Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

*I'm a Grad Student! Now what?

Things researchers learn --that's right, learn; not things just intuitively known

Graduate School is fabulous and exciting!  But . . .it is also:

  • Challenging both in learning a new discipline and developing balance; achieving balance among work, school, and life.
    • It takes some letting go of perfectionism and developing perseverance.
    • Sleep!  You really will 'do' better when you get enough
    • Self-care: What is essential to you? Exercise? Watching TV? Draw? Zentangle? Knit? Seeing friends? Schedule time for what is your essential for coping.
  • Satisfying
    • A sense of accomplishment in gradually mastering the depth of content
    • When you feel overwhelmed remember everyone had to work to learn one's chosen discipline; no one knew the body of knowledge without your same struggle(s).
  • Unwritten expectations
    • Who knew all the other scholarly activities that are 'required': workshops, conferences, writing and publishing, networking, skill building
  • Graded differently
    • Usually fewer papers but each 'counts' more heavily.
    • Hint: strategize to make each useful in other avenues: toward your literature review, for publication (or can be revised/added to), conference presentation etc.
  • Social change
    • Grad school can be lonely
  • Financially worrisome
    • Often are (or feel) 'poor' in that every penny must count

Metacognition--what is that and why would you care?

Think about the list of 'abilities': do you already possess each?  These take reflection (and self-honesty) but likely help you grow from student to academic; student to life-long learner.

Metacognition is the ability to:

  • Think about one's own thinking
  • Be consciously aware of oneself as a problem solver
  • Monitor, plan, and control one's mental processing
    • Am I understanding this material, OR just memorizing?
  • Accurately judge one's level of learning

From: Flavell, J.H. (1976). Metacognitive aspects of problem solving.  In L.B. Resnick (Ed.), The nature of intelligence (pp.231-236). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum

Reading research articles--reading to understand the content and then critique it--is a learned skill.

Below are links to several articles that will walk you through the process.  Whether the tutorial is titled a scientific or research paper, the processes are essentially the same.  The same skills will translate to non-scientific or humanities based materials.

Mary Purugganan and Jan Hewitt: How to Read a Scientific Article  (their worksheet/template is below)

Critically Reading Journal Articles


Turning Research Questions into Search Terms: How To and Worksheet

How to organize all your research