Kruschke's Virtual Mentor
This page is currently being refurbished, which means it is
actually being neglected. Most of it is old (late 1990's), but maybe it has value
for nostalgia or archeological gemologists.
See also the Psych Graduate Student FAQ page
A year in the lab can save you a day in the library.
(Paraphrased from Mike Kalish, once a postdoc in the lab.)
Search out and read carefully everything relevant to your research:
Coordinate coursework with qualifying exams and research:
- Learn how to search online literature databases.
- Google Scholar is extremely useful. Also, here is the IU Libraries
- Tip: When you've found an article that is central to your
interests, use the database to find all articles that have cited your
- Peruse new issues of journals regularly.
- Have tables of contents e-mailed to you automatically. Go to the
IU Libraries main page (link above) and type "Journal and Search Alerts" in the search box. It will show several alert services.
- Bring appropriate articles to the attention of your lab group,
for group reading and discussion.
- Select courses that coincide with your research interests and
qualifying exam topics. In my opinion, don't take courses unless they
are directly relevant to your research (or are required), but
do enroll in courses that are relevant.
- Course listing...
- Qualifying exam info:
Once you've designed an experiment, you need to implement it and
analyze the results.
- Learn to program experiments (e.g., in Python or R).
- Learn the administrative procedures for running human
participants in experiments, for both "subject pool"
participants and paid participants.
- Learn how to write and print Instructions to Experimenters using
LaTeX. [link to be updated...]
- Learn to do Bayesian data analysis!
Explanatory principles are buttressed when their formal expressions
fit the data.
- Learn to program in R.
- Learn good programming style: Explicit logical flow, clear
and profuse comments, no undefined arbitrary constants,
mnemonic variable names, etc.
- Learn about formal model fitting. In particular, learn Bayesian methods.
Writing and Presenting
Even the best research is worthless (and won't get published) if
you can't communicate it clearly.
- Learn to use LaTeX and BibTeX.
- Learn to use a good graphing program. R has good graphics.
- Learn to use a good drawing program
(for diagrams and illustrations). OpenOffice is nice for this.
- Use a spelling checker. Use a thesaurus.
- Edit and re-edit your writing mercilessly. There's almost
always a better way to say anything. (I could have said that
better, too.) Have others critique
your papers before submitting them for publication.
- Give talks (e.g., cognitive lunch, Hoosier Mental Life,
etc.), and give practice talks before giving your talks.
Keeping it together
Graduate school (and the rest of life) places a lot of demands on
your time. Never give up!
- Get a daily schedule book and use it. Carry it with
you. (I tend to avoid computerized schedule books because they
can't be carried with you.)
- Keep a regular schedule. Try not to "pull all nighters."
- It's your life. Every moment is a moment of choice.
Choose what's important.
- There's no substitute for sheer number of hours at work.
There aren't any shortcuts, but there are ways to use time as
efficiently and effectively as possible. For example, The
Student Academic Center offers courses in study skills,
including time management, reading and note-taking, library
use, etc. There are courses for credit, personal counselors,
and computer tutorials. They are located at 316 N. Jordan, and
their phone number is 855-7313.
- Physical and emotional fitness are important!
IU has resources for
physical and emotional health
physical fitness (but I guess not for emotional fitness).
Becoming a scientist and professor
Across disciplines, fewer than 50% of people who achieve a Ph.D. go
on to careers in academia. So be open to multiple possible career
You don't get into academia for the money (there isn't much,
compared to other careers that require comparable education and hours
at work). You do it because you feel it's where you are best suited to
make your personal best contribution to culture and society. Even William James thought so.
Being a scientist is like having one's own business
- Learn how to teach effectively
- Learn about and participate in administrative and service roles
- Learn about the process of getting a job: Cultivate
letters of recommendation, prepare for interviews, etc.
- Have a professional Web page. Learn html:
- Be aware of professional organizations and mailing lists:
- Tipping. (humor)
Excellence, Research, and Teaching