If you're not sure where to look for something, try starting at AstroBetter ("Tips and Tricks for Professional Astronomers"), or at Jonathan Sick's Awesome Astronomy list of resources for professional astronomers.
Advice for Success in Grad School
Back in the 1990s, Marie desJardins wrote a short guide that described
"How to be a good graduate student," that everyone seemed to be
passing around via grainy photocopies. Over the years, this guide
has been expanded and updated, and is now published as
"How to succeed in graduate school."
Find it at its
home online, or see
local PDF copy.
Stellar astrophysicist Jeff Linsky wrote up some
Advice for Beginning Graduate Students in Astrophysics
for a book on Organizations, People, and Strategies in Astronomy.
There's a free e-book online titled
Managing Scientific Research: A Guide for the Beginning Researcher,
by Brian Kennett. I haven't read it yet, but it appears to "do what
it says on the tin."
is an excellent blog post on how to come up with ideas for future
research projects. The examples from the author are from the
field of ecology, but the top-level principles are much more
- On the other side of the desk, here's a very nice article by Penn State's Jason Wright on how to be a good graduate adviser. If I'm not living up to any of these precepts, please give me a good talking to!
Giving Good Scientific Talks
The links below take you to some informative articles that condense some useful "tricks of the trade" for giving effective presentations. I've tried to stick to suggestions by people in the physical sciences (mainly physicists and astronomers, but there's one by a chemist and one by a computer scientist) rather than more general "public speaking" guides from other fields of academia or business (which have different traditions and norms).
Ten Secrets to Giving a Good Scientific Talk,
by Mark Schoeberl and Brian Toon, from the AGU's
Atmospheric Science Division.
Suggestions for Giving Talks,
notes by Robert Geroch from 1973 that are still valid today.
How Not to Give a Scientific Talk,
by Michael De Robertis (with hints from an article by
by James C. Garland, Physics Today (July 1991), 44, p. 42;
that article is also available as a PDF file
Non-Talk on Giving Talks, by Lucianne Walkowicz.
Contains some great, albeit sometimes irreverent, advice that
covers everything from empathizing with your audience to using
the right fonts and slide transitions.
"The Art of Scientific Presentations," by Allard Jan van Marle.
A collection of cool advice from a hot-star astronomer on composing slides,
delivering the spoken talk, synching with the technical aspects,
and dealing with hostile questioners.
(As far as I know, this isn't available from the author any more.
A local copy of the Google cache for this web page is
Oral Presentation Advice, by Mark Hill, Computer Sciences Dept.,
University of Wisconsin-Madison.
A Seminar on Seminars, by Kenneth Suslick, a humorous
presentation on what to do and what not to do.
- Some interesting tips from Will Ratcliff on giving a presentation in the form of an engaging story (i.e., "David Attenborough style").
Astonomer Lynn Hillenbrand teaches a course titled
in Astronomy, whose web page contains many links to helpful
resources (scroll down in the above link).
Each journal has its own "author instructions" for preparing papers.
The one for the Astrophysical Journal is close to being a
community standard for astronomers; find it
The AIP also has a good online Author Resource Center
- Other possibly useful articles on The Science of Scientific Writing (from American Scientist) and English Communication for Scientists (from Nature) and The Art of Writing Science (from Protein Science).
- Although this AstroBetter page is focused on "getting the most out of AAS meetings," I think lots of the advice therein is helpful for other conferences, too.
- Would you like a 143-page "Beginner's Guide to Working with Astronomical Data?" THIS was written by Markus Pössel to get you started with image processing, spectroscopy, and modern astronomical catalogs.
What follows is an extremely incomplete list of links and information. I hope to continuously augment and update it...
Research Fellowship Program (GRFP):
Application deadline usually in late October;
awards announced in early April.
Reference letters due early November.
Eligibility: can apply only once, either in 1st or 2nd year of grad school.
Must be US citizen/national, or permanent resident.
of NASA opportunities, including:
- NASA Earth & Space Science Fellowship (NESSF) Program: Application deadline usually early February. Eligibility: foreign students enrolled at US institutions are allowed to apply, but US citizens & permanent residents are given preference when all else is equal.
- NASA Graduate Student Researchers Program (GSRP): Old link?
- National Defense Science & Engineering Graduate (NDSEG) Fellowship: DoD opportunity for three-year support. Application deadline usually in early December. Eligibility: US citizens/nationals only. Connecting research to topics of national importance (e.g., space weather) is probably a priority. Apply in senior undergrad year, or have completed no more than 2 years of full-time graduate study.
The Job Search
Bryan Gaensler and Sarah Maddison wrote up some detailed
on getting an academic job.
A whole lot of great
on non-academic careers from the AAS.
See also some statistical results from a survey of
fields for new physics PhDs.
See also Joshua Pepper's
page on navigating the faculty job search.
- Some fascinating thoughts from the business world about the importance of interpersonal skills that are just as important (or more?) as the more specific research & education skills we tend to talk about more.