’ll really help give you confidence in the publishing process.

One of the best research groups I collaborated with during my PhD had an initiative where all first year PhD students should try to publish a review article. I think this is a great idea and wish I’d considered it myself so consider publishing a review article a top tip for new PhD students!

Before I tried submitting my own first original research article , which wasn’t until over two years into the PhD, I found the whole publishing process quite overwhelming and intimidating. Had I dipped my toes in early with a review article I’d have realised it wasn’t as complicated as I suspected (as with most unknowns) and instead probably tried to submit my own research much sooner. I’ve since written an entire series of guides about publishing your own paper, check it out here:

Writing an academic journal paper

5. Get Some Good Habits Started

There’s no better time to get some good habits established than when you’re just getting started with your PhD.

Have a think about what kind of habits you’d like to have by the end of your first year as a PhD student and start putting plans in place to work towards them.

Good habits may include:

  • Using a calendar so as to not be late to meetings or lab bookings
  • Reflecting on times that you procrastinate and instead pushing yourself to take proper breaks
  • Healthy and low-cost eating habits . Nothing is more important than your health, and what you eat is a key part of keeping yourself healthy. At least in the UK it can get really expensive really quickly if you buy prepared food (cafes, restaurants, takeaways) for all of your meals. Instead, I strongly suggest starting to cook for yourself. It is much cheaper and usually more healthy. I wrote a series of posts about cooking during a PhD, check them all out here:
Save money as a student: cook delicious & nutritious meals on a budget!
  • Getting a good amount of sleep. I won’t prescribe how much sleep to get or when your bed time should be (I’m not your parent!) but just know that getting into a regular sleeping pattern to stay fully rested will do wonders during your PhD. I already mentioned how caffeine consumption is not a prerequisite for those of working in research and sleeping enough so that you don’t feel tired is a good starting point.
  • Doing regular exercise . Try to make it something that you enjoy so that you stick with it. Want to be uber efficient? Combine it with your commute: I cycled to work during my PhD . Bonus points for any exercise which is sociable.

6. Get Involved

As interesting as your research may be, your PhD shouldn’t all be about working on your own in the lab. Take the opportunities presented to you. Such as:

  • Collaborations. Working with other people can be much more fun than working on your own and could lead to some interesting developments for your own project.
  • Presenting at meetings and conferences. It is a great experience. Scared of presenting? Even more reason to get started.
  • Side projects. Got another idea you want to try? Give it a go!
  • Make connections. I don’t want to bore you with networking spiel, instead I’ll just say that making connections (or hopefully friends!) with lots of people around your department, university or elsewhere can really enrich your PhD experience.
  • Learn new skills. Not just “boring” lab stuff like analytical techniques, think about anything else in life you’ve always wanted to try. For instance you can join student sports clubs and societies like any other students at university. I tried scuba diving and gliding during my PhD and I’m so pleased that I got involved. Read my whole post here about opportunities during your PhD:
How to make the most of opportunities

7. Enjoy It!

There is no doubting that a PhD can be tough at times but do try to enjoy it and remind yourself how lucky you are!

As a PhD student you’re in an enormously privileged position. You’re getting paid to be a student, which in itself is pretty great but on top of that you get to become an expert in a topic you find interesting. It is pretty amazing really. My final tip for new PhD students is to savour the PhD experience. The years will fly by before you know it, so make sure to take a breath once in a while to appreciate where you’ve got to and where you’re going.

A Quick Summary of Tips for New PhD Students

  • Set up regular meetings with your supervisor(s)
  • Don’t work too hard
  • Work smart and take breaks
  • Start thinking about publishing
  • Get some good habits going
  • Get involved
  • Most importantly: enjoy it!

Good luck to all you PhD students, new and old. Hopefully these tips for new PhD students help give you some ideas to make your PhD a more pleasant experience. Do you have any other ideas for tips to help out PhD students? Let me know.

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Tress Academic

Starting a Phd feels like a game.

#24: New to the PhD? – 5 tips for a great start!

September 17, 2019 by Tress Academic

New to the PhD? Looking forward to an exciting time in your life? Bet you are! But maybe you’re also feeling a bit anxious for how to get this major undertaking started off right? Do you wonder what things you should be aware of? We’ve got it for you right here: Our 5 essential tips for new PhDs!

Have you started your PhD recently – or are just about to getting started and looking for a way to get off on the right foot? You’ll share this feeling with many other PhDs who start with the beginning of a new academic year. We recently came across the following post in a Facebook group that says what you’re all thinking:

“Hi everyone! I am working on my doctorate in Educational Leadership at Georgia State University, and I just began last week. What tips do you have for someone just starting their journey?”

As academic career consultants, who’ve been advising PhD students for more than a decade, this is the one question that makes us bubble over with suggestions. We could literally give you tons of tips and a quote like this makes us want to pass on all the wisdom we’ve ever gathered about PhD students to you. 

With that said, you would likely be overwhelmed and not get much out of an outpouring of advice. So instead, we thought we’d distill a few solid  tips that will be really useful right from the start and also essential to your success in the long run.

At the beginning of a PhD education, you have a lot of choices and many decisions to make. Your ‘room-to-manoeuver’ is quite large. But later on, this narrows and you become more fixed in every aspect of your project. So it is essential that you put everything surrounding your PhD on the right track now – to get off to a good start and reap the benefits in the long run!

1. Be wary – time flies 

If you are right at the beginning, and you’re in a structured graduate programme, you’ve likely got 3-4 years (or more depending on your funding and country) of PhD time ahead of you. 

Quite understandably, this may seem like an eternity to you. It may seem like you have years of endless freedom ahead of you to work on a topic that you find captivating and thrilling. Right now, your calendar may be nearly empty and your task-list short. The pressure is lowest right at the beginning, so you don’t perceive any urgency to quickly crack-down on your project ideas. But be aware that one PhD student after another gets caught in the trap of losing too much time in the early months, time they can’t make up for later on. This is the no. 1 regret of PhD students nearing the end: they did not take the time seriously enough at the beginning.

  • Be aware of the fact that your PhD clock starts ticking from the very first day. What may help you is to have a calendar in your office or phone  with a countdown to your hand-in date (or end of contract if that is more appropriate in your case). This way you’re reminded every single day that time is your scarcest resource.
  • Do not spend the first weeks hanging around without any direction. Instead make up your mind very quickly for what the focus of your PhD will be. Zoom in to that, develop a project goal and start working on it. 
  • If you are not clear on your topic or your project goals – then to develop this is the most important work for you to do right now. 
  • For further advice, read our SMART ACADADEMICS blog post no. 2: So you want to finish your PhD on time? and download our free expert guide “5 Reasons Why PhD Students Delay and How to Avoid” .

2. Gear up your work-ethics

Some of you have just completed a Bachelor’s or Master’s Degree and likely finished it with stellar marks – otherwise you wouldn’t be working on your PhD now. Others may not be coming straight from university, but have had a few years of professional work experience under their belts. All of you have beaten a tough competition to earn a grant, get a scholarship and make it through the job interviews.

Careful: don’t fall into the trap of thinking ‘Hey, I made it, I can relax now’ or  think that the skill-set or mindset that brought you here will make you successful in the coming years! 

This is a new game and the rules are different. The level of ambition and complexity of a PhD project is not comparable to a Masters programme or anything you’ve experienced in the corporate world. A PhD is not meant to be an easy journey, and not everyone finishes in the end. How successful you are in your PhD depends as much on your attitude and work-ethics as on everything else.


  • Don’t think this will be easy! Approach your PhD with the right attitude: respectfully and seriously . A PhD is an unwieldy beast and you’ve got to master it in the end. You can do it, and you should be confident that you’ll be successful in the end. But you should also acknowledge that it will take all your energy, strengths and effort to do so. 
  • Step-up your work ethics, not just one, but 2-3 gears: Gone are the days of excessive partying, late-night outs and long lie-ins (keep that for the weekend). Instead, from your very first day onwards, try to be as focused and efficient as possible. Work hard and concentrate on the most important tasks every single day that will bring you ahead quickly. 
  • Make important decisions early on and move forward with your project rather than postponing out of fear of making the wrong decisions.
  • Establish a good working routine: Get up early and work on your most important tasks during the morning while your energy level is still high and you’ll find it easier to focus. 
  • For more tips on strengthening your work ethic and efficiency read our SMART ACADEMICS blog post no. 4: “How to make time for research”   and download our free expert guide: “How to boost your productivity as a researcher” .

starting a new phd

3. Read, read, read

You’ve got a steep learning curve ahead of you. In just a few weeks (ideally) you have to make a quantum leap to familiarise yourself with the most significant scholarly discourses and current trends in your field.

There’s no way around it. If you don’t know what’s going on in your field, you: 

  • won’t know what others have already done (probably resulting in a duplicate of a project)
  • won’t know what the most significant and crucial questions are right now – so you can’t judge the relevance and importance of your own project ideas
  • won’t know what approaches and methods are standard in your field, so you won’t have a blueprint to approach your own ideas.

This is like becoming fluent in a foreign language: If you’ve never been through the foundations of its grammar, you’ll never be able to speak it without mistakes. 

Towards the end of your PhD, as you become an expert, you’ll need a solid foundation (and keep it updated) so you can challenge existing beliefs and customs, and you can develop a new way of thinking. That is the point where science really get’s interesting and you’ll be able to make a significant contribution to your field. 

The literature you could potentially read today is virtually unlimited, but your time is . If you try to get started all on your own you’ll likely get confused, lost or overwhelmed. 

Read in library

  • Here’s a shortcut that works wonders: Ask your supervisors, plus a few colleagues and post-docs around you for the five to ten most relevant published papers in your field. Mention that you want to get an overview and that you want to use their suggestions to get a head-start. 
  • Start with reading those papers or books that everyone has on their list and then make your way through the rest. 
  • It’ll be really hard at the beginning, and you’ll find it difficult to understand at times but don’t worry, this is normal, just keep going, because it will get easier the more you read! Don’t hesitate to get back to those who suggested a paper to you and ask them to explain a particular aspect or section that does not make sense to you. You’re right at the start of your PhD, so you’ve got a right to ask.
  • Get used to making notes or short excerpts right after you finished a paper – jot down the overall  thoughts and results that are presented. This will later help you develop your writing skills. Over time you’ll gradually move on to spend more time writing than reading. For more great tips on writing see our SMART ACADEMICS blog post no. 5: How to get started with writing papers? and download our free expert guide “5 Strategies to Avoid Initial Paper Rejection”  
  • Read every single day and make it a primary activity. Decide on a time-span (e.g. 1-2 hours at a time) and one clear task (e.g. to read one particular chapter in a book or one paper). Stop afterwards and turn to something else. Identify places and times during your workday when you read best and make it a habit: Read in the morning when you commute to your institute, or read before starting your lab work, read in the canteen before lunch, or hide in the library in the afternoon, where you’re completely undisturbed. Find out what works best for you and stick with that!

