Letters from Grad School: collecting graduate school experiences

Here at FoR, we’re continuously making calls for more data about junior scientists. There’s often a focus on quantitative data, but it’s just as important to get qualitative information; anecdotes; experiences. Below we are sharing a call for your graduate school experiences for the Letters from Graduate School project, which also has a page on their website with personal stories and resources.
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Call for submissions:

For every graduate student, graduate school is a different experience filled with ups, downs, failures, and successes. The goal of Letters from Graduate School is to build a collective of graduate school experiences from graduate students in the biomedical/biology PhD programs–your experience, in your own voice!

We are looking for graduate students who are interested in writing about their stories and experiences in graduate school–the good and the bad. We are creating a platform for sharing these stories to highlight the diversity of graduate school experiences. These stories will be shared through our web platform, and a selected set of entries will be compiled into a book.

We encourage your entry to be focused on a single topic that was formative in your graduate school experience. We have a few sample topics listed below, but don’t feel limited to our suggestions; we want to include as many unique perspectives as possible.

If you are interested in writing for us, please fill out the short form on our website lettersfromgradschool.org – and we will get back to you. All essays will be edited in collaboration with the author before publication. We will respect authors who wish to share their story anonymously.

For any questions, email us at editors@lettersfromgradschool.org

Looking forward to hearing from you,

 Kayla Lee

 Chiara Ricci-Tam

 Yarden Katz

The example topics below are divided into four sections, corresponding to graduate school stages: “Early years”, “The grind”, “Final stretch” and “Post-PhD”. Submissions should be under 2,000 words.

Early years

  • Why go to graduate school?

  • How to choose a lab?

  • Making friends in graduate school

  • Managing graduate school with a family

  • Rotations: getting the most out of them

The grind (mid-graduate school)

  • Intra-lab conflicts

  • On paper writing and publishing

  • Scooping: the threats, reality and recovery

  • Finance and graduate school

  • Depression and anxiety in graduate school

  • Switching labs

  • Deciding to quit graduate school

  • Being a minority in science

  • Sexism, racism, and classism in science

Final stretch (writing thesis)

  • Writing the thesis

  • Leaving things behind

  • Keeping in touch

Post-PhD (transitioning out of graduate school, finding next step)

  • Asking (and writing) your letters of recommendation

  • Finding a postdoc

  • Finding alternative (non-academic) paths

  • Learning from the graduate school experience

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