5 Books to Read While You PhD/EdD

| December 17, 2016

The Craft of Research by Wayne Booth, Greg Colomb and Joseph Williams. “Although it seems to be written for undergraduates, PhD students like it for its straight forward, unfussy style. Just about every aspect of research is covered: from considering your audience to planning and writing a paper (or thesis). The section on asking research questions is an excellent walk through of epistemology: an area many people find conceptually difficult. I find it speaks to both science and non science people, but, like all books I have encountered in the ‘self help’ PhD genre, The Craft of Research does have a bias towards ‘traditional’ forms of research practice. You creative researcher types might like to buy it anyway, if only to help you know what you are departing from.”

Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott. “Lamott’s work has been cited in many of the books on this and my previous list (and not just the writing books). Her advice on writing, and the often-quoted concept of a “shitty first draft”, is helpful to any graduate student struggling to write. She also has chapters on perfectionism, writer’s block, and writing groups, making this a simple and helpful read for grad students.”

Writing Science: How to Write Papers That Get Cited and Proposals That Get Funded by Joshua Schimel. “I am a sucker for academic writing advice, and this book provides some of the best. Dr. Schimel provides advice on how to structure the story of  your experiment, how to write effectively for different audiences/purposes (e.g. manuscript versus grants), all the way down to how to write paragraphs and choose words. He also provides many exercises for students to work through, making this a great book for structuring a science writing class. I’m convinced that the most recent paper I submitted came back accepted with very minor revisions not just because the topic of the manuscript was very current and experiment well executed, but also because I communicated it so clearly using Dr. Schimel’s techniques.”

The Unwritten Rules of PhD Research by Marian Petre and Gordon Rugg. “I love this book because it recognises the social complexities of doing a PhD, without ever becoming maudlin. Indeed it’s genuinely funny in parts, which makes it a pleasure to read. The authors are at their best when explaining how academia works, such as the concept of ‘sharks in the water’ (the feeding frenzy sometimes witnessed in presentations when students make a mistake and are jumped on by senior academics) and the typology of supervisors. It’s also one of the better references I have found on writing conference papers.”

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King. “I read this book based on excerpts in “Demystifying the Dissertation”, not so much to learn how to be a novelist, but for the sake of insight and interest. Half autobiography and half lessons on the craft, King provides a basic foundation for those on the path to becoming novelists. He stresses the importance of reading widely, creating dedicated writing space, and the revision/editing process, all things that apply to grad student life as well.”

 

Sources: https://www.insidehighered.com/blogs/gradhacker/5-great-reads-grad-students
https://www.insidehighered.com/blogs/gradhacker/5-more-books-all-grad-students-should-read
5 books to help you with your PhD