4. Shed your “I’ll-go-it-alone-attitude”

You’ve taken on a difficult project and not every PhD makes it to the finish line. One of the biggest mistakes you can make is to think that you can or have to do this on your own. PhDs often seem to think that those around them expect them to know everything. That is wrong.

PhD students who adapt an ‘I’ll-go-it-alone’-attitude, often isolate themselves. That has consequences, both social and intellectual:

  • They concoct their projects in their own chamber, without much exchange with peers which may lead them to develop far-fetched ideas that are not in line with mainstream trends in their discipline, marginalising themselves. They may have flaws built into their research methods that go uncovered for a long time and are difficult to rectify later on. 
  • They do not search for or receive regular feedback. So when they finally have to present their ideas or work, they often get much harsher criticism. Since they’re not used to being critiqued,  and because the problems might be serious at this point, it will hurt even more.  

PhD students start-up event

  • Resist any temptation to isolate yourself, but try instead to develop a broad network for support. Expose yourself to scholarly debate and scrutiny right from the start of your PhD. Simply put yourself out there at the beginning – you’ve got nothing to lose. 
  • It’s too early, I can’t discuss my ideas
  • I can’t show my work yet
  • I’m not ready
  • I’m not smart enough, or I don’t know enough to participate
  • The feedback you’ll receive on each occasion will help you to grow. Every little remark from colleagues will help you to reflect on your work and improve it. The quality of your PhD will tremendously benefit from this. It’ll also prevent you from making bigger mistakes or going off on a direction that is not worthwhile. 
  • supervisors
  • graduate school coordinators
  • PhD students, who started together with you
  • more advanced PhD students & postdocs
  • senior colleagues in your work-group or institute
  • international scholars or teachers that you get to know over time as you attend scientific events. 

5. Grow thick skin

Academia is not an environment for the faint-hearted, but an extremely competitive surrounding, where everyone has to fight for their space, jobs, funding or a better place in rankings. After months of hard work, your papers can still be rejected, your proposal goes unfunded, and your best ideas dismantled by your colleagues. You’ll discover that you’ve made a huge mistake in your data-collection that renders weeks of work useless and you’ve no idea how to make up for that! It is also  normal that even the nicest team or cosiest workplace can feel hostile at times. Especially because this is your project and your work, every rejection, setback or failure hits you personally! 

You’ll have your ego bruised more than once, and likely a few setbacks that may feel like more than you can handle. There will be days when you don’t want to show up at the institute anymore, and moments  you’ll be tempted to quit. Those that are overly sensitive often struggle in an academic environment and mental health issues among PhD students is a well-documented and rampant problem. For more information, see “Being a PhD student shouldn’t be bad for your health”  Nature (vol. 569, p. 307) . 

  • You can’t avoid every disaster during a PhD, but developing the ability to pick yourself up again after a major setback is a must. Getting your act together and moving on is part of the journey and those who master it will be the successful ones in the end.
  • Try to keep things in perspective – you may have been criticised, or failed, were wrong or forgot something, but instead of dwelling on that (and increasing your misery) look on the ‘bright side of life’! Ask yourself positive questions, like what have you achieved recently, what went well, what you succeeded with? 
  • Don’t build your entire personality of ‘who you are’ into this PhD. This is your job right now and a big part of your life, but never let it become the entire you! 
  • Find a way to disengage. Literally unplugging and not thinking about your PhD, your team, your institute for a time helps! Make sure you have other activities to look forward to in the evenings and on the weekends. Coming back the next morning or at the start of a new week relaxed and with a fresh mindset will help to avoid mistakes, as well as not take things too  seriously when they occur.   
  • Support from your network (see point 4.) but also friends, family and loved ones works wonders! They’ll keep up your motivation and show you that there is a life beyond the PhD. 


We’re really not trying to scare you, but as they say “truth hurts”. There are a lot of common mistakes we see people making at the beginning of their PhD that can snowball into a lot of stress, wasted time and missed opportunities! We do not want your PhD experience to be anything like this – we thought we’d better give you some tough love now! It is essential to start your PhD off on the right foot and avoid the traps that so often befall young researchers with seemingly endless time on their hands. We hope you can learn from our five tips to keep your work on track, your motivation high and your attitude solid. A PhD can be a beautiful thing. Most importantly, we urge you not to forget to….

…enjoy the ride!

This should actually be the sixth point on our list. When we think back to our PhD years, we remember it as a very happy time in our lives! Most days, we were thrilled to come to the institute, and see what  exciting experience lay in store! It’s a time of discovery, where you make connections socially and intellectually at your own institute, but also at national or international scientific events. The highs of this time by far outweighed the lows we had to endure! It will all be worth it in the end when you’re holding your doctor’s degree in hand!

Do you have any personal tips for new PhDs? What advice would you give to PhD students who just started? Share your ideas with us on Facebook or drop us a note at [email protected]

Related resources:

  • Smart Academics Blog #2: So you want to finish your PhD on time?
  • Smart Academics Blog #4: How to make time for research?  
  • Smart Academics Blog #5: How to get started with writing papers?
  • Smart Academics Blog #46: What makes PhD students succeed?
  • Smart Academics Blog #47: Plan your project – save your PhD!
  • Smart Academics Blog #112: PhD project-planning quick-start
  • Expert guide “5 reasons why PhD students delay & how-to avoid”
  • Expert guide: “How to boost your productivity as a researcher”
  • Expert guide “5 Strategies to Avoid Initial Paper Rejection”
  • TRESS ACADEMIC course: Completing your PhD successfully on time
  • Nature (2019): “Being a PhD student shouldn’t be bad for your health”. Vol. 569, p. 307.  

More information: 

Do you want to complete your PhD successfully? If so, please sign up to receive our free guides.  

(c) 2019 Tress Academic

Photographs by Jon Tyson, Dollar Gill & Franck at

#PhDProject, #PhDStudies, #PhDDegree, #TimeManagement, #Focus

starting a new phd

Community Blog

Keep up-to-date on postgraduate related issues with our quick reads written by students, postdocs, professors and industry leaders.

A Guide to Your First Week as A PhD Student

Zebastian D.

  • By Zebastian D.
  • November 23, 2019

A Guide to Your First Week as a PhD Student

It will typically take you at least three years to complete your PhD, which equates to 156 weeks! In this time you’ll have many ups, some downs and hopefully some fun too! Within the first few months, you’ll be getting your teeth into your project and your days will be filled with paper reading sessions, experiments, meetings with colleagues and collaborators and many more things. But how should you spend your first week as a PhD student? Here’s my guide to help you get started on your journey:

1. Make Your Workspace Your Own

Whilst your work environment will depend on your chosen university and research group, you will need to set up a comfortable workspace for yourself. This might be at a dedicated desk space alongside other students in the group or an office space at home. Either way, make sure you spend some time making your space a place where you want to work; find a comfortable chair that’s ergonomic and will be gentle on your back after hours of writing. A lamp with a soft light for focused work is a great tool as is a calendar for planning your days, weeks and months.

2. Get All the Forms Sorted

Before starting your PhD and in the early stages, you’re likely to receive many pieces of paperwork that need to be processed. These may range from ensuring the university has your correct bank details for making stipend payments, to getting your email address and university logins established. These have to be done so try to prioritise this paperwork in your first week.

3. Make Sure Your Access Cards Work

After registering with the university, you’ll receive your student ID card. Make sure that this card allows you access to all the buildings across the university that you will need to use, including the library and any labs you’ll be working in. Additionally, find out what the department’s rules are for building access out of normal office hours and ensure your card will work at these times. You’ll likely have some downtime during your first week as a PhD student, try to use this time to explore as much of your new working environment as possible.

4. Get to Know the Admin Staff

You’ll get to know your supervisor(s) very well over the course of your PhD but also make friends with the admin staff in your department. They’ll often be able to help you navigate the complex paperwork questions that will come your way and also how best to make use of the resources available to you as a student.

5. Start Reading Papers

You may still be waiting to have your first proper meeting with your supervisor(s), where you’ll discuss and craft the direction of your research project so you need to approach this meeting with some background knowledge fresh in your mind. A simple search on ResearchGate , Google Scholar or PubMed can help you find some relevant papers to read. It’s also a good idea to be familiar with your supervisor’s recent publications.

6. Meet Your Supervisor(s)

During your first week as a PhD student, it would be ideal to set up a meeting with your supervisor(s). Some supervisors prefer planned meetings scheduled in the diary regularly whilst others will leave it to you to reach out to them as and when needed. Early within your PhD you are unlikely to know their preference, which is even more of a reason to meet them during your first week so you can establish a clear means and frequency of communication.

7. Get to Know Others in Your Research Group

A PhD is a large body of independent work, but that doesn’t mean that you should spend three years in isolation! You’ll likely be surrounded by other students at various stages in their PhD journeys and it can be a substantial help to have colleagues to bounce ideas off of, or just to vent to! You’ll all be going through similar experiences – remind each other to enjoy life outside of research too!

Once you are ready to start your work, check out my tips for new PhD students to make sure you continue to use your time effectively and set yourself up for a successful programme.

What is a Research Instrument?

The term research instrument refers to any tool that you may use to collect, measure and analyse research data.

Body Language for PhD Interviews

You’ve impressed the supervisor with your PhD application, now it’s time to ace your interview with these powerful body language tips.

Purpose of Research - What is Research

The purpose of research is to enhance society by advancing knowledge through developing scientific theories, concepts and ideas – find out more on what this involves.

Join thousands of other students and stay up to date with the latest PhD programmes, funding opportunities and advice.

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Browse PhDs Now

starting a new phd

This post gives you the best questions to ask at a PhD interview, to help you work out if your potential supervisor and lab is a good fit for you.

Write an effective figure legend

A well written figure legend will explain exactly what a figure means without having to refer to the main text. Our guide explains how to write one.

starting a new phd

Nina’s in the first year of her PhD in the Department of Psychology at the University of Bath. Her project is focused on furthering our understanding of fatigue within adolescent depression.

starting a new phd

Sabrina’s in the third year of her PhD at The University of Adelaide. Her esearch combines molecular techniques, data analysis, and next generation sequencing to investigate modifications on RNAs in plants.

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10 (more) things you should know before starting a PhD

A while back, we asked some of our students to reflect on what they would like to have known before starting a PhD.

