During last fall, a few of us PhD students in the HCI group designed a reading course together. Reading courses are very common in Swedish PhD education — they involve reading a number of papers and books on a specific topic and discussing them within a small focus group. These groups are often very small which allows for very concentrated and in-depth discussions.
In the HCI group, we all have very different backgrounds and study subjects, so our idea was to develop a course broader than our research subject and more aimed towards what it entails to be a researcher and to work in academia.
We decided on three themes that we all agreed were central for our everyday work:
- to review,
- to publish, and
- to write
All of these are linked to essential skills for a researcher. However, these skills are also very difficult to teach. What does it take to be a good writer, other than practice? How do you get a paper published and what does it mean if it gets rejected?
In the course we saw that there are in fact a lot of very helpful tips and tricks that are unfortunately rarely shared among colleagues. Guided by the papers and books we read (a list of the literature can be found here) we had many helpful discussions and could learn a lot from each other’s experiences. In the following weeks, we will share some of our lessons learned in a series of blog posts here. We hope they will be useful to other PhD students, but also to advisors wondering how they can help their students in becoming independent researchers.