Some Helpful Tips for Graduate Students from Former Graduate Students

by Heather Angka and Ben Lindsey (former MSc students in the Department)

General Guidelines for Committee Meeting

Once your committee has been selected it is a good idea to go and talk to each member on an individual basis to find out what they expect of you and/or how they like to see research projects progress. If nothing else comes from this you will at least have had the chance to learn a bit about their personality before your first meeting. Also, it would be a good idea to establish, at this time, how often your committee members expect to communicate with you during the progression of your project.

  • The student is generally responsible for organizing (creating an agenda) and planning the meetings (e.g., arranging the date and booking the room and any A/V equipment required).
  • On average, graduate students hold 1-2 committee meeting per year.
  • A brief summary document should be sent out a few days prior to your meeting (likely containing figures and tables of results or expected results, approximately 1 to 4 pages long).
  • Meetings are generally started with a presentation from the student regarding the progress of results to date (15 to 20 minutes long).
  • The goal of the presentation is to show the logical progression from the last meeting starting with a review of previous meetings followed by latest results (tips: start with a reminder of what was said in previous meeting(s); don’t assume your committee members will remember; be sure to clearly state your results).
  • It is highly recommended that you practice your presentation (in particular, have a dry run with your supervisor and labmates) before your meeting.
  • Committee meeting form is to be completed by the Chair, and signed by all members, retain a copy for own records and provide a copy to all members.

Doing Research

  • Don’t allow too much time to pass before seeking feedback
  • Manage your time carefully (be sure to have and continuously revise a timeline)
  • Make an attempt to balance all components of your research and responsibilities equaly [in other words, don’t focus on only one task at a time for an extended period (e.g., literature searches, project design, pilot studies, data collection, data analysis, writing papers and thesis, TA assignments)]
  • The most important piece of advice (that is often hard to follow) is to start writing your thesis sooner rather than later
  • Where to seek help when it’s needed:
    • Supervisor
    • Labmates/departmental graduate students and post docs
    • Committee members

Graduate Student Departmental Seminars

Start preparing approximately one month in advance; practice in front of audience prior to the date of your talk; anticipate questions that could be asked; presentation should be approximately 30 minutes.

  • Purpose of Graduate Student Seminar (audience, progress to date)
  • Other details relevant to the student?
  • Who to speak with regarding questions for the format of seminar?

Teaching Assistantships

Note: this is a requirement of your program; you will not receive additional monies

  • Generally a 40 hour assignment
  • First TA assignment takes place in Fall or Winter semester of ndyear
  • Organized by Graduate Student Coordinator
  • List of courses commonly requiring TAs

Thesis Completion and Submission

  • Consider attending available thesis workshops
  • Be sure to get proper copyright permission if using previously published work
  • Discuss a timeline for writing and editing your written thesis with your supervisor
  • Refer to Faculty of Graduate Studies guidelines for thesis formatting

Seeking Academic Advice (in hierarchical order)

  1. Supervisor
  2. Other professors with whom you feel comfortable
  3. Student Advisor 
  4. Graduate Coordinator