Their animated responses were boiled down into our essential listicle, 10 things you need to know before starting a PhD . Thousands of people have read it and, we hope, have been helped in their career journeys as a result.

But there were so many comments we couldn’t fit in, and plenty of new reflections that have arisen since. So, considering how important a decision it can be, we thought we’d give that article an update for 2023. 

We spoke to our current students to find out some more of the things they think you should consider before embarking on this journey.

1. Choosing an institute or a university

Many PhD students don’t consider the differences between a supervisor who works at a research institute or one who works at a university. There are advantages and disadvantages to both….and it’s worth thinking about this, depending on what you want to do with your PhD.

A supervisor based at an institute will usually have more time available to focus on research, rather than teaching undergraduates, and hopefully they’ll be more available for you. This can be ideal if you’re looking to move into research yourself. 

On the downside, it may be more difficult for you to get any teaching experience. If that’s important to you, be sure to ask questions about the teaching opportunities available. 

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PhD life at the Earlham Institute: what our students say

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A PhD, is it worth it? Just ask our students

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Cover image of The New PhD

The New PhD

Leonard Cassuto and Robert Weisbuch

This book examines the failed graduate school reforms of the past and presents a plan for a practical and sustainable PhD. For too many students, today's PhD is a bridge to nowhere. Imagine an entering cohort of eight doctoral students. By current statistics, four of the eight—50%!—will not complete the degree. Of the other four, two will never secure full-time academic positions. The remaining pair will find full-time teaching jobs, likely at teaching-intensive institutions. And maybe, just maybe, one of them will garner a position at a research university like the one where those eight...

This book examines the failed graduate school reforms of the past and presents a plan for a practical and sustainable PhD. For too many students, today's PhD is a bridge to nowhere. Imagine an entering cohort of eight doctoral students. By current statistics, four of the eight—50%!—will not complete the degree. Of the other four, two will never secure full-time academic positions. The remaining pair will find full-time teaching jobs, likely at teaching-intensive institutions. And maybe, just maybe, one of them will garner a position at a research university like the one where those eight students began graduate school. But all eight members of that original group will be trained according to the needs of that single one of them who might snag a job at a research university. Graduate school has been preparing students for jobs that don't exist—and preparing them to want those jobs above all others.

In The New PhD , Leonard Cassuto and Robert Weisbuch argue that universities need to ready graduate students for the jobs they will get, not just the academic ones. Connecting scholarly training to the vast array of career options open to graduates requires a PhD that looks outside the walls of the university, not one that turns inward—a PhD that doesn't narrow student minds but unlocks and broadens them practically as well as intellectually. Cassuto and Weisbuch document the growing movement for a student-centered, career-diverse graduate education, and they highlight some of the most promising innovations that are taking place on campuses right now. They also review for the first time the myriad national reform efforts, sponsored by major players like Carnegie and Mellon, that took place between 1990 and 2010, look at why these attempts failed, and ask how we can do better this time around.

A more humane and socially dynamic PhD experience, the authors assert, is possible. This new PhD reconceives of graduate education as a public good, not a hermetically sealed cloister—and it won't happen by itself. Throughout the book, Cassuto and Weisbuch offer specific examples of how graduate programs can work to:

• reduce the time it takes students to earn a degree; • expand career opportunities after graduation; • encourage public scholarship; • create coherent curricula and rethink the dissertation; • attract a truly representative student cohort; and • provide the resources—financial, cultural, and emotional—that students need to successfully complete the program.

The New PhD is a toolbox for practical change that will teach readers how to achieve consensus on goals, garner support, and turn talk to action. Speaking to all stakeholders in graduate education—faculty, administrators, and students—it promises that graduates can become change agents throughout our world. By fixing the PhD, we can benefit the entire educational system and the life of our society along with it.

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edited by Rebecca Chopp, Susan Frost, and Daniel H. Weiss

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Jennie C. Stephens

edited by Maggie Debelius, Joshua Kim, and Edward Maloney

Just in time comes a new book that suggests a set of reforms and innovations meant to transform doctoral education into a more student-centered, career-diverse, socially engaged enterprise that enlarges the possibilities for students and expands the benefits for society.

Cassuto and Weisbuch remind us that all reform efforts have histories, including the one to reform US doctoral education. The New PhD recounts that history and presents a challenging set of options for the future. This book is a must-read, one to be argued with, embraced, refined, but not ignored.

Cassuto and Weisbuch's pointed, innovated analysis and tool box are much needed today. A true reform of graduate curricula has been long overdue. Generations to come will demand universities make changes now and will hold us accountable if we do not.

I found this book impossible to stop reading! It is terrific, full of ideas both practical and visionary. Buoyed by years of experience in the academy, Cassuto and Weisbuch design a doctoral education for the twenty-first century starting from the fundamental value of knowledge as a public good. Our students deserve an education that brings out the best of their talents, and this book lays out how to do it.

Cassuto and Weisbuch brilliantly harvest values, insights, and practices from graduate school reform around the country. I can't wait to share this inspiring book with colleagues, graduate students, and fellow project directors across the country. This book is vital and necessary—even more so in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Book Details

Introduction. Why We Need a New PhD and How We Can Create One Chapter 1. Then and Now: Two Recent Eras of Reform Chapter 2. Purpose, Then Path: A Practical Guide to Starting the Conversation Chapter 3

Introduction. Why We Need a New PhD and How We Can Create One Chapter 1. Then and Now: Two Recent Eras of Reform Chapter 2. Purpose, Then Path: A Practical Guide to Starting the Conversation Chapter 3. Career Diversity: A Liberal Arts Approach to the PhD Chapter 4. Admissions and Attrition Chapter 5. Student Support and Time to Degree Chapter 6. Curing the Curriculum and Examining the Exam Chapter 7. Advising Chapter 8. Students as Teachers Chapter 9. Degrees: What Should They Look Like? What Should They Do? Chapter 10. Public Scholarship: What It Is, Where It Came From, and What It Requires Conclusion. From Words to Actions Postscript Acknowledgments Notes Index

Leonard Cassuto

Robert weisbuch.

with Hopkins Press Books

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Happier, more connected neighborhoods start right in the front yard

Pink plastic flamingoes in a front yard garden.

A front lawn can be a canvas for kitsch, elegance and everything in between.


Associate professor of architecture


Assistant professor of urban planning

Republished from The Conversation

Published April 17, 2024

A salve for America’s loneliness epidemic could exist right in front of its homes.

Front yards are a staple of many American neighborhoods. Lush plantings, porches or trinkets can capture the attention of passersby and spark conversation. Other lawns say “stay away,” whether it’s through imposing fences or foreboding signs.

But to what extent do yards serve as a window into the people who tend them – and how they feel about their home, neighborhood and city?

In our study  of nearly 1,000 front yards in Buffalo’s Elmwood Village neighborhood, we found that the livelier and more open the front yard, the more content and connected the resident.

Cultivating a sense of place

Our study of front yards is part of a larger investigation into the ways in which American neighborhoods can cultivate a stronger “sense of place,” which refers to the feeling of attachment and belonging one feels to their home, neighborhood and city.

For decades, psychological, geographical and design research has linked sense of place to happier neighborhood residents and stronger ties among neighbors.

We decided to focus on Buffalo’s Elmwood Village for this particular study. There was the convenience factor, of course — we’re both professors at the University at Buffalo. But in 2007, the Elmwood Village had also been honored by the American Planning Association as one of “ 10 Great Neighborhoods in America .”

We wanted to know what set the Elmwood Village apart.

Located north of downtown Buffalo, this leafy neighborhood is famed for its parkways designed by landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, who also helped plan New York’s Central Park and Boston’s Emerald Necklace.

Elmwood Avenue is the neighborhood’s commercial heart and is surrounded by a dense blend of single-family and multifamily homes.  In earlier research  we had already shown that the Elmwood Village’s residents have a strong sense of place. They especially appreciated the parkways and the area’s large, historic homes that had been built along tree-lined streets.

But we wanted to know whether residents could also reinforce their own sense of place from their homes, particularly the parts that are visible to all passersby.

In the precious few feet in front of the home, residents can put their values and interests on display, whether it’s garden gnomes, Little Free Libraries, elaborate gardens, sports allegiances and political loyalties.

While hanging out or working from their yards, residents can easily chat with neighbors; in fact, one study found that more than three out of four new neighborhood contacts are made from the front yard.

They’re like bridges to the rest of the neighborhood, where each resident can decide how much they want to express themselves to their neighbors and passersby. At the same time, front yards can also be used to cordon off the home, blocking views or discouraging access with fences, hedges and warnings.

Life in Elmwood’s front yards

In the fall of 2022, we assigned a team of 17 undergraduate environmental design students at UB to observe how residents shaped 984 front yards along 25 blocks in the Elmwood Village.

A pilot study demonstrated the elements they could reliably measure: flags, expressive signs, flower pots, landscaping, toys and games, seats, porches, fences and hedges, and welcoming or unwelcoming signs. We ended up not being able to reliably track lawn care or home maintenance, since each researcher had different opinions on the measures. (Unfortunately, in this particular neighborhood, garden gnomes and Little Free Libraries were too rare to include.)

We then compared data from the students’ fieldwork to responses from surveys we had administered asking residents about their attachment to their homes, neighbors and neighborhood; whether they felt their neighborhood had a strong identity; and if they felt they could connect to nature.

The results proved remarkably consistent. Whether they proudly displayed Buffalo Bills flags or simply had a couple of flowerpots on their front porch, residents who expressed themselves with items in front of their house reported feeling a greater sense of place.

Those with obstructions in place, such as fences and hedges, correlated to a lower sense of place. Interestingly, unwelcoming signs such as “No Trespassing” or “Smile, You’re on Camera” did not.

Even objects as simple as toys or plastic playground gear left out on the front yard seemed to foster a sense of place. To us, this says a couple of things: Homeowners trust that their property won’t get stolen, and parents don’t seem all too concerned about letting their kids play outside with neighborhood friends.

This connects to our strongest result: Elements that facilitate socializing — a garden chair, a porch, a bench — strongly boosted residents’ sense of place in every dimension and scale, whether it was their view of their home, their street or their neighborhood.

An Elmwood Village neighborhood on Lexington Avenue.

In 2007, Buffalo’s Elmwood Village was honored by the American Planning Association as one of "10 Great Neighborhoods in America." Photo: Andre Carrotflower / Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0

Building better neighborhoods

Our study finally validates urbanists’ decades-old contention that lively front yards make better neighborhoods.

And it turns out that places with tiny front yards — or even none at all — can also play along.

One study of Rotterdam, Netherlands, found that the port city’s residents, even with little-to-no space in front of their densely built, urban homes, nonetheless embellished their sidewalks with seats, planters and knickknacks to express themselves. These small gestures strengthened community ties and made residents happier.

