Home Research Publications Talks Personal FAQ Bio
Grad School Advice
All of these links worked as of Sept 20, 2006. As expected, since I am a computer science graduate student professor, there is a bias towards that discipline. My favorites are highlighted in bold.
Applying to Grad School
   What is graduate school for? How long is the program? Is it right for me?

Starting Out at Grad School
   What is expected of me in grad school? How do I find an advisor?

Learning How to do Research
   What exactly is research? How do I select research problems? How do I do good research?

  • You and Your Research by Richard Hamming (Backup link)
    This is a fantastic inspiration for all researchers at all stages of their careers. Here's an excerpt I sometimes tell students:
    And I started asking, "What are the important problems of your field?" And after a week or so, "What important problems are you working on?" And after some more time I came in one day and said, "If what you are doing is not important, and if you don't think it is going to lead to something important, why are you at Bell Labs working on it?" I wasn't welcomed after that; I had to find somebody else to eat with!
  • The Baltimore Case
    I recently finished reading this book and I think it's an incredible story about science, politics, people, and the elusive nature of truth. This book details a large research scandal indirectly involving Nobel prize winner David Baltimore, but is also useful for understanding the scientific process, community standards, and differences in scientific interpretation.

  • An Unwelcome Discovery, in NYTimes Magazine (Oct 22, 2006)
    This article discusses a case of scientific fraud in health sciences.

  • How to Build an Economic Model in your Spare Time (1994), by Hal Varian
    This is an essay providing advice to graduate students in economics about how to do economic modeling. It was written for the American Economist, and is part of a collection titled Passion and Craft: Economists at Work, edited by Michael Szenberg, University of Michigan Press, 1997.

  • Cargo Cult Science (1974), by Richard Feynman
    Feynman's perspective on being honest with yourself and not deluding yourself. From a Caltech commencement address given in 1974. Also in his autobiography Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!

  • Technology and Courage (1996), by Ivan Sutherland

  • How to Have a Bad Career in Research / Academia (1997), by Dave Patterson (Backup link here)

  • How to Read a Research Paper by Spencer Rugaber
  • How to do Research At the MIT AI Lab (1998), edited by David Chapman
  • (Backup link here)

  • The Research Cycle by Ashwin Ram
  • How to Read a Book, by Mortimer Adler and Charles van Doren.
    This book teaches you how to do active reading, that is reading a book critically and linking ideas in that book to ideas from other places.
Writing Conference and Journal Papers
   or, Why do computer scientists have so much advice on writing well?

Making Presentations
   How do I not put everyone to sleep?

I didn't realize it when I first entered grad school, but communicating with others is a key part to success in research. When I entered Berkeley's computer science program, I thought I'd spend 80% of my time coding, and the rest talking and writing about it. On reflection, it's probably 70% of my time thinking, talking, and writing about it, and about 30% coding.
Dissertations
   What do I have to do to get out of here?

Finding Jobs / The Job Talk
   You mean there's more to do?
Retrospectives on Graduate School
   What did I get out of grad school?
After Graduate School
   Any advice after I graduate?

In the remote case there really is life after graduate school... ahh, I guess that line was funnier when I was still a grad student.

Other Graduate School Advice Pages
   What other advice is out there?

Many of the links presented here are compilations of the following pages, some of whom (alas) no longer exist.

Other Graduate Student Links