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A Guide to Academia: Getting into and Surviving Grad School, Postdocs and a Research Job 1st Edition

4.1 out of 5 stars 22 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0470960417
ISBN-10: 0470960418
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Editorial Reviews

Review

“Overall, this is a useful, practical handbook on academic careers in any specific discipline as well as nonscience fields.  Summing Up: Recommended.  All students, researchers/faculty, and professionals." (Choice, 1 December 2012) 

“The comprehensive overview A Guide to Academiaprovides will be useful to any scientist embarking on a career in academia.”  (Science, 8 June 2012)

From the Back Cover

On the surface the academic career path seems straightforward, with a logical progression from undergrad to graduate student to postdoc to professor. In reality there are many twists, turns, obstacles and pitfalls that can stand in the way of a successful and rewarding academic career. A Guide to Academia: Getting into and Surviving Grad School, Postdocs, and a Research Job is a practical resource to help students and early
career scientists successfully navigate the ups and downs of academic careers.

A Guide to Academia provides real-life insights and insider tips on everything you didn’t know you needed to know about grad school, postdocs, and academic careers. Chapters give practical and transferable advice on many of the issues you will face in your early academic career from finding an advisor to applying for jobs and giving scientific talks.

Written by a Ph. D. who has traveled down this same career path, and filled with useful real world examples, A Guide to Academia will provide readers with an invaluable head start to their academic career.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell; 1 edition (March 20, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0470960418
  • ISBN-13: 978-0470960417
  • Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 0.3 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #665,736 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Lars Bergstrom VINE VOICE on April 27, 2012
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
As a near-graduation Computer Science PhD student, I was interested in this book. Unfortunately for me, it was far too research 1 biology-centric to be of direct use, but I would highly recommend it for students in that area.

Just a couple of the things that were different from my own area are:
- CS job talks are not "chalk talks," but instead are job talks that need to be pitched differently depending on the type of institution you are going to
- Post-doc positions are fairly plentiful in CS even at top-tier institutions, due to the high demand for PhD graduates from industry

There was also a small tendency to be a bit anecdotal instead of factual (e.g. claimed 5-10% NSF funding rates, but they were much higher than that in all areas, including bio, as a quick search of data.gov will report).

Those complaints aside, this book was well-written, direct, and avoided the storytelling approach common to these types of books. The author did a good job of packing a ton of factual data into this small volume, and if he had been just a bit less wide in his claims of applicability, I think it would be even better.
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Format: Paperback
I am interested in a research career in the natural sciences, so I was eager to read this new guide. Unfortunately, I don't feel that the book addressed any of the questions that I had about the whole process. I am left wondering if the author should have waited until she was further along in her career before she wrote this guide. I also wish that the book was edited better; this was a huge distraction. Frequently, relevant sections are quizzically in the wrong place (e.g., hints to being a postdoc buried in that assistant professor section) that give the book an unpleasant stream of consciousness feel.

The only good thing I can say about this guide is that it is written in a breezy, friendly manner, so it is a quick read. As noted by a previous reviewer, I believe this has to do with the fact that the author never really goes into any depth with any topics. It seems clear that the author based this on her experiences and did not do any research to support her arguments. This was excruciating at times. Given that this was written by a scientist, where are the data or citations to back up the many assertions?

For example,

"I have often found that master's students at universities without a Ph.D. program are better students than master's students at Ph.D.-granting institutions." (Kindle Locations 493-494)

This is a pretty strong *personal* view, and it is one that should never had passed an editor's desk without data to support it. It can only serve to discourage eager Masters students, particularly those working at Louisiana State University.

or

"The discrepancy in women's pay may have more to do with negotiating tactics than sexism" (Kindle Location 2949)

Really? Maybe.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
After I saw this author, and in particular, this book in Science, I had to get it. A lot of reviews comment on how this book is about the author's personal experience, but I don't think the prestigious journal would spend time with a book they think is unreflective of the realities of Grad school.

This book is a bit out of date on how the GRE works, and I don't like some of the advice. I would much rather publish papers in greater quality than greater quantity. However, people need to live in the real world, and so do I. If I enter academia, I know I need a large list of publications. Once I get into a tenure-track position, I have to be good at begging for money, I mean applying for grants. It saddens me that this is the way it is in American academia, but I need to prepare myself for it.

I'm not going to skip a masters. I want to hit the ground running for a Ph.D. That's why I want to get more information and learn more techniques before applying for a Ph.D. The author says to skip it, but I'm going to disagree.

Anyway, it was a fun book. I personally couldn't put it down. There are a lot of tips in there I plan to do. I'll also try to publish each chapter of my dissertation.
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Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I am going to second what some of the other reviewers have said. By way of brief background, I am currently ending my third year of PhD study in the field of Education, writing my dissertation.

Basically, this book is a pretty decent guide to the entire grad school process, from choosing the school that is best to applying to jobs after grad school. As another reviewer said, though, this book is quite specifically tailored, seemingly, to R1 universities, so if your goal is to become a teaching professor (or go into a discipline that is outside of the natural sciences, where the author spends most of her time), this book will be decent, but of limited value.

But my big criticism is that while this is a decent comprehensive guide to the entire grad school process, its breadth comes at the price of depth. If you want to read a chapter on how to plan a dissertation, get this. But realistically, no one writing a dissertation will benefit from reading A CHAPTER when there are plenty of books out there totally devoted to dissertation writing (because the subject IS that complex and in need of deep treatment). Same goes for applying to grad school: read a book on that, not a chapter.

So, while this may be a good book to read for someone getting the feel of what they will need to know across the board when going to grad school, the big picture approach will not give you any close-ups, and close-up, detailed, knowledge of each process is what you will need when you are in grad school.

My recommendation is to read this ONLY as a vague primer and then read books on each subject as needed.
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