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How to Survive Your PhD: The Insider's Guide to Avoiding Mistakes, Choosing the Right Program, Working with Professors, and Just How a Person Actually Writes a 200-Page Paper Paperback – December 1, 2009

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About the Author

Dr. Jason Karp received his PhD in exercise physiology in 2007 after seven years of doctoral work, during which he learned everything you shouldn't do if you want a PhD in four years. He is a prolific freelance writer and professional running coach. He lives in San Diego, CA.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

"Life is the sum of all your choices."
—Albert Camus

When I was in high school, my electronics teacher had a silly, fortune-cookie saying to remind his students not to touch electrical wires with two hands and risk shock: "One hand in pockey, no get shockey." Like touching wires with both hands, there's a wrong way to do almost everything. For example, going down a park slide head first, throwing a paper airplane at your high school teacher, and not buying your twin brother a birthday present, instead claiming that you forgot his birthday, would all be considered by most as errors in judgment. I'll be the first to admit I don't always make the best decisions; but I've learned a great deal from my mistakes and, hopefully, you can, too.

Life, as we all know, is full of choices. Some choices are big (like where you attend college, who you marry, whether or not you have kids), but some choices are small (like which movie you see, whether you buy a microwave at Target or Walmart, whether you have a grande peppermint mocha Frappuccino or a venti chai latté at Starbucks). Some of the choices we make are good, and some are bad. However, the key to making any choice, especially the more important ones, is information. The more information we have about our options, the better the chance of making good decisions. And when it comes to getting a PhD degree, there are many options and many choices.

Choosing the PhD

Everyone is different, and naturally, people choose to get a PhD for a variety of reasons, including:

  • For the pursuit of knowledge
  • For the prerequisite to becoming a college professor
  • For the love of research
  • For future professional opportunities
  • For the delay of getting a job
  • For status and acclaim
  • For fear of "the real world"
  • For an ego boost (my favorite reason)

Ego
Ego is such a big part of the PhD that it should be spelled with a capital E. Despite what someone tells you is his or her reason for achieving a doctorate degree, there is always at least some amount of Ego behind it-there are tons of people in academia with big Egos. After all, it's pretty cool to be called "doctor." Let's face it: it makes you feel good.

Did you know that less than 1 percent of the U.S. population has a PhD? According to the Chronicle of Higher Education and National Science Foundation, 43,354 PhDs were awarded by U.S. schools in 2005 (their most recent data). Of these, 27,974 were awarded in science and engineering disciplines, and 15,380 were awarded in liberal arts and humanities disciplines. In the sciences, 7,406 PhDs were awarded in agricultural science; biological science; computer science; earth, atmospheric, and ocean sciences; and mathematics; 3,647 were awarded in chemistry; physics; astronomy; psychology; and social sciences; and 6,404 were awarded in engineering (e.g., chemical, civil, electrical, mechanical, and other types). Sounds like a lot of PhDs hanging around, but these figures are actually quite small when you consider there are over 300 million people living and working in the United States.

These small numbers are one reason why doctors, whether they've earned PhDs or MDs, hold such a prestigious role in society today. People look up to them. Ego may not be the driving force behind someone's decision to pursue his or her PhD, but it's usually there if you look deep enough.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Sourcebooks (December 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1402226675
  • ISBN-13: 978-1402226670
  • Product Dimensions: 8.7 x 6.5 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #95,675 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Dr. Jason Karp is one of America's foremost running experts, established writer and author, exercise physiologist, and creator of the Run-Fit Specialist certification. He owns Run-Fit, the premier provider of innovative running and fitness services. He has been profiled in a number of publications and is the 2011 IDEA Personal Trainer of the Year (the fitness industry's highest award) and 2014 recipient of the President's Council on Fitness, Sports, & Nutrition Community Leadership Award.

Dr. Karp has given dozens of international lectures and has been a featured speaker at most of the world's top fitness conferences and coaching clinics, including Asia Fitness Convention, Indonesia Fitness & Health Expo, FILEX Fitness Convention, U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association Convention, American College of Sports Medicine Conference, IDEA World Fitness Convention, SCW Fitness MANIA, National Strength and Conditioning Association Conference, ECA World Fitness Convention, and CanFitPro, among others. He has taught USA Track & Field's highest level coaching certification and has led coaching camps at the U.S. Olympic Training Center.

A prolific writer, Jason has more than 200 articles published in numerous international coaching, running, and fitness trade and consumer magazines, including Track Coach, Techniques for Track & Field and Cross Country, New Studies in Athletics, Running Times, Runner's World, Women's Running, Marathon & Beyond, Fitness

Management, IDEA Fitness Journal, Oxygen, SELF, PTontheNet.com, Shape, Ultra-Fit, and Maximum Fitness, among others. He is also author of five books: Running a Marathon For Dummies, Running for Women, 101 Winning Racing Strategies for Runners, 101 Developmental Concepts & Workouts for Cross Country Runners, and How to Survive Your PhD. He is currently working on his sixth book, The Inner Runner. He is also the editor of the sixth edition of Track & Field Omnibook and is the senior online content editor for Active Network.

