When I started this series of posts about my PhD I claimed that I would try to follow almost a chronological line. I’ve imagined that I would need to come back once in a while to talk about some other important things that happened in parallel. And, I have to say, a PhD process is like that. It is not a linear thing that you have a plan from the beginning and you do it accordingly. There are several detours, cycles, re-routing, and so on. Anyway, I don’t want to say something strictly regarding my PhD in this post but something I learned in the first months.
In the beginning of our PhD program in the Faculty of Computer Science of Unibz, we do a small course called “Research methods.” I have to say that when I first read this course’s title, I imagined a course about empirical methods such as surveys and experiments. But, in reality, it was more about researching life in general. We learned about bibliometrics (we’re introduced to our friend H-index); reading, writing, reviewing, and presenting papers, and so on.
In general, I found the course really useful. But, I would say that the advice that I liked the most was about writing given by Prof. Sven Helmer. Writing is essential for a researcher but it is often hard to do. Or, better, hard to start. His advice was: start! Then, you improve your text but it is important to start somewhere. Even with a silly draft. And this advice I took for life. Several times I feel stuck, blocked, specially when starting to write something new. Then, I remember this advice and start writing. Often not the beginning but something in the middle of the text. The message here is to start.