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Nothing says “shut up & write” like a pandemic

  • Read papers. You do this consistently in 1st year, but once you’re deep into data collection and analysis… not so much. And once you start the write up, you realise you have about 500 papers in your To-Read folder. Get this out of the way! Take notes, think about which chapter this could go in, prepare everything for the write up!
  • Write. Write drafts of intros, methods, results. Even if you don’t have results, you can write a template. Even if you end up ditching the what you wrote, having a couple of paragraphs will help you get started when you’re writing.
  • Learn R. Honestly. If you don’t already know it, learn R. If you know it already, learn Python. Research is moving towards transparent and reproducible practices. This means scripts. That’s a harsh truth, but very soon the ability to code will not be what makes you stand out, but very basic requirement. You can do like me, and struggle for months to tidy your data and run simple ANOVAs and regression models, or you can use the next few weeks to get a head start. It is very hard to learn R when you’re not truly using it, but believe me, any progress you can make now will be rewarded when you analyse your data (or when you try and get a job).
  • Renew your passion for your project by doing some Sci-Com. Almost everybody is stuck at home, and Netflix will only take them so far. There are loads of very cool initiatives to bring science online, like Skype A Scientist, but you can also start blogging or vlogging about your research, have a Q&A, or whatever medium you’re into! During challenging times, I’ve always found that taking a step back and explaining my work to others renewed my motivation like nothing else.

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