Here are some collected links to various "tips and tricks for success" (mostly for students, but possibly useful for old dogs, too).


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 official home online, or see this local PDF copy.

  • Stellar astrophysicist Jeff Linsky wrote up some Unexpected 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 Planning and 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."

  • HERE 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 broadly applicable.

  • 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 here).

  • A 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 here. )

  • 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").

Scientific Writing


  • 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.

Data Analysis

  • 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.

Funding Sources

What follows is an extremely incomplete list of links and information. I hope to continuously augment and update it...

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