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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on November 7, 2011
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. However, you will walk away with the impression that IRB's are brutally slow and are probably plotting against you.

Even more concerning, some of the advice in this book is not only bad, but could actually get you in trouble! The author suggests that you try to "recycle" your writing, claiming that you cannot plagiarize yourself - not true! He also talks often of how he made money on the side by writing for a commercial magazine, but he never cautions that if you are funded 100% by NIH, NSF, etc that you are not supposed to have an outside job. Here's my hint to surviving grad school: if you want to go into academics, don't piss off your main funding agency by publishing plagiarized magazine articles.

By far the most helpful parts of this book were the tips on working with your advisor, like only giving them a chapter at a time to read, or highlighting the relevant changes. I also found the chapter on writing your dissertation helpful, especially the tips on how to write a little every day. Although the list of phrases you should use was particularly horrifying - just because everyone else in science overuses passive voice doesn't mean you should too! Nevertheless, I did find this chapter helpful, and it earns the book 2 stars.

All in all, I suggest passing on this one.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on June 9, 2011
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
on December 21, 2012
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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on February 19, 2015
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
on July 4, 2011
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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on August 26, 2012
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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on October 27, 2013
Love this book! Great sense of humor & wonderful insight - I highly recommend this book top anyone considering graduate school :)
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on August 26, 2014
If you are PhD student, you realy need to read this book. It is very helpful and easy to read.
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4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on February 6, 2010
This is a great book - I finished this book in only two days. The author breaks down the major parts of doctoral study and uses his own experiences to share what to do in order to be successful as well as "what not to do" if you want to earn a PhD. This is a timely book for me as I have submitted applications and am hoping to start on my PhD in Fall of 2010.
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