Last week I had a scheduled meeting with my program director. It was a routine checkup, just to see how I am doing, have I picked a lab? How do I like the lab and what do I see my future looking like? Towards the end of that meeting, we started talking about my research topic. She started asking me question that made me ask myself as she was talking, are these things I am supposed to know now? or three years from now?
She recommended I start writing early. She is not the first person to tell me this. Writing a final dissertation or even a grant proposal takes an enormous amount of time and effort. Starting early is never a bad idea. Daily, I read between 3-6 papers, some related to my research topic, while others are more general. Summarizing each piece into a short paragraph could lead to an accumulation of material that you may later use to write the introduction/literature review section of your final paper, or the introduction/literature review section of poster or grant proposal. I once watched a former co-worker of mine freak out for an entire month about how stressed she as about her final paper and presentation. Her paper was due in a matter of week and her defense was schedule for around the same time. A week prior to both of those deadlines, she wrote her paper and prepared her presentation. I was wanted to ask her, why were you freaking out again? You clearly had more than enough time. Not too many people can do this. I know I can’t. I learned early that I am the kind of student who need time, a lot of time before I can turn any assignment in. If that is you, always remember to start early.