3 minute readSetting up everything for my PhD

A bit over a month ago, I started my PhD, which I do at Resilience with the supervision of Wageningen University. Considering what I studied, it is a perfect next step: it combines irrigation and remote sensing.

The first weeks of my PhD

Right now, I am busy reading relevant literature and training to figure out
the specific topics that I want to research. But as any programmer likes, I
took my time to set up my online environment. During both my MSc theses, I
started with a system as well, but after some time, my libraries were a mess,
and I didn’t bother with the system anymore. This also had to do with the period
of the project: soon I would be done, and all that additional work would have
been for nothing.

But this project will take 4 years, so I wanted to start strong. I started my preparation by just typing “PhD tips and tricks” into duckduckgo and similar terms. The tip I saw most was that you just need to start writing, preferably every day (and then there are some strategies to doing that as well). So that’s what I did (for the last week, which is when I searched for tips and tricks .. So far, so good :D). What I also saw a lot was methods of keeping notes, and software to support this.

Keeping notes of thoughs and progress

Scrivener came up a few times, so I tried it out. But after trying the
tutorial and playing around with it for half a day, I decided I did not want to
learn a new program, so I looked for alternatives. This was when I facepalmed
myself… I wrote my other theses in LaTeX (a document preparation system) and now
remembered that I would be perfect for keeping notes and stuff. So I set up
three projects (they are not called projects in Texstudio, an interface
for LaTeX), but I refer to them like that. One is some kind of lab book, the
other a paper summary document, and the third is the actual proposal writing material. I will show the templates sometime later on, right now I am still refining
them (updating them with a regular search for new tips and tricks online).

Reading articles for the proposal

In addition to blogs of other PhD students, where I get some of my info
from, there are countless books with their own tips on writing manuscripts.

One of the books is about literature reading and using a template for note keeping. My previous literature reading experiences can all be summed up into the following cycle:

I find an interesting article and save it >> I scan it and take out the relevant parts >> I forget I’ve read the article until the end >> I find an interesting article and save it, only to figure out I’ve already read it ages before >> I waste time figuring out what it was that was so interesting …

So now I’m reading in a more structured way, and hopefully, this will pay off
in the long run.


So, that’s what’s keeping me busy now. I will transform this blog into a
more personal blog where I write my thoughts, which will hopefully trigger some
responses with tips and tricks. In the future, I will add the templates of the
LaTeX documents I use, and some other software that might be interesting by
that time.

Until then, I’ll just continue reading my ever growing literature list …

From PHD comics off course … A good source for relating to common issues.

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