In our view, the results of our study should serve as a gentle reminder to architects, planners and developers that when they design homes and neighborhoods, they ought to create spaces for sharing values and conversations in front of homes — to prioritize porches over parking, and canvases for self-expression over saving space or money. While American designers and builders are under enormous pressure to produce more housing, they shouldn’t forget that only residents can turn them into homes.

People have an amazing ability to mold their surroundings to suit their needs — just look at what the citizens of Rotterdam were able to do.

Residents of the Elmwood Village already know this, though. They’re busy organizing their next Porchfest, the annual front-yard arts and music festival that burnishes the neighborhood’s reputation as one of America’s best places to live.

What is a Purple Alert? New law adds local emphasis on Florida missing person alerts

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Last week, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed legislation that made Florida's Purple Alert program more local.

Purple Alerts are issued to notify the public when law enforcement is trying to find missing adults with mental or cognitive disabilities that don't stem from Alzheimer's disease or dementia-related disorders, brain injuries, or intellectual or developmental disabilities or related to substance abuse. The missing people need to be found quickly and a fast, widespread request for help speeds up the recovery effort.

When a Purple Alert is broadcast, email and text alerts go out to the public, notices are sent to news media, and messages are added to dynamic message signs on state highways and broadcast on lottery terminals in gas stations, convenience stores and supermarkets across Florida.

But that will no longer be the default response. Here's what changed.

HB 937 puts emphasis on local Purple Alerts

Previously Purple Alerts went out everywhere in the state, with priority given to the area where the person went missing or was expected to be. There will now be two levels of activation, local and state.

Under HB 937 , sponsored by Reps. Joe Casello, D-Boynton Beach, and Tom Keen, D-Orlando, in the state House with the companion bill, SB 640, filed by Sen. Lori Berman in the Senate, local law enforcement must develop their own policies for Purple Alerts for missing people who are on foot or in an unidentified vehicle.

Local law enforcement would then distribute information about the missing person to local media outlets, all on-duty law enforcement personnel and any other law enforcement agency in the county.

If there is an identified license plate or other vehicle information available, the local agency may then request a statewide Purple Alert, which would then trigger the highway sign messages, alerts on lottery terminals across the state, and emails and texts sent out to the members of the public who subscribe to them.

The bill also allows local or state law enforcement to open a case with the FDLE's Missing Endangered Persons Information Clearinghouse.

HB 937 goes into effect July 1, 2024.

What is a Purple Alert in Florida?

Added to the FDLE's emergency alert system in 2022 , Florida's Purple Alert Plan provides coordination among law enforcement agencies and enlists the help of the public to quickly find missing adults suffering from certain mental or cognitive disabilities.

To qualify for a Purple Alert:

  • The missing person must be 18 years of age or older and does not qualify for a Silver Alert.
  • The missing person must have a mental or cognitive disability that is not Alzheimer’s disease or a dementia-related disorder; an intellectual disability or a developmental disability; a brain injury; other physical, mental or emotional disabilities that are not related to substance abuse; or a combination of any of these
  • The missing person's disappearance indicates a credible threat of immediate danger or serious bodily harm to themselves
  • The alert is the only viable means by which the missing person is likely to be returned to safety
  • A detailed description of the missing person suitable for distribution is available

Only law enforcement agencies can request the activation of a Purple Alert. If you would like to report a missing person, contact your local police department or sheriff’s office first, then contact MEPIC at 1-888-FL MISSING (356-4774).

How many active Purple Alerts are there in Florida?

As of April 18, there are nine active Purple Alerts in Florida . The most recent alert was for Hilary Ramos Acosta, 26, who was last seen Monday in the area of the 700th block of East Lisa Lane in Apopka.

How long does someone remain on the Purple Alert list?

The local law enforcement agency determines the status of the alert, but generally, an alert stays active until the missing person is recovered, according to  FDLE .

If a Purple Alert is activated and the person is missing in an identified vehicle, Department of Transportation road signs will be activated and remain active for up to six hours.

What are the different color alerts in Florida?

  • Amber alert:  For abducted children, to broadcast critical information as quickly as possible to the media and general public.
  • Missing Child Alerts:  For missing children who are believed to be in life-threatening danger, but not abducted.
  • Purple Alerts:  For missing adults suffering from a mental or cognitive disability.
  • Silver Alerts:  For missing persons 60 years and older, persons 18-59 who lack the capacity to consent, or persons suffering from an irreversible deterioration of intellectual faculties such as Alzheimer's disease or dementia.
  • Blue Alerts:  Issued when a law enforcement officer is killed, suffers serious bodily injury, or is missing while in the line of duty and the suspect, who is considered to pose an imminent threat to the public, is still at large.

How do you receive a Purple Alert?

You can  sign up  to receive Purple Alerts (or AMBER, Missing Child or Silver Alerts) by subscribing for email or text alerts at the  Missing Endangered Persons Information Clearinghouse .

What should you do to help during a Purple Alert?

When you see an alert, FDLE says to make a note of the description of the person and any additional information such as the person’s whereabouts, and if applicable, the vehicle tag, direction of travel and location such as highway, street, city and county, and immediately call 911 or *FHP (347) to respond.

Cheryl McCloud, USA NETWORK - Florida, contributed to this article.

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Charger Blogger Encourages: 'Re-Discover What Growth Means to You'

In looking back at the start of spring and her celebration of Easter, Beatrice Glaviano ’26, reflects on why it is important for people to build a foundation that fosters growth and self-development.

April 17, 2024

By Beatrice Glaviano ’26

Beatrice Glaviano ’26 and her mom

Greetings, everyone, and welcome into the month of April. I’m not sure if anyone was egregiously pranked on April Fool’s Day, but it’s definitely been a bit wet out. So, in accordance with the slightly gloomy weather, I thought it would be good to break out the good ol’ laptop and do one of my favorite things:

So, grab your hot drinks and the softest blanket you own: it’s time to get real for a second.

I’m not particularly religious. I’m going to start with that. I was raised Roman Catholic, but as I’ve started to take a stand in my own life, I’ve realized that the Church may not be for me. However, that’s not to say that I do not believe in God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, as well as the Holy Family and Saints. I definitely believe in Them, and what They have done. Am I saying that St. Anthony is the reason you found your car keys or that God made sure every light was red on the way to work?

No, because that’s silly.

While the Bible proclaims that God is almighty and omnipotent and stuff, I don’t believe that makes Him responsible for everything. It’s not God’s fault that you didn’t do your homework, or that you were late to work. Who knows? Maybe you aren’t responsible for both of those as well. Circumstances change things, and the many perspectives that are involved in a situation dictate the true reality of it (more perceptions of a similar event equate to increased, unbiased truths.). Now, before everyone starts quoting the Bible saying that God knows everything, let me explain.

God gave us, His people, free will. If you don’t want to be a follower of God, cool. Do your thing, man. Yet, for those who call themselves His followers, remember that He gave up a certain amount of control in our lives so that we are able to make our own decisions. I do recognize that God is said to have known the future of the world as we know it, and the future of all life on Earth, but if that future is already cemented into time, what is the point in changing it?

“To stop someone or something from dying,” you’d say. “To prevent war, famine, or disease. To prevent the horrible, horrible things that happen in this world from happening in the first place.”

The author nods, taking a smooth drink of her coffee. “Yes, but wouldn’t that imply that, just as equally, all the good things that happen would not occur as well?”

To stop “bad” would be to stop “good,” and neither of those things are really real anyways – they’re subjective, and subjectiveness is not equal to fact. What could be good for someone could be horrid for another, and vice versa. Yet, the Earth is not flat. It doesn’t matter if anyone says or believes it’s flat. It’s not flat because that is a fact, not an opinion.

As you can see, philosophy strikes a lovely balance between frustration and bittersweet truths, and the ongoing argument of Good vs. Better and Bad vs. Worse is never ending.

Cannolis were an Easter treat Beatrice Glaviano ’26 enjoyed with her family.

Recently, Easter passed. The holiday itself has in some ways been greatly reduced to chocolate bunnies and enjoying time with loved ones – which there is nothing inherently wrong with – but the original meaning comes down to rebirth.

Rebirth is huge in Christianity, and ties in with the themes of redemption, overcoming obstacles through facing adversity, and learning how to be the “better person,” which can be such a pain sometimes.

Sometimes being the better person is picking yourself off of the bathroom floor after puking, or forgiving something you never thought you’d ever be able to forgive. It’s easier to hurt than to be hurt, and I know that everyone has learned this lesson at least once in their lifetime.

I certainly have, lol, many times. I’ve thrashed, fought, bled, bit the hands that fed me – all in an attempt to further steep in my own pain because that’s all I knew at the time.

But, you pick yourself up off of the bathroom floor, and take a shower. You apologize, and make up for it the best you can. You learn how to forgive, and how that becomes easier the more you do it.

This Easter, my aunt told me that I was glowing.

This Easter, I felt more like myself than I have in months, despite everything that’s happened.

There are many things happening in my life currently, and perhaps when things settle down, I’ll be able to share them with you all, but for now, I’m taking the time to rest.

I hope that with the coming of Spring, all of you are able to come into your own and re-discover what growth means to you. Growth, also, doesn’t mean that you immediately bloom. That just doesn’t happen, especially in nature. Growth allows you to steadily build upon yourself, and to build a foundation of which your blossom can rest upon when it does open up to the world.

Give yourself the time you need, and work hard to build that foundation. You’ll get there.

I hope that everyone is having a lovely day, and that the rain hasn’t soaked your socks too much.

All my love to you all, and plenty of peace, love, and peanut butter, Beatrice

Beatrice Glaviano ’26 is a nutrition sciences major at the University of New Haven.

Recent News

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Healthcare Majors Benefit from Healthcare-Focused Career Fair

The University’s Career Development Center recently hosted a first-of-its-kind career expo focused on the field of healthcare. Students were grateful for the opportunity to explore career and internship opportunities in their field and to connect with industry professionals.

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Fox61, Communication Department Hosted 100+ High School Students

The University’s third annual Media Day gave local high school students an opportunity to interact with professionals in the field while receiving an inside look at what it would be like to power their dreams as Chargers.

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How an Obscure Chinese Real Estate Start-Up Paved the Way to TikTok

Court records, mistakenly made public, tell a story about the birth of ByteDance, its bumpy road to success and the role of the Republican megadonor Jeff Yass’s firm.

People walk past a building labeled ByteDance beside a taller building.

By Mara Hvistendahl and Lauren Hirsch

Mara Hvistendahl is an investigative reporter focusing on Asia, and Lauren Hirsch covers deals and the biggest stories on Wall Street.

