Happy President's Day!
If you are among the lucky ones who get this holiday off (did someone just say "holiday", what's that?), then I hope you are reading this blog after a relaxing three-day weekend. For the rest of us, it is perhaps an opportunity to get some work done, especially if it is more quiet in the office than usual. I remember looking forward to holidays as a graduate student, not necessarily because I would get a break, but because I viewed them as time to catch up. No classes, meetings or seminars. Wow, what a great time to prepare PowerPoint slides for my upcoming presentation! Yet, on holidays I frequently did not accomplish as much as I had hoped. Although not everyone was away, those quiet days were also lonely. It is tough to be motivated and creative in a vacuum. (Okay, I know that for those of you who are working and studying, not to mention possibly parenting, silence is the ideal vacation, but bear with me.)
While a few hours of uninterrupted work can do wonders for your experiment, manuscript, or thesis, it is tough to concentrate all day without some type of human interaction during your breaks. Internet chatting has received some bad rep, because it replaces the personal touch of face-to-face communication, but online forums can give you the much needed social interaction when no one else is around. Of course, I am not suggesting that you use precious time for online chatting. That's called procrastination. Instead, think of online forums as additional resources to reach out to someone who is or has gone through the same journey as you. Your primary resources should still include your supervisor, group members, and other professors in the department. On days when you just need to blow some steam off or post an anonymous question, however, an online forum could be the right place. (By the way, for anonymous questions that are related to ethics or your university's policy, I highly recommend talking with your school's Ombudsman, a neutral mediator who is obligated to keep your conversation confidential.)
Besides Gradshare, there are several other online forums for graduate students:
For those of you on Facebook, visit PhDNet's group by visiting:
Wishing you the best,
Dora Farkas, PhD, Founder, PhDNet