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A Guide to Academia: Getting into and Surviving Grad School, Postdocs and a Research Job Paperback – March 20, 2012

ISBN-13: 978-0470960417 ISBN-10: 0470960418 Edition: 1st

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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: 9.5 x 6.7 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,198,279 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


“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)

More About the Author

Prosanta Chakrabarty is an ichthyologist and evolutionary biologist working as an assistant professor and curator of fishes at Louisiana State University. He was born in Montreal and moved to New York City with his family when he was 1. He grew up in Bayside, Queens and went to Cardozo High School. He met his wife Annemarie while attending McGill University for his bachelor's degree. They moved to Ann Arbor in 2001 so that he could attend graduate school at the University of Michigan. He graduated with his PhD in 2006 and moved back to New York as a postdoc at the American Museum of Natural History. In 2008 he was hired as an assistant professor in the department of Biological Sciences at LSU, and as curator of fishes at the Museum of Natural Science in Baton Rouge. He has published over 30 scientific articles; "A Guide to Academia" is his first book. Prosanta is also the proud father of identical twin girls born in 2011. Read more about him at www.prosanta.net and follow him on Twitter @LSU_FISH

Customer Reviews

Overall, I was pleasantly surprised at the jargonless and easy to read style of this book.
The earlier sections are vital information that anyone interested in graduate school should read; and read as early as possible in their research career.
Dr. Chakrabarty has done a wonderful job compiling all of the information you need to know to become an academic.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Carl on May 19, 2012
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.


"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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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Kevin Currie-Knight TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 17, 2012
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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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By kelsie VINE VOICE on May 2, 2012
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Chakrabarty's "A Guide to Academia" IS:
* An entertaining, engaging overview of the academic's life cycle, from infancy (application to grad school) to mid-life (the tenured assistant professorship).
* A great way to meet the often overly-complex world of the Ivory Tower for the first time.
* An important primer for would-be and current academics-in-training on what life is like in the mysterious halls of the university.

"A Guide to Academia" is NOT:
* A comprehensive, one-stop "field guide" to life in the Ivory Tower (in fairness, NO book is this, although The Chicago Guide to Your Academic Career: A Portable Mentor for Scholars from Graduate School through Tenure is closer).
* A wide-ranging treatment that at least touches on the differences between the grad experiences of many different disciplines.
* An infallible source of guidance (again, NO book is this).

Chakrabarty's book is terrific for upper-level undergrads who want to know three things:
1. What is the application process like for grad school?
2. What will "grad school" (broadly speaking) be like, and how is that different from what I'm doing now in undergraduate school?
3. Where does all this stuff--the application, admission, and grad school--lead?

Like all books, of course, a large amount of Chakrabarty's material is targeted to his graduate experience (biological sciences). This is a fair limitation and doesn't render the book useless, but it does mean that some parts of the book (several of the appendices) are less immediately useful than others.
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