In 2009, long before Jeff Yass became a Republican megadonor, his firm, Susquehanna International Group, invested in a Chinese real estate start-up that boasted a sophisticated search algorithm.

The company, 99Fang, promised to help buyers find their perfect homes. Behind the scenes, employees of a Chinese subsidiary of Mr. Yass’s firm were so deeply involved, records show, that they conceived the idea for the company and handpicked its chief executive. They said in one email that he was not the company’s “real founder.”

As a real estate venture, 99Fang ultimately fizzled. But it was significant, according to a lawsuit by former Susquehanna contractors, because of what it spawned. They say that 99Fang’s chief executive — and the search technology — resurfaced at another Susquehanna venture: ByteDance.

ByteDance, the owner of TikTok, is now one of the world’s most highly valued start-ups, worth $225 billion , according to CB Insights, a firm that tracks venture capital. ByteDance is also at the center of a tempest on Capitol Hill, where some lawmakers see the company as a threat to American security. They are considering a bill that could break up the company. The man picked by Susquehanna to run the housing site, Zhang Yiming, became ByteDance’s founder.

Court documents reveal a complex origin story for ByteDance and TikTok. The records include emails, chat messages and memos from inside Susquehanna. They describe a middling business experiment, founder-investor tension and, ultimately, a powerful search engine that just needed a purpose.

The records also show that Mr. Yass’s firm was more deeply involved in TikTok’s genesis than previously known. It has been widely reported in The New York Times and elsewhere that Susquehanna owns roughly 15 percent of ByteDance , but the documents make clear that the firm was no passive investor. It nurtured Mr. Zhang’s career and signed off on the idea for the company.

Susquehanna has tens of billions of dollars at stake as lawmakers debate whether TikTok gives its Chinese owner the power to sow discord and spread disinformation among Americans. As Susquehanna’s founder, Mr. Yass potentially has billions riding on the outcome of the debate.

Mr. Yass, a former professional poker player, is also the single largest donor this election cycle, with more than $46 million in contributions through the end of last year, according to OpenSecrets, a research group that tracks money in politics.

Susquehanna has turned over Mr. Yass’s emails as part of the case, according to court documents. But those emails are not included in the trove that was made public, leaving Mr. Yass’s personal involvement in ByteDance’s formation unknown.

The records surfaced in a Pennsylvania lawsuit. Former Susquehanna contractors accuse the firm of taking cutting-edge search technology to ByteDance without compensating them. Susquehanna denies the accusations, saying that ByteDance did not receive any technology from the real estate site. “These claims are without merit and we will defend ourselves vigorously,” a company spokesman said.

The records were unsealed this month. After The Times downloaded them and began asking questions, lawyers for Susquehanna said that the documents had been inadvertently made public. The judge resealed them on Tuesday.

Lawyers for both parties declined to comment. ByteDance, Mr. Yass and Mr. Zhang either did not answer questions or did not respond to messages seeking comment.

While the two sides dispute the origins of ByteDance’s technology, the documents make clear that the company itself emerged from 99Fang’s real estate efforts. “Our search, image processing, recommendation, etc. are very powerful,” Mr. Zhang wrote in a 2012 email, “but these things applied to real estate are very limited.”

Rather than match buyers with homes, Mr. Zhang laid out plans that year to match users with lighthearted content, developing prototype pages called Funny Pictures and Pretty Babes. He described the new project as a “brother enterprise” that would share technology with the real estate site.

Years later, a director for Susquehanna in China would write to a colleague that the housing site deal had led to “the birth of ByteDance.”

How It All Started

In 2005, Susquehanna created the Chinese subsidiary, SIG China, to invest in start-up companies.

One early investment was Kuxun, a portal that focused on job listings, housing advertisements and travel. Mr. Zhang, then in his early 20s, was the site’s technical director, and SIG China viewed him as a promising talent.

He left the company for a job with Microsoft. But in 2009, as SIG China prepared to spin off Kuxun’s real estate section into its own venture, the investment firm lured Mr. Zhang back and installed him as the chief executive of the new company, 99Fang.

“We have recruited the top engineer of the housing channel back to lead the technical team,” SIG China employees wrote in an internal memo.

But the relationship between Mr. Zhang and SIG China was complicated, records show.

He described himself as 99Fang’s founder but owned few shares, the documents say.

In 2011, Tim Gong, an SIG China managing director, vented about Mr. Zhang amid an apparent dispute over shares. “Kuxun and 99Fang were both NOT founded by him,” Mr. Gong wrote to a colleague. The full context is not clear, but he ends the message by seeming to suggest parting ways with Mr. Zhang: “We shall let him go.”

By 2012, real estate no longer excited Mr. Zhang. After studying the life of Apple founder Steve Jobs, he said in an email to SIG China, he realized that he needed a career change. Social media opportunities were sprouting up as people bought cellphones. He suggested that 99Fang’s search technology needed a different purpose.

The degree to which Susquehanna steered Mr. Zhang’s career over the course of years has never been part of the ByteDance story. In a Chinese-language blog post , Joan Wang, an SIG employee, has written about meeting Mr. Zhang at a coffee shop to discuss what would become ByteDance. He mapped it out on a napkin, she wrote.

Internally, in an investment memo, she wrote that Mr. Zhang sought Susquehanna’s “understanding and permission” to leave 99Fang and create a new company.

‘Pretty Babes’ and a Big Gamble

Pivots in focus are common in venture investing. Less common is a change as dramatic as shifting from real estate to social media. The most successful start-ups — Facebook, WhatsApp, Alibaba — evolved in scope but not drastically in purpose.

By March 2012, court documents show, the nascent project had a new name: Xiangping, which roughly translates to “share comments.”

Mr. Zhang created a prototype app, Pretty Babes, that users seemed to enjoy, the memo read. Fragments of Xiangping’s early existence survive in archived form on the internet.

In the investment memo, Ms. Wang wrote that by selecting content for users, Xiangping could engineer virality and increase “stickiness.” Rather than have users search for what they wanted, in other words, the new company would select it for them.

“Social network technology will be used to track user behavior, predict user interest, and build relevancy and recommendation engine,” the memo reads.

ByteDance’s technology has evolved, but TikTok still delivers videos that users want to see and share. That curation is at the heart of the effort to ban TikTok. Some lawmakers fear having such a powerful algorithm in the hands of a company with Chinese ownership.

In 2012, SIG China valued the start-up at about $9 million and invested a little over $2 million. Its lawyers said in court documents that it had since “contributed hundreds of millions in further investments.”

From there, the company’s story is well known. It rebranded itself as ByteDance and bought the lip sync app, which it used as the foundation for TikTok . By 2018, ByteDance had become one of the world’s most valuable private technology companies.

Susquehanna’s bet on an unproven founder is not rare. What’s unique about ByteDance is that it paid off so well.

“Part of it is they saw something,” said Steven Kaplan, who researches private equity and venture capital at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. “Part of it is they got lucky.”

What’s Next?

The Pennsylvania court case may ultimately go before a jury, but no trial date has been set.

The House passed a bill in March that could force the sale of TikTok , and a Senate vote could come as soon as next week.

In addition to his campaign donations, Mr. Yass has funded a major advocacy drive through the libertarian Club for Growth to prevent the banning of TikTok. That has shown mixed results so far, as many House members backed by the group voted for a ban.

As with many pieces of legislation, former President Donald J. Trump is a wild card in the bill’s passage. As president, he tried to force a sale of TikTok. But he has since reversed his stance. He has also acknowledged meeting briefly with Mr. Yass but said that they never discussed TikTok.

Liu Yi contributed reporting, and Kitty Bennett contributed research.

Mara Hvistendahl is an investigative reporter for The Times focused on Asia. More about Mara Hvistendahl

Lauren Hirsch joined The Times from CNBC in 2020, covering deals and the biggest stories on Wall Street. More about Lauren Hirsch

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Return fraud is a rampant problem  for both shoppers and retailers — and the mishaps often make for viral videos on TikTok.

The Pink Stuff, a home cleaning paste, went from total obscurity to viral sensation — and Walmart staple — thanks to one “cleanfluencer” and her legion of fans .

Have we reached the end of TikTok’s infinite scroll? The app once offered seemingly endless chances to be charmed but in only a few short years, its promise of kismet is evaporating , our critic writes.

The TikTok creator known as “Tunnel Girl” has been documenting her attempt to build an emergency shelter under her home. She is not the only person with an off-the-books tunnel project .

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College basketball transfer portal 2024: Ranking top 70 players as Chucky Hepburn enters portal

Here are the best transfers in the portal so far during college basketball's 2024 offseason.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: FEB 10 Dartmouth at Harvard

Wisconsin guard Chucky Hepburn is headed to the transfer portal after starting 103 games over three seasons with the Badgers, 247Sports reported Thursday . The 6-foot-2 floor general is a defensive menace and two-time All-Big Ten honorable mention honoree with one season of eligibility remaining.

His departure marks the latest blow for Wisconsin, which also lost leading scorer AJ Storr to the portal after the Badgers wrapped up a 22-14 season with a loss to No. 12 seed James Madison in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Storr committed to Kansas on Thursday.

Hepburn was a mainstay on the floor for the Badgers over the past three seasons, logging 31 or more minutes per game since he stepped foot on campus as a four-star prospect in the Class of 2021. His scoring average dipped from 12.2 points per game in 2022-23 to 9.2 this past season as he reduced his shooting diet in deference to Storr. Hepburn averaged 2.1 steals per contest, earning a spot on the Big Ten All-Defensive Team.

With the spring portal window closing on May 1, those wishing to transfer are running short on time to declare their intentions. But so long as players have entered the portal by that date, they face no firm deadline on when they must commit to their new school. Those who are exploring the NBA Draft process have through May 29 to withdraw if they want to return to college next season.

When players hit the portal, the best will be ranked here.

Check out the latest transfer portal updates from 247Sports

1. Johnell Davis

Old school: FAU

Davis played a key role in taking FAU to the 2023 Final Four and built on his breakout season by upping his scoring average to 18.2 points in 2023-24. The 6-4 guard hit 41.4% of his 3-pointers, pulled down 6.3 rebounds and averaged 1.4 steals for the Owls in his fourth season of college basketball. He's only got one season left to play and is also testing the NBA Draft waters.

2. Tucker DeVries

Old school: Drake  | New school: West Virginia

DeVries won Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year twice during three seasons while playing for his father, Darian DeVries. The 6-7 wing averaged 21.6 points, 6.7 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game in 2023-24. He's a career 35.9% 3-point shooter and dynamic offensive threat. DeVries is following his father, who accepted the West Virginia job. 