At age 24, Dr. Karp became one of the youngest college head coaches in the country, leading the Georgian Court University women's cross country team to the regional championship and winning honors as NAIA Northeast Region Coach of the Year. He has also coached high school track and field and cross country. His personal training experience ranges from elite athletes to cardiac rehab patients. As a private coach, he has helped many runners meet their potential, ranging from a first-time race participant to an Olympic Trials qualifier. A competitive runner since sixth grade, Dr. Karp is a nationally-certified running coach through USA Track & Field, is sponsored by PowerBar and Brooks, and was a member of the silver-medal winning United States masters team at the 2013 World Maccabiah Games in Israel.

Dr. Karp received his PhD in exercise physiology with a physiology minor from Indiana University in 2007, his master's degree in kinesiology from the University of Calgary in 1997, and his bachelor's degree in exercise and sport science with an English minor from Penn State University in 1995. His research has been published in the scientific journals Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, and International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance.

Follow Jason on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube:

http://www.facebook.com/DrJasonKarpRunFit
https://twitter.com/drjasonkarp
http://instagram.com/drjasonkarp
http://www.youtube.com/runcoachjason

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By hansbanans on November 7, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Let me start with a little back story of why I bought this book: I am currently in my 3rd year of a PhD program, and the "3rd year slump" has hit me hard. My research is frustrating. I feel alienated from my peers and my advisor/committee. After reading the reviews for this book I thought this might offer some help. I was hoping for advice on how to deal with so many of the frustrations and let downs of getting a PhD. Something inspirational, possibly even uplifting.

Nope. That is not this book.

To be frank, I spent more than half of the book rolling my eyes at various passive-aggressive quips at the author's advisor and fellow students. By the end, this felt more like a book on how to blame other people when your PhD takes much longer than you expected. Which is a pity, because I think this story had good teaching potential. I can't even begin to imagine how frustrating and disheartening it would be to work on my PhD for seven years! The author could have turned that experience into something positive, by giving concrete examples of how he dealt with problems, instead of just complaining about them and then advising to avoiding them in the first place. For example, the author complains multiple times about the frustrations of Human Subjects Committees. We get it. Bureaucracy is tedious and takes a long time. But if you do human research it is something you just have to deal with. How about some tips on speeding up the process (eg submitting a modification of a pre-existing protocol instead of a whole new protocol)? Or advising good time management: while you are waiting for IRB approval, could you be doing some in vitro work instead? Or getting an in-depth knowledge of the literature? Or working as a TA to pay off some student loans? Nope. You will find little of that here.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Netzwerkerin on June 9, 2011
Format: Paperback
This book intends to help you through your PhD. It is mainly targeted to studies in the US, so only 2/3 of the book apply to the PhD process in general. It adresses important aspects but much of the advice is very awkward: although I can kind of understand how the author got into the situation, offering money to make your PhD advisor read a first version of your thesis faster is clearly very misguided. I had a very severe moment of fremdschaemen (feeling embarassed yourseelf when watching somebody doing something embarrasing) when I read this paragraph and much of the rest of the book. Despite its strange title I recommend to read How to Survive your Doctorate (Open Up Study Skills) instead. Very good book, many important points covered. Last word: find others to talk to, almost all of them go through the same hard time. Also check out the material at the 'nurturing scientists' website by Uri Alon.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Eduardo Bessa on December 21, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The book brings good discussions, but I felt it more the authors anecdotes than I think it should be. Prefer the Chicago Guide for your career in Science or Chakrabarty's "A guide to academia"
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How to Survive Your PhD has been one of the best investments I've made in my academic life and I recommend it to anyone spinning their wheels or having conflict with their committee. Get on your A Game and finish your PhD!!

When I thought I understood how to explain my process and reasons behind my dissertation, Jason let me know (through his book) that I was simply explaining things incorrectly and leaving my readers confused. I enjoyed the examples he shared because they were detailed and showed why these mistakes are common among PhD students.

Great way to get the ball rolling and be on your way to finishing your PhD. Just when I was about to give up I found How to Survive Your PhD. Concepts (such as Conceptual Framework and breaking down the process) that I had difficulty with were addressed by Jason.
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By Edward S. Jackson on February 19, 2015
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Okay, after reading a few reviews here...I see you either hated the book, or loved it. I loved it. People ask, where's the advice? His experience IS the advice. The author is funny in places, very intelligent in some places...and downright wise in other places. I wasn't looking for an exact how-to guide, but more of what a PhD experience is like. The book describes that. If you're just looking for how-to's, just Google it. If you're looking for insight into a student's PhD journey, this book is for you. I liked the book...and would recommend it to a person in their master's program...so they could see what lies ahead.
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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Reddog on July 4, 2011
Format: Paperback
Save your money. The author was ill-prepared to do his PhD and provides no new insights for those considering graduate school. There are several factual errors including the career options for people earning PhD's. Do not assume that doctoral programs only prepare you for a career in academia. Robert Peters' book Get What You Came For is much more thorough and helpful.
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I was searching for a book that could inform me concerning programs and schools in reference to completing a post doctorate degree and this was the book!! It also gave me a detailed and comprehensive look into the many important aspects of completing a successful program in ones chosen field of study.
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By Blue Richards on October 27, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Love this book! Great sense of humor & wonderful insight - I highly recommend this book top anyone considering graduate school :)
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