Learning Skills Services, Student Development Centre

Graduate Students

Learning Skills Services helps students succeed in graduate school. Check out the services below for information and ideas on how to balance the challenges of conducting research, writing your dissertation, and being an effective teacher. For tips on time management for grad students, click here.

Presentations and Workshops for Graduate Students

Presentations and workshops offered by SDC's Learning Skills Counsellors are described below.

Time Management for Graduate Students

Good time management skills are often crucial to your success as a graduate student. This Learning Skills presentation offers planning and organizational strategies and explores ways to increase motivation and productivity.

  • Click here for current offerings and online registration. Note: Not all topics are offered each term.

Reading Strategies for Graduate Students

In this workshop we will discuss and practice various efficient and effective approaches to reading academic material, including skimming, scanning, and careful/analytical reading. We will also address how to deal with a large volume of reading, and with difficult parts of text. The last thirty minutes will be devoted to issues relating to reading in a second or non-primary language, including strategies for approaching difficult vocabulary.

  • Click here for current offerings and online registration. Note: Not all topics are offered each term.

Transitioning to Graduate School

Making the transition to graduate school can be exciting, but also challenging. In this workshop we will explore the common challenges students encounter in graduate school and gain a better understanding of the expectations and demands of graduate level work. We will identify the skills that are most important to your success as a graduate student, and we will explore strategies and resources that will help you to more effectively manage and progress through this new and exciting learning journey.

  • Click here for current offerings and online registration. Note: Not all topics are offered each term.

GRADUpdATE: Twice Monthly E-Newsletter

Subscribe to GRADUpdATE, our twice monthly E-Newsletter especially for graduate students. Every two weeks receive helpful suggestions and useful information on how to succeed in grad school. To receive, send an e-mail to gradupdate-request@uwo.ca. Type 'subscribe' as the subject and send - that's it!

To access archives of past GRADUpdATE newsletters, click here

Individual Counselling

Looking for help developing a plan to complete your thesis? Wanting progress check-ins to help keep you on track? Wondering how to improve your time management? Book a confidential individual appointment with a Learning Skills Counsellor in the Student Development Centre, Room 4100 WSS or call 519-661-2183.

PAL Centre

If you are working with undergraduate students (e.g. you are a course TA) please feel free to refer your students to the Peer Assisted Learning (PAL) Centre for assistance with developing effective and efficient learning strategies. Please click here for more information about the types of issues we help students with in the PAL Centre.

Graduate students looking for volunteer experience are invited to apply for a Learning Skills Peer position in the PAL Centre. For more information, please visit SDC's Volunteers in Progress (VIP) website.

Self-help Books in Resource Library

Self-help books for graduate students are available in our Resource Library in Room 4139, WSS. For more information, click here.

The Ph.D. Process: A Student's Guide to Graduate School in the Sciences (1998) by Dale Bloom, Jonathan Karp, and Nicholas Cohen

Chapter Overview:
(1) Deciding to go to graduate school
(2) Selecting an advisor: Whose lab is right for me?
(3) The stages of graduate school
(4) Classes, journal clubs, lab meetings, and seminars
(5) The absent professor
(6) How you learn
(7) Deciding on research projects for your dissertation
(8) Networking
(9) Picking a dissertation committee, and defending the proposal at the preliminary oral exam
(10) The life of a graduate student
(11) Some additional aspects of graduate school life: Lab notebooks, etiquette, competition, luck
(12) Do I belong here?: Insecurity and stress
(13) Foreign students: Unique problems and stresses
(14) On the art of scientific writing
(15) What should your goals be while in graduate school?
(16) Times they are a-changing
(17) The end is in sight: Writing the dissertation
(18) The final oral exam (the defense)

The Research Student's Guide to Success (2000) by Pat Cryer

Chapter Overview:
(1) Introduction
(2) Exploring the opportunities for postgraduate study and research
(3) Liaising with institutions
(4) Setting yourself up in a supportive way of life: The pervasive influences of personal circumstances
(5) Settling in as a new student
(6) Towards recognizing quality in research
(7) Interacting with your supervisor(s)
(8) Keeping records
(9) Planning ahead
(10) Managing yourself and your time
(11) Taking responsibility for your own progress
(12) Cooperating with others for mutual help and support
(13) Producing reports
(14) Giving presentations on your work
(15) Using the research programme as preparation for employment
(16) Progress checks and hurdles - and the transfer from MPhil to PhD
(17) Coming to terms with originality in research
(18) Developing skills for creative thinking
(19) Dealing with flagging
(20) Producing your thesis
(21) Preparing for the examination and conducting yourself in the oral/viva
(22) Afterwards!

First Day to Final Grade: A Graduate Student's Guide to Teaching (2000) by Anne Curzan and Lisa Damour

Chapter Overview:
(1) Becoming a teacher
(2) The first day of the term
(3) Weekly class preparation
(4) Running a discussion
(5) Problem sets and laboratories
(6) Trusty class plans
(7) One-on-one interactions with students
(8) Grading
(9) Feedback from students
(10) The balance of school and teaching

How to get a PhD: A Handbook for Students and their Supervisors - Third Edition (2000) by Estelle M. Phillips and Derek S. Pugh

Chapter Overview:
(1) Becoming a postgraduate
(2) Getting into the system
(3) The nature of the PhD qualification
(4) How not to get a PhD
(5) How to do research
(6) The form of a PhD thesis
(7) The PhD process
(8) How to manage your supervisor
(9) How to survive...
(10) The formal procedures
(11) How to supervise and examine
(12) Institutional responsibilities