3. Zeke Mayo

Old school: South Dakota State  |  New school: Kansas

Mayo earned Summit League Player of the Year after averaging 18.8 points, 5.7 rebounds and 3.5 assists for a South Dakota State team that won the conference. He's a career 38.8% 3-point shooter and scored 19 points on just 11 shots against Iowa State's vicious defense in an NCAA Tournament loss. There is a strong recent track record of Summit League Players of the Year transferring up. Max Abmas was the leading scorer for Texas this season after winning the award twice in his career at Oral Roberts. Baylor Scheierman has also been a star at Creighton the past two seasons after winning Summit League POTY at SDSU in 2022.

4. Jeremy Roach

Old school: Duke

Roach is a seasoned floor general with two years of experience under Mike Krzyzewski and two years of experience under Jon Scheyer. The 6-foot-1 guard earned third-team All-ACC honors in 2023-24 while averaging 14 points and 3.3 assists per game on 42.9% 3-point shooting. With 108 starts for a premier program under his belt, the former five-star prospect is one of this cycle's top names.

5. AJ Storr

Old school:  Wisconsin | New school: Kansas

Storr provided a significant jolt of offense for Wisconsin in the 2023-24 season, averaging 16.8 points. The 6-6 wing is a multi-level scorer with the size needed to finish in the paint and around the rim. being surrounded by other dynamic playmakers at Kansas should allow Storr increase his efficiency after he shot 43.4% from the floor for the Badgers.

6. Mark Mitchell

Old school:  Duke

Mitchell started 67 games in his two seasons at Duke after ranking as a five-star prospect in the Class of 2022. The 6-9 forward is a dynamic athlete who played mostly at small forward in 2022-23 before sliding to power forward this past season. He averaged 11.6 points and 6.0 rebounds per game on 54% shooting from the floor this past year. With two seasons of eligibility remaining and NBA-caliber upside, Mitchell will be one of the top prizes of this offseason.

7. Vladislav Goldin

Goldin averaged 15.7 points, 6.9 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game on an insanely efficient 67.3% shooting from the floor for FAU in 2023-24. The 7-1 Russian is a rugged and seasoned veteran who impacts both ends of the floor. He is a particularly strong asset on offense, despite the fact that he's never attempted a 3-pointer.

8. Clifford Omoruyi

Old school: Rutgers

Entering the first round of the NCAA Tournament, Omoruyi's 93 blocks ranked fourth nationally. The 6-11 center is an elite rim protector with consecutive Big Ten All-Defense honors. Omoruyi also averaged double figures in each of the last three seasons and posted 29 double-doubles in his four years with Rutgers. He can't do much away from the rim offensively but is excellent defensively.

9. Tramon Mark

Old school: Arkansas | New school: Texas

Mark averaged 16.2 points on 48% shooting for Arkansas in 2023-24 after spending the first three years of his career at Houston. The 6-5 guard is just a career 32% 3-point shooter, but he's a battle-tested veteran with the ability to go out and get buckets in a variety of ways. He is a big addition for a Texas team losing its top four scorers.

10. Oumar Ballo

Old school:  Arizona | New school: Indiana

Ballo's size (7-foot and 260 pounds) makes him a difficult player for opponents to manage. He averaged 12.9 points and 10.1 rebounds in 2023-24 for Arizona on 65.8% shooting. There isn't much versatility to his game, and Ballo's free-throw shooting dipped to a career-worst 49.5% this past season. But he's a productive bruiser with a proven track record at an elite program who will help Indiana replace the production of Kel'El Ware, who is headed to the NBA Draft.

11. DJ Wagner

Old school: Kentucky

Wagner finished the 2023 recruiting cycle ranked as the nation's No. 6 high school prospect, according to 247Sports. He displayed flashes of his elite potential during an SEC All-Freshman campaign at Kentucky but was inconsistent, shooting just 40.5% from the floor and 29.2% from 3-point range. Though the 6-3 guard didn't turn out as a one-and-done superstar, his talent is clear and his ceiling remains high.

12. Robbie Avila

Old school: Indiana State

Avila became a college basketball cult hero while earning all-MVC honors as a sophomore. The 6-10 center averaged 17.4 points and 6.6 rebounds on 53.6% shooting for an Indiana State team that finished 32-7. Avila is great around the rim but also shot 39.4% from 3-point range on 4.2 attempts per game, which makes him a rarity among bigs in college basketball. 

13. Tony Perkins

Old school:   Iowa  | New school: Missouri

Perkins averaged 14 points, 4.6 assists and 1.6 steals while starting all 34 games for Iowa as a senior. Following 126 career appearances for the Hawkeyes, he should make a significant impact for a Missouri program seeking to bounce back from an 0-18 SEC record. Though just a career 31.7% 3-point shooter, Perkins is a physical guard at 6-4 who can attack the basket. He also rated as Iowa's top defender in the 2023-24 season, per .

14.  Cade Tyson

Old school:  Belmont

Tyson is a career 44.6% 3-point shooter on 287 attempts over two seasons with Belmont. At 6-7 with a demonstrated outside stroke, he could be an impact player for a high-major program. How Tyson will translate defensively to a higher level is likely the biggest question mark here.

15.  Darlinstone Dubar

Old school:   Hofstra  |  New school:  Tennessee

Dubar is a 6-6 wing who averaged 17.8 points and 6.8 rebounds on 39.9% 3-point shooting for a 20-win Hofstra team. He began his career at  Iowa State , starting seven games for the Cyclones in 2020-21. As a fifth-year player with a proven shot and good size, he'll be part of the committee tasked with helping Tennessee replace All-American guard Dalton Knecht. Former  Alabama  guard  Aaron Estrada  is a recent example of a quality high-major player to come through Hofstra.

16. Zvonimir Ivišić

Old school:  Kentucky |  New school:  Arkansas

Ivišić showed tantalizing flashes of potential as a freshman at Kentucky. With a rare combination of size, skill and shooting ability, he will be an integral piece in John Calipari's effort to field a competitive team in his first season at Arkansas. At 7-2, Ivišić can swat shots or step out and hit 3-pointers. With a full offseason to spend in Arkansas' strength and conditioning program, the Croatian big man should develop the strength required to bruise on the block in a rugged conference.

17. Rylan Griffen

Old school:  Alabama Griffen averaged 11.2 points on 39.2% 3-point shooting while starting 33 games as a sophomore for Alabama. The former top-50 prospect has good size as an off-ball guard at 6-5. Though he didn't register as a high-impact defender, Griffen is an appealing transfer because of his demonstrated record of offensive efficiency for a high-level program.

18. Chucky Hepburn

Old school: Wisconsin

Hepburn started 103 games over three seasons at Wisconsin, establishing himself as reliable floor general and defensive pest. The 6-foot-2 guard is a career 36.2% 3-point shooter and earned Big Ten All-Defensive Team honors in the 2023-24 season while averaging 2.1 steals. He rated as the Badgers' most-efficient player and No. 2 defender this past season, per .

19. Meechie Johnson

Old school:   South Carolina  | New school: Ohio State

Johnson wasn't necessarily South Carolina's best all-around player. But the 6-2 guard did lead the Gamecocks in scoring at 14.1 points per game in 2023-24 during his second season in the program. Johnson began his career at Ohio State and will have one season of eligibility remaining as he returns to his home state to finish out his career with the Buckeyes.

20. Kobe Johnson

Old school: USC  | New school: UCLA

Johnson stood out as an elite defender for USC, collecting 2.2 steals per game and rating as one of the top players on that side of the ball in the Pac-12. The 6-5 wing also scored 10.9 points per game in 2023-24. Though just a career 32.9% 3-point shooter, Johnson has some chops as a distributor and will be a plug-and-play veteran as he heads across town to play for UCLA.

21.  Brandon Garrison

Old school:  Oklahoma State

Garrison showed glimpses of why he was a top-50 prospect and McDonald's All-American in the Class of 2023 during his freshman season at Oklahoma State. There are offensive strides to be made, but Garrison blocked 1.5 shots per game in just 22.7 minutes and has three seasons of eligibility remaining to continue realizing his potential.

22. Jonas Aidoo

Old school: Tennessee

Aidoo took significant strides as a junior during the 2023-24 season, averaging 11.4 points, 7.3 rebounds and 1.8 blocks as a full-time starter for the Volunteers. At 6-11, he registered as one of the most impactful defenders in the SEC. However, Aidoo did struggle in the rare instances when he was matched up against the sport's top bruisers such as Hunter Dickinson, Ryan Kalkbrenner and Zach Edey.

23.  Malik Mack

Old school:  Harvard  | New school: Georgetown

Mack's efficiency dipped down the stretch, but it was still a phenomenal freshman season for the 6-1 guard, who averaged 17.2 points and 4.8 assists per game. The Ivy League Rookie of the Year finished with 18 points and six assists at  Boston College  and scored 27 at  Indiana  during the first month of his college career. It was an impressive peek at what he's capable of against high-major opposition.

24. Milos Uzan

Old school: Oklahoma | New school: Houston

Uzan dished out 4.7 assists versus just 2.1 turnovers per game against Big 12 competition in the 2023-24 season. The 6-4 guard started 56 games during his two seasons with the Sooners and will be tasked with helping Houston replace beloved point guard Jamal Shead. He won't be handling that job alone -- few could -- but he'll be a big piece in keeping the Cougars in the Big 12 hunt.

25. Terrence Edwards

Old school:   James Madison  |  New school:  Louisville

Edwards was the leading scorer at 17.2 points per game for a James Madison team that finished 32-4 with a trip to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. The 6-6 guard also dished out 3.4 assists for the Dukes after making significant productivity strides in all four years he was at JMU. He will be a vital piece for coach Pat Kelsey's first team at Louisville.

26. PJ Haggerty

Old school:  Tulsa | New school: Memphis

Haggerty averaged 21.2 points on 54% shooting inside the arc for Tulsa in 2023-24. What separates the 6-3 guard from some of the other volume scorers in the portal is that he has three seasons left to play. Instead of merely serving as a one-year rental, he could potentially develop into a three-year rotational mainstay. And if he develops his 3-point shot, he could be a high-level college star.

27.  Jevon Porter

Old school:   Pepperdine

Porter ranked as a top-100 prospect in the Class of 2022 and earned honorable mention All-WCC honors this season while averaging 16.2 points, 5.9 rebounds and one block per game. The 6-11 younger brother of Denver Nuggets star Michael Porter Jr. is a career 32.5% 3-point shooter and could get high-major interest because of his size, pedigree and flashes of perimeter shooting.

