When you’re working toward your PhD, or even just trying to get into graduate school, it’s easy to feel like you’re alone in your struggles. Of course, that couldn’t be farther from the truth, so we’ve collected a number of different blogs on the subject of getting a PhD to help connect you with the graduate school community.
These blogs come from a wide range of writers, and cover a ton of different areas. You can find chronicles of the search for grad school, starting from undergraduate through taking the GRE, LSAT, MCAT or whatever your test of choice, and on to the application and acceptance/rejection process. Or, if you’re already in your program of choice, there’s guides for dealing with hard (or neglectful) advisers, writing research proposals, preparing your dissertation—just about everything you might come up against in your tertiary education. And if you really want to get specific, there are blogs from people all across the academic sphere, from the hard sciences to the arts, which means that you can find someone who thinks like you and learn how their graduate experience went.
The blogs have been split onto different pages for your convenience. This page is just the general information blogs—the ones that are applicable to all disciplines. Of course, there’s useful information for everyone in each blog, but it’s nice to be able to pick out the ones directly relevant to you, so the rest have been organized into the hard sciences, the humanities, and business/law blogs. Take a look at what’s on offer, and hopefully you’ll be able to find a kindred spirit.
General PhD Blogs
This broad-minded blog covers tons of different issues in the graduate world, and nearly every subject you could possibly want get a Ph.D. in. It’s a collaborative blog, so posts come from all different corners of the academic world and a wide range of viewpoints are expressed.
Modeled after newspaper advice columns, this blog answers questions about dissertations and writing papers in general, giving advice about ways to get organized, stay focused and make sure you’re always on schedule. And the information is coming from a Stanford graduate who now works at Yale, so you know the source is good. The blog is a little out of date now, but all the old advice is still very relevant and useful, and the conversational style makes it easy to digest (unlike those academic papers you’ve been scouring).
For any mothers out there aspiring to become a Ph.D., this is the blog for you. Written by a middle-aged mother going back to school, it touches on a number of topics that will hit home, including the benefits of failing once in a while and the unique challenges women face in the academic world, especially with kids.
This blog was intended to chronicle one student’s journey to a Ph.D., but ended up following his burn-out and decision to leave academia. An interesting read for anyone who’s unsure about what kind of future they might have in the ivory tower.
A collaborative blog from a number of Ph.D. candidates at Warwick University in the UK, this resource chronicles the struggles and challenges of going through graduate school.
This slightly off-beat blog focuses on ways to improve your study and learning habits, particularly through the development of critical thinking. It’s written by Elizabeth King, a Cultural Economics degree who seriously considered grad school, decided against it and has ever since dedicated herself to helping students recognize when grad school is good for them—and when it isn’t.
This site is one of the go-to resources for information about higher education, be it college, graduate school or post-doctorate studies. It covers just about every imaginable topic, including distance learning, hiring practices, changing teaching methods, global education, rising tuition and book costs, and more. Because it works just like a newspaper website, it also features columns and statistics, and job listings for those looking to get hired in academia.
Sponsored by Stanford University, this general college information blog is a great resource for learning about higher education environments, especially if you’re interested in diversity and enrollment issues.
Another great resource for mothers working in the academic world, PhD Mom chronicles the life of a young mother and aspiring History Ph.D. as she makes her way through the particular challenges of motherhood in college. She’s just as open about sharing her failures as her successes, which makes this blog a particularly good, honest resource for Ph.D.s considering motherhood—or mothers considering Ph.D.s.
Hard Sciences PhD Blogs
Primarily a game design and computer science blog, Acagamic is written by an assistant professor of game science at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology. It focuses mainly on game theory, but occasionally branches out into other subjects, like statistics or physiological computing. It’s a great blog for those who are very interested in game theory, though it would not be a good math for less technical readers.
Sponsored by the American Mathematical Society, this is a blog dedicated primarily to the issues faced by math teachers and professors. It covers topics like when to let students leave class, how to organize a reading group and the dangers of social networking to excess. The posts are written by a number of different people, too, so there are always different perspectives to each issue that arises.
Dedicated to helping scientists improve their lab work (and their life outside of it, so nothing gets in the way), BenchFly is mostly a blog, but also features videos and helpful products.
This blog has been defunct for about a year, but the archives still contain quite a bit of helpful information. It’s part of a larger network of blogs called ScienceBlogs.com, which are all dedicated to science. Effect Measure itself is a health blog, covering a range of topics from the history of medicine to breakthroughs in the medical field.
