Pro-tips for graduate students (Part 4)

This is part of the ongoing series of pro tips for graduate students, check out parts onetwo and three for the original installments. 

  1. You can never underestimate how little your audience knows/cares about what you are talking about (so be clear and start with the “why”).
  2. Perfect is the enemy of good (so do something good and perfect it later).
  3. Learn about as many different areas as you can. You have to focus on one problem to get a Ph.D. (your dissertation) but the best way to get new ideas is to talk to people in areas with different problems than you have. This is the source of many of the “Big Impact” papers. Resources for talking about new ideas ranked according to formality: seminar, working groups, meeting with faculty/other students, going for a beer with some friends.
  4. Here are some ways to come up with a new method: (i) create a new method for a new data type, (ii) adapt an old/useful method to a new data type, (iii) an overlooked problem, (iv) changing the assumptions of a current method, and (v) generalizing a known method. Any can be impactful, but the highest probability of high impact in my experience is (ii).