28.  Myles Rice

Old   school:  Washington State |  New school : Indiana

Rice  defeated cancer and helped lead Washington State to its first NCAA Tournament since 2008. With coach Kyle Smith off to Stanford, it was no surprise to see Rice hit the portal. The 6-2 guard averaged 14.8 points, 3.8 assists and 1.6 steals for the Cougars and should have three seasons of eligibility remaining. He needs to improve his 3-point shot (27.5% on 3.7 attempts per game) and bulk up. But there is a lot to like about his trajectory for an Indiana team that desperately needed to upgrade its backcourt.

29. Kylan Boswell

Old school:  Arizona |  New school:  Illinois

Boswell started 35 games for Arizona as a sophomore, averaging 9.6 points and 3.6 assists while shooting 37.9% from 3-point range. The 6-foot-2 guard isn't particularly explosive or rangy, which means he has limitations as a driver and defender. But he's sure-handed and produced a solid track record of perimeter shooting in two years with the Wildcats.

30. Kanaan Carlyle

Old school:   Stanford

Carlyle averaged 11.5 points and 2.7 assists per game in his freshman season at Stanford after ranking as a four-star prospect in the Class of 2023. His best games came against  Arizona  and  Washington State , which were both NCAA Tournament teams. With three seasons of eligibility remaining and a proven body of work at the high-major level, there is some upside here.

31. Danny Wolf

Old school:  Yale

Wolf averaged 14.1 points, 9.7 rebounds and 1.3 blocks for a Yale team that reached the second round of the 2024 NCAA Tournament. He is more fluid, nimble and versatile than a typical seven-footer. Wolf can attack defenders off the dribble, hit 3-pointers or post up. He has two seasons left, and his rare combination of size and tools make him one of this offseason's most interesting transfer prospects.

32. Dillon Mitchell

Old school:  Texas

Mitchell made strides as a sophomore at Texas but still has untapped potential after ranking as a five-star prospect in the Class of 2022. The former McDonald's All-American is an athletic power forward who finishes well at the rim. But Mitchell's 0 for 8 career 3-point mark means you can't pair him with a non-shooting center without clogging up the floor.

33. Alijah Martin

Martin was a three-time all-conference performer at FAU while appearing in 124 games across four seasons under Dusty May. The 6-foot-2 guard is a good defender for his size and a career 36.9% 3-point shooter. He's more of a shooting guard than a point guard and has proven he can make substantive contributions to a winning program.

34. Ryan Conwell

Old school:  Indiana State

Conwell is a 6-4 guard who hit 40.7% of his 3-point attempts on 7.1 tries per game as a sophomore at Indiana State. He finished second on the team in scoring at 16.6 points per game and dished out 2.5 assists. Considering that Conwell also rates as a quality defender, he should garner significant interest as he hits the market with two seasons of eligibility remaining.

35. Chris Youngblood

Old school:  South Florida |  New school:  Alabama

Youngblood was the leading scorer for the AAC champions, averaging 15.3 points on 41.6% 3-point shooting for a 25-8 South Florida team. The 6-4 guard was the league's co-player of the year and should be an excellent fit with an Alabama program that prioritizes efficient 3-point shooting.

36. Seth Trimble

Old school:  North Carolina

Trimble played a vital role off the bench for North Carolina as a sophomore, proving to be a shutdown defender and occasional source of offensive juice. The former top-40 prospect seemingly would have been in line for an expanded role as a junior with the Tar Heels. Depending on where he lands, the 6-foot-3 guard is likely to have all-conference potential.

37.  BJ Freeman

Old school:  Milwaukee

Freeman was a busy man the past two years at Milwaukee, leading a pair of 20-win teams in scoring. In 2023-24, he also led the Panthers in rebounds (6.6), assists (4.1) and steals (1.1). At 6-6, he's both a good solo shot creator and can facilitate for others. His results against high-major opposition were mixed in a limited sample size over the past two years, but Freeman can help a good team.

38. Jalen Blackmon

Old school: Stetson

Blackmon turned heads nationally with his 43-point outburst in the ASUN Tournament title game. The 6-3 guard hit 38.1% of his 3-pointers on 8.3 attempts per game in the 2023-24 season and is a career 90.6% free-throw shooter. The Indiana native has only one season of eligibility remaining but has proven himself worthy of a shot to shine on the sport's big stage.

39. Jacob Crews

Old school:   UT Martin  | New school: Missouri

Crews shot 41.4% from 3-point range on 6.7 attempts per game as a junior for a UT Martin team that won a share of the OVC regular-season title. He also yanked down 8.2 rebounds per game for the Skyhawks. There are questions about his defense, but at 6-7 and with a good shooting stroke, he is big pickup for Missouri. The Tigers are coming off a winless SEC campaign and need help.

40. Dug McDaniel

Old school: Michigan  | New school: Kansas State

McDaniel averaged 16.3 points and 4.7 assists while shooting 36.8% from 3-point range on 5.8 attempts for a bad Michigan team. The 5-11 guard also rated as the Wolverines' top defender, per Although his offensive numbers dipped against Big Ten foes, the former four-star prospect will help a Kansas State team needing to upgrade its guard play.

41. Otega Oweh

Old school:  Oklahoma  

Oweh's production and efficiency dropped dramatically during the grind of Big 12 play after his sophomore season began with tantalizing glimpses of offensive promise. While his game remains a work in progress, the 6-5 wing is already a great defender. With two years left to play, Oweh is worth a swing for a team in need of perimeter defense.

42.  Ja'Kobi Gillespie  

Old school:  Belmont |  New school:  Maryland

Belmont was at its best with Gillespie on the floor; he averaged 17.2 points, 4.2 assists and 2.2 steals for the Bruins. The 6-foot guard is on the smaller side but shot a ridiculous 66% inside the arc and a solid 38.7% beyond it. With two seasons of eligibility remaining, he's a good addition for a Maryland team that needs help in the backcourt.

43. Aidan Mahaney

Old school: Saint Mary's

Mahaney earned first-team All-WCC honors in both his seasons at Saint Mary's and was the conference's Freshman of the Year in the 2022-23 season. Though his efficiency dipped as a sophomore, the 6-foot-3 guard is a natural shot-maker who could thrive in the right system. He's a career 37.5% 3-point shooter and often came up clutch in key situations for a team that secured a No. 5 seed in each of the past two NCAA Tournaments.

44.  Kevin Miller

Old school:  Wake Forest

Miller averaged 15.6 points, 3.5 assists and 1.4 steals while starting all 35 games for Wake Forest in 2023-24. The 6-foot guard is a career 36.5% 3-point shooter and hit 84.5% of his free throws for the Demon Deacons. He's been prone to turnovers but is an offensive spark plug with a proven body of work in a major conference.

45.  Saint Thomas

Old school:   Northern Colorado

Northern Colorado produced a gem last cycle in  Dalton Knecht . Can it come through again? Thomas is a vastly different player but nonetheless intriguing. At 6-7, he averaged 19.7 points, 4.2 assists and 1.7 steals while making 57.2% of his 2-pointers and 33% of his 3s in 2023-24. The dynamic forward began his career at  Loyola Chicago  and has just one season left to play.

46. Tyrese Hunter

Hunter started 71 games over his two seasons at Texas after winning Big 12 Rookie of the Year at Iowa State in 2021-22. Based on the trajectory he established with the Cyclones, Hunter seemed destined to become an all-Big 12 performer. It didn't work out that way, but the 6-foot guard is is talented and could be a difference-maker in the right system.

47. J'Vonne Hadley

Old school: Colorado  | New school: Louisville

Though only a role player on a team oozing talent, the 6-foot-6 wing did a lot for the Buffaloes, averaging 11.6 points, six rebounds and 2.4 assists. He attempted just 1.3 shots from 3-point range but hit 41.7% of them, and was efficient inside the arc (56.5%). A significant role should be available to him at Louisville as the Cardinals reboot under new coach Pat Kelsey.

48. Koren Johnson

Old school: Washington

Johnson earned Pac-12 Sixth Man of the Year honors while averaging 11.1 points, 2.7 assists and 1.2 steals for Washington. The 6-2 guard is a career 35.1% 3-point shooter over his two seasons and also rates as a good defender for his size. 

49.  Tyrin Lawrence

Old school:  Vanderbilt

Lawrence is a 6-4 guard with 105 career appearances for an SEC program under his belt. Though just a career 28.7% 3-point shooter, he's a good defender and averaged better than 13 points per game the past two seasons. He is the type of seasoned veteran with a track record of production who could provide reliable minutes for a good high-major program.

50. Jordan Pope

Old school: Oregon State

Pope averaged 17.6 points and 3.4 assists while shooting 37.1% from beyond the arc for Oregon State as a sophomore in 2023-24. The 6-2 guard needs to improve defensively but is a proven high-major scorer with two years of eligibility remaining.

51. Skyy Clark

Old school: Louisville  | New school: UCLA

After spending one season at Illinois , Clark transferred to Louisville and led the moribund Cardinals in scoring during the 2023-24 season at 13.2 points per game. His career 1:1 assist-turnover ratio is unappealing, but if the former top-40 prospect can fit in with the Bruins, he can turn things around. 

52. Houston Mallette

Old school:  Pepperdine | New school: Alabama

Mallette is a career 37.5% 3-point shooter on 512 attempts over three seasons at Pepperdine. The 6-5 guard upped his mark to a career-best 41.5% in 2023-24 and had big games against quality foes like Indiana State and UNLV . Alabama wasted little time snatching up Mallette. His combination of size and shooting ability should make him a natural fit with the Crimson Tide.

53. Great Osobor

Old school: Utah State

Osobor earned Mountain West Player of the Year honors after averaging 17.7 points, nine rebounds and 1.4 blocks for a Utah State team that won a strong league. The 6-8 big man does his work in the paint and hasn't shown much of an outside shot, but his effectiveness as an interior scorer is tremendous.

54. Aaron Bradshaw

Old school: Kentucky | New school: Ohio State

Bradshaw struggled for minutes as a freshman while navigating a crowded Kentucky frontcourt. He was the No. 5 overall player in the Class of 2023, according to 247Sports, and showed glimpses of promise during his lone season with the Wildcats. The 7-footer can step out and hit 3-pointers and is more mobile as a perimeter defender than most college centers.

55.  Malik Dia

Old school:   Belmont  | New school: Ole Miss

Dia shined as a dynamic frontcourt player in his sophomore season at Belmont after playing sparingly during his freshman season at  Vanderbilt . He averaged 16.9 points and 5.8 boards for the Bruins while shooting 34.1% from 3-point range. He's 6-9 and has surprising athleticism for a player with such a big frame. His game needs refining, but Dia's upside is clear.