Another ScienceBlogs site, Green Gabbro is written and managed by Maria Brum—a masters in Earth Science. It covers a wide variety of earth-related science, some with a rather snarky tone. One of the most recent tongue-in-cheek articles discussed how gay marriage can cause earthquakes, complete with charts and graphs. But it does cover real issues, too, like the discussion of what a geologist should always carry in her field vehicle, and the differences between geologists and geophysicists.
Written by a Ph.D. candidate, with the most recent entries tracing her experience with her dissertation defense, Mathemagenic is a window into the inside world of mathematics at graduate school. Lilia talks about both her life as a Ph.D. student and her outside stresses, being a wife and mother.
Women physicists are difficult to come by, but thankfully this one decided to share her experiences as a woman working in nuclear physics with the blogosphere. The actual subjects of the posts are quite varied and interesting, ranging from ways the government can save money to coverage of the Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan after the tsunami disaster.
This blog is a veritable wealth of new information in the scientific fields, especially astrophysics and microbiology. Articles appears on a regular basis, and always feature some fascinating new discovery or development. This is a great source of information for those still working within the scientific academy who don’t have time to go out and do all the research on their own.
If meteorology is your thing, definitely don’t miss this blog. Written by a Ph.D. student from the University of Oklahoma, this blog has a lot of beautiful graphical representations of weather patterns and various data mining projects. You can find lots of information about both the weather and ways to chart and graph it, which is a skill that can be applied to any scientific field.
Aimed at aspiring scientists of all stripes, this blog discusses the topics that all of the fields have in common: conferences and when to attend them, how to get your proposals accepted, patenting your discoveries, and what to do when some other lab beats you to the punch. Since there’s no specific focus—only on science in general—this blog is a great read for just about anyone who’s ever set foot in a laboratory.
This blog is a particularly good resource for any scientist operating on a shoestring budget. Its mission is to create free, open-source software for use in scientific areas, so that labs are no longer reliant on the expensive and sometimes poorly designed programs that professional companies sell. There are already several programs available for free, including ones for molecular dynamics and scanning probe microscopy.
Another ScienceBlogs site, the Scientific Activist puts a political spin on the familiar topics of your typical science blog. Nick Anthis is a biology post-doc with a keen interest in the way politics affects science, and this blog reflects both of his interests. Most recently, he’s written about the Tea Party and animal testing legislation.
Social Science & Humanities PhD Blogs
Written specifically for creative writing PhD hopefuls, this blog regularly ranks doctoral writing programs in order of popularity and which has been voted “the best.” The winners vary from year to year, but generally any school on this list is a good place to start your application process.
Written by a graduate student in film and Japanese studies, the Gradland blog is a fun and creative look at the stresses and innovations necessary for life in graduate school and afterward. Definitely worth a look if you’re considering graduate school overseas, as it also details her life while writing a dissertation in Japan.
While the focus of this blog is psychology PhD studies, it actually covers a number of different topics relating to the academy as a workplace. The most recent article discusses how to avoid making interpersonal relationship mistakes at the outset of a new job, namely by getting too close too quickly—especially for women. It’s a no-punches-pulled look at women in the academic workplace.
With a focus on world politics and human rights issues, this blog is a critical look at the topics relevant to political science PhDs, from a professor’s perspective. It’s written by William Schabas, and covers recent events like the London riots, civil unrest in Syria and international refugee law disputes.
A great resource for finding statistics on social science phenomenons—anything from editing wars on wikipedia to using Google to perform data surveys to writing code to calculate stats for you. It doesn’t update very often, but when it does, it’s usually with a completely new and interesting idea, so definitely worth paying attention to.
Written by a PhD candidate with a passion for writing and traveling, this is a great way to learn about opportunities for getting out into the world without having to leave your academic career behind. There is also a broad range of topics in this blog, so you never quite know what you’re going to stumble across next—but it’s all fascinating.
A collaborative website dedicated to encouraging academic bloggers, the History Blogging Project is a massive resource for finding bloggers from all walks of the humanities academic sphere. There’s quite a bit of discussion about the act of blogging itself, and whether it helps or hinders people who want to work in academia. Very interesting discussions—definitely worth a read.
Aleksei is actually a physics education PhD, but her interest in middle eastern dance shows through on her blog. If you’re interested in the place where science meets art, this is definitely a blog to keep an eye on.
Sponsored by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, this blog is dedicated to helping political science grad students make the most of their education, and get through the workload without wanting to kill themselves. Recent posts include resources for brushing up on math and statistics online, and how to use blogging to enhance your academic reputation.
Information Technology PhD Blogs
Kshitij Tiwari is a Postdoctoral Researcher in Robotics. In his spare time, he writes blogs aimed at helping early stage researchers ease into academia. He also writes specialized articles for those interested in robotics.