Statistics For People Who (Think They) Hate Statistics (2000) by Neil J. Salkind

Chapter Overview:
(1) Statistics or sadistics? It's up to you
(2) Means to an end: Computing and understanding averages
(3) Vive la difference: Understanding variability
(4) A picture really is worth a thousand words
(5) Ice cream and crime: Computing correlation coefficients
(6) Predicting who'll win the Super Bowl: Using linear regression
(7) Hypotheticals and you: Testing your questions
(8) Are your curves normal? Probability and why it counts
(9) Significantly significant: What it means for you and me
(10) t (ea) for two: Tests between the means of different groups
(11) t (ea) for two (again): Tests between the means of related groups
(12) Two groups too many? Try analysis of variance
(13) Cousins or just good friends? Testing relationships using the correlation coefficient
(14) What to do when you're not normal: Chi-square and some other nonparametric tests
(15) Some other (important) statistical procedures you should know about
(16) A statistical software sampler
(17) The ten best internet sites for statistics stuff
(18) The ten commandments of data collection (Appendix A) SPSS in less than 30 minutes (Appendix B; C) Tables; Data sets

Graduate Research: A Guide for Students in the Sciences - Third Edition (1998) by Robert V. Smith

Chapter Overview:
(1) Getting Started
(2) Attitudes, commitments, and creativity
(3) Making choices
(4) Time management
(5) Principles of scientific research
(6) Ethics and the scientist
(7) Library and literature work
(8) Writing skills
(9) Preparing theses and dissertations
(10) Presentation and publication of papers
(11) Research with human subjects, animals, and biohazards
(12) Getting grant support
(13) Getting a job. Appendix: Guidelines for the preparation of consent forms for human subjects research

Graduate Student Success: The Canadian Guide (1995) by Manfred E. Szabo

Chapter Overview:
(1) Considering graduate studies
(2) Weighing the benefits
(3) Setting your goal
(4) Making a plan
(5) Research and thesis
(6) Choosing a university

Websites for Graduate Students

SDC's Learning Skills Counsellors regularly review websites that may be of help to grad students. For an annotated listing of some of the favourites see Graduate Student Web Resources.

Western's Society of Graduate Students

Western's Teaching Support Centre

Phinished Links

www.phinished.org/

This is a truly unique website. Not only does it offer great advice and quality links, it's interactive. Strategies for graduate school success are followed by reactions and responses from current grad students. Its primary purpose is to provide an online discussion and support group for grad students who are trying to complete their theses. Evidence it's successful? The Hall of Phame is the website's "honor roll of Phinished graduates and their degrees." As the author points out, "If they can do it, so can you."

Theses Canada

www.nlc-bnc.ca/thesescanada

Introduced in January 2004 by the National Library of Canada and the National Archives of Canada, Theses Canada is billed as the world's largest free thesis website. It provides a relatively quick and easy way of learning about research activities of recent graduate students and/or of getting a better sense of the format and expectations surrounding graduate level theses in your discipline. View more than 32,000 (and growing!) full text doctoral and master's theses online.

Funding Proposal and Thesis Guides

http://www.learnerassociates.net/

This site has multi-purposes, two of which are particularly relevant to graduate students: (1) click on the Proposal Writing Guide for "a step-by-step tutorial that provides both instructions on how to write a funding proposal and actual examples of completed proposals"; (2) click on the Dissertation/Thesis Guide for "a practical guide to assist in the crafting, implementing and defending of a graduate school thesis or dissertation." Practical and useful.

Graduate Student Resources On the Web

www-personal.umich.edu/~danhorn/graduate.html

This exceptional site provides well researched links to useful websites for graduate students. In particular, the annotated listings under Getting Through - General advice on surviving grad school and Getting Out - Completing that dissertation and getting a job offer something for everyone. A great starting place.

So long, and thanks for the Ph.D.!

www.cs.unc.edu/~azuma/hitch4.html

The subtitle of this web site - "Everything I wanted to know about C.S. graduate school at the beginning but didn't learn until later" - is somewhat misleading: it's applicability is much broader than graduate studies in computer science. Conversational in style, it offers solid no-nonsense advice interspersed with inspirational quotes from famous people such as Mark Twain and Louis Pasteur. Fun to read, the suggestions are sometimes profound in their simplicity.

The Association for the Support of Graduate Students

http://www.asgs.org

ASGS is an American based service organization for graduate students. They provide information and 'products' (i.e. you pay) to assist students with planning and completing their thesis or dissertation. Some items such as back copies of their publication (Thesis News) must be paid for, but some 'Thesis Tips' and current articles from the publication are usually posted. In addition, archived material from 'Doc Talk' is available. This is a moderated email discussion group for graduate students. 'The Best of Doc Talk' provides some interesting (and honest!) discussions related to Writer's Block, Working with Advisors, Oral examinations, and job searching. You might find some useful tips here.

Grad Resources: Serving the needs of graduate and professional students

www.gradresources.org/

This site contains a variety of resources under the headings of e-mentors, crisis line, articles, resources, and worldview. The "articles" section is perhaps the most useful to Canadian grad students - example topics include in-depth discussions of time management, and coping with academic and financial pressures. The information under "worldview" is listed as dealing with "deeper philosophical and spiritual issues"; browsers are at complete liberty to choose whether or not to view this section.

How to Be a Good Graduate Student

www.cs.indiana.edu/how.2b/how.2b.html

The information isn't new - written in 1994 - but this website is still a favourite. The abstract cautions that the intent is not to provide prescriptive advice but to raise awareness. In fact, it's full of advice. That's fine, because it's really good advice! Looking for ideas on dealing with the daily grind of graduate school, staying motivated, or thesis writing? Take a look at this website.