56. Dre Davis

Old school: Seton Hall | New school: Ole Miss

Davis averaged 15 points per game and shot 35% from 3-point range in his second season at Seton Hall. It was the fourth season of college basketball for the 6-5 guard, who began his career at Louisville. He averaged 16.6 points, 6.6 rebounds and 2.6 blocks per game during Seton Hall's five-game NIT title run.

57. Michael Ajayi

Old school: Pepperdine | New school: Gonzaga

Ajayi is 6-7 and hit 47% of his 3-pointers on 2.5 attempts per game while averaging 17.2 points in his lone season at Pepperdine. While Ajayi was a rebounding force for the Waves with 9.9 per game, his defense is a question mark. He should be a natural fit at Gonzaga as the Bulldogs seek to build a deeper roster after struggling with depth in 2023-24.

58. Frankie Collins

Old school: Arizona State  | New school: TCU

Collins is only a career 30.8% 3-point shooter, but he is an excellent perimeter defender. The 6-1 guard led the Pac-12 in steals at 2.6 per game during his second season at Arizona State. The former Michigan guard has one season of eligibility remaining.

59. Frankie Fidler

Old school: Omaha

Fidler finished second in the Summit League in scoring at 20.1 points per game. The 6-7 forward hit 35.6% of his 3-point attempts in 2023-24 and was effective against Big 12 foes TCU and Texas Tech . There are many recent examples of players from this league transferring up and playing big roles for good teams.

60. Riley Kugel

Old school: Florida  | New school: Kansas

Kugel is an interesting prospect with good tools and NBA upside; however, the 6-5 wing regressed as a sophomore while shooting just 31.2% from 3-point range. If he can push that closer to 40% and cut back on his turnovers, then Kugel could blossom into an impact 3-and-D player.

61. Mason Gillis

Old school: Purdue

Gillis appeared in 132 games over five seasons at Purdue, serving as a reliable stretch forward while shooting 40.7% from 3-point range. The 6-foot-6 Gillis isn't much of a playmaker or shot creator off the dribble, but he's steady and fully capable of taking on a larger offensive diet than he did with a Boilermakers team that centered everything around Zach Edey.

62. Tre Donaldson

Old school: Auburn

Donaldson averaged 6.7 points, 3.2 assists and shot 41.2% from 3-point range in just 19.3 minute per game at Auburn in 2023-24. With two years of eligibility remaining, the 6-2 Donaldson could be an impact player for a team with a significant role available.

63. Javon Small

Old school: Oklahoma State

Small averaged 15.1 points and 4.1 assists in his lone season at Oklahoma State after spending two years at East Carolina. The 6-2 guard hit 37.4% of his 3-pointers for the Cowboys, although that mark dropped to 31.8% in conference play.

64. Roddy Gayle Jr.

Old school: Ohio State

Gayle is a physical shooting guard who can take defenders off the dribble and use his strength and athleticism to get good looks. He's just a career 33.1% 3-point shooter. But after averaging 13.5 points and 3.1 assists for the Buckeyes as a sophomore, Gayle has shown he can be productive at the high-major level.

65. Sean Pedulla

Old school: Virginia Tech

Pedulla was a mainstay in the Virginia Tech rotation for the past three seasons and led the Hokies in scoring during the 2023-24 campaign at 16.4 points per game. He is a career 35.5% 3-point shooter and dished out 4.6 assists per game during his junior year. The 6-1 guard struggled with turnovers in 2023-24 (3.3 per game) but has enough offensive game to garner significant interest.

66.  Adou Thiero

Kentucky's most effective defensive lineups often featured Thiero. The tenacious 6-6 wing guards and rebounds with a voracious appetite and can score attacking the rim. He's just a career 32.3% 3-point shooter and doesn't have a refined offensive game. Still, his 80% free-throw shooting mark in 2023-24 portends promise, and he could shine if given a greater and more consistent role.

67. Brandon Huntley-Hatfield

Old school: Louisville | New school: NC State

Huntley-Hatfield finally began showing more consistent flashes in 2023-24 of why he was a five-star prospect in the Class of 2021. The 6-10 interior presence averaged 12.9 points and 8.4 rebounds for Louisville. He's not an elite rim protector (0.8 blocks per game in 30.8 minutes) and is just beginning to show comfort as a 3-point shooter. With DJ Burns Jr. gone, there should be plenty of room for Huntley-Hatfield to shine in the NC State frontcourt.

68. Andrew Carr

Old school: Wake Forest

Carr is a stretch four who shot 37.1% from 3-point range on 2.8 attempts per game for Wake Forest during his fourth season of college basketball. The 6-9 forward averaged 13.5 points per game for the Demon Deacons. He is skilled around the rim and serviceable defensively. Carr has one season of eligibility remaining.

69. Eric Dailey

Old school:  Oklahoma State | New school: UCLA

Dailey was a bright spot for Oklahoma State during a down season, averaging 9.3 points and 4.8 rebounds while shooting 49.6% from the floor. The 6-8 forward has three seasons left to play with promise as a versatile forward and the potential to impact both ends of the floor over a three-year period.

70. JP Pegues

Old school: Furman | New school: Auburn

Pegues earned first-team All-SoCon honors after averaging 18.4 points per game and 4.8 assists per game in his third season with a strong Furman program. The 6-5 guard is a career 35.4% 3-point shooter and should be a high-impact player for an Auburn team losing several backcourt pieces.

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  1. Twenty things I wish I'd known when I started my PhD

    Lucy Taylor received her PhD from the University of Oxford, UK, in 2018. Credit: Susanne Vogel. Starting a PhD can be tough. Looking back, there are many things I wish I'd known at the beginning.

  2. What to know before starting your Ph.D. program

    So, it's important to do whatever you need to do to get over impostor syndrome. Have a good cheerleader—such as your partner, a friend, or a family member—to remind you that you're smart, motivated, and hard-working. Accept the compliment because it is true. And remind yourself that everyone is "faking it until they make it."

  3. 10 things you need to know before starting a PhD degree

    5. Embrace change - don't get bogged down in the details. Felix Shaw - one of our bioinformatics researchers at EI - put it best when he said, " it felt like I was running into brick walls all the way through [my PhD]… you'd run into a brick wall, surmount it, only to run straight into another. It's true.

  4. PhD FAQs

    17. In summary, PhD stipends are really not that different to grad starting salaries. Please don't be put off from a PhD simply because for a few years you might be earning a bit less than if you were working in another job. Depending on what you want to do with your career, having a CV may lead to higher salaries.

  5. How to Prepare for and Start a PhD

    When starting a PhD, or as preparation beforehand, it will be helpful to plan your research. This means expanding upon the research proposal, if you have written one, or researching more of the proposed project.It is valuable to become more knowledgeable about the research field, even before you start the PhD research.

  6. How to Apply For a PhD: Step-By-Step

    Step 1: choose your research area. The first, and most obvious, step to applying for a PhD is to decide what research area you want to work in. Whether you're looking for an Arts and Humanities PhD or a STEM one, each individual subject is made up of a vast array of research topics. Most PhD courses will expect students to have a degree in a ...

  7. A Guide to PhD Success: How to Thrive During Doctoral Studies

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  8. Advice for New PhD Students: Your Research Career is a Long Game

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  9. Five tips for starting (and continuing) a PhD

    As it's the start of the academic year I want to share a few of my own tips along those lines, to help get your PhD off to a good start, and keep it on a trajectory you're happy with: 1. Keep notes on everything you read. My PhD, like many, kicked off with lots of reading of textbooks and academic papers. My reading has ebbed and flowed ...

  10. 14 Things you need to know when starting a PhD • The PhD Lab

    12. There is mental help if you need it. There will come a time in your PhD when things won't go well. If this affects you psychologically, find support before you are too far down the hole to reach out. Sit down today, as you have a clear head and are optimistic, and make a list of where you can get help if needed.

  11. Things to Do and Think about Before Starting a PhD Program

    Plan your finances. PhD programs are expensive. Therefore, it is critical to foster good spending and saving habits for oneself when pursuing a doctoral degree. You may start by saving money and planning a simple budget with your new wages. It is also advisable to read a good personal finance book before you begin.

  12. Starting a PhD: What to do in the first 6 months

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  13. PhD Student Advice

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  14. My Advice and Tips for New PhD Students

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  15. 5 Tips for A New PhD Student

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  16. #24: New to the PhD?

    international scholars or teachers that you get to know over time as you attend scientific events. 5. Grow thick skin. Academia is not an environment for the faint-hearted, but an extremely competitive surrounding, where everyone has to fight for their space, jobs, funding or a better place in rankings.

  17. A Guide to Your First Week as A PhD Student

    You'll likely have some downtime during your first week as a PhD student, try to use this time to explore as much of your new working environment as possible. 4. Get to Know the Admin Staff. You'll get to know your supervisor (s) very well over the course of your PhD but also make friends with the admin staff in your department.

  18. Starting a PhD? What to do in the first 6 months.

    Here are 13 things that need attention: 1. People: Get to know some other PhD students. 2. Find out where the best coffee shops are and where the most interesting 2nd hand book shops are. Get some ...

  19. Top Tips for Starting a PhD at a New University

    Here are my top tips for starting at a new university for your PhD: #1 Become familiar with the procedures and techniques they use in your new department. You may find that your new university utilises different academic processes to what you're used to. This could include a new way of carrying out experimental techniques to an alternative ...

  20. 10 (more) things you should know before starting a PhD

    1. Choosing an institute or a university. Many PhD students don't consider the differences between a supervisor who works at a research institute or one who works at a university. There are advantages and disadvantages to both….and it's worth thinking about this, depending on what you want to do with your PhD.

  21. The New PhD

    The New PhD is a toolbox for practical change that will teach readers how to achieve consensus on goals, garner support, and turn talk to action. Speaking to all stakeholders in graduate education—faculty, administrators, and students—it promises that graduates can become change agents throughout our world.

  22. How Getting A Ph.D. Prepared Me To Run A Startup

    2. Identify the problems before setting to solve them. This may sound simple, but trust me, finding a problem is sometimes way harder than coming up with a solution to an existing problem. I ...

  23. How can a PhD prepare you to start and run a company?

    Dr. Cooper explained that, from the perspective of a capital investor or consulting firm, funding or hiring a professional with a PhD has two sides. On one hand, you will be seen as smart, a fast-learner and an independent professional. On the other hand, regarding the business and market literacy, you will be seen as naïve.

  24. Where To Earn An Online Ph.D. In Marketing In 2024

    A Ph.D. from National University costs $26,520, while the same degree from Kennesaw State University costs a minimum of $18,384. However, the tuition rates for Ph.D. programs vary significantly ...

  25. Happier neighborhoods start in the front yard

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