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Testimonials for 'Planning Your Scientific Journey'

On Course Design

I loved the way this course was planned and executed. I thought the amount of time to complete this course was very fair. I enjoyed watching the videos, the information was extremely helpful and I am working on implementing the ideas into my everyday life! As I was taking this course, it didn't really feel that I was wasting time. I usually do not like online courses, but I found myself very engaged in these lessons and really enjoyed watching the videos. Great professionals were chosen for this!

- Graduate student

I really, really enjoyed how each section and usually each page of the course began with a short video by the course instructors. Their insight was incredibly helpful, especially since there were a variety of instructors with different backgrounds, fields of expertise, and career positions. I think that the videos really helped to orient me to a certain question or idea before I applied those thoughts to my own project and situation.

- Graduate student

Great course!! Seriously this has vastly better prepared me for a career in academia than any other single course I've taken. I wish all of these research essentials were more explicitly talked about in grad school instruction. I think it could save a lot of heartache and frustration.

- Graduate student

... I really enjoyed how different assessments required me to think of the question from a number of different perspectives, such as feasibility and impact, while also requiring me to think about technically what I will need to accomplish. The assessments, forcing me to think about things coherently enough to write them down, really helped me to solidify my thoughts about and plan for my project, and truly got me excited to do the experiments and answer my questions.

- Graduate student

On the Discussion Forums

I thought that the community was a great resource. I feel like this really helped to expand my network, even, as I could pose questions and have others contribute their own ideas as I did the same for others. I particularly thought this was helpful when looking for different articles in the literature related to my project, as well as when discussing the way different people keep their "growth mindset."

- Graduate student

… I also benefitted from the discussion boards, lots of other students had useful comments and good ideas that changed my thinking about various topics. I think this course will really help me narrow down my research interests, identify potential postdoc labs, and then greatly help me plan my work as I transition to a more independent researcher.

- Graduate student

The sense of community this course fostered was really important for me. It not only provided me with important pieces of advice, it also showed me that I'm not alone in this journey and that many of my doubts and struggles are experienced by other people. This means that this issues are really not that uncommon which means having them is perfectly normal and that there are ways to raise above them.

- Undergraduate student

I thought the community between students was great. I learned a lot from the discussions, and it was exciting to see where the other students were from both geographically and in terms of their career paths and experiences.

- Graduate student

I thought that the community was a great resource. I feel like this really helped to expand my network, even, as I could pose questions and have others contribute their own ideas as I did the same for others. I particularly thought this was helpful when looking for different articles in the literature related to my project, as well as when discussing the way different people keep their "growth mindset".

- Graduate student

On Course Outcomes

The main thing that this course did for me was to force me to very actively think about my project. Especially because I haven't yet started the research but have a plan, this course really helped me to think about and evaluate my question. I really enjoyed how different assessments required me to think of the question from a number of different perspectives, such as feasibility and impact, while also requiring me to think about technically what I will need to accomplish. The assessments, forcing me to think about things coherently enough to write them down, really helped me to solidify my thoughts about and plan for my project, and truly got me excited to do the experiments and answer my questions.

- Graduate student

The idea of following a research plan, planning long and short term goals, and having a realistic timeline of when these goals can be met was extremely helping. Also learning how to come up with better scientific questions, specifically those that can be answerable and adapting experiments to solve these questions was very helpful. This course has helped me reevaluate how to go about asking good scientific question, organizing my research plan, and setting up meetings with mentor(s) frequently to get advice and seek help when needed.

- Graduate student

It has given me a sense of control over what i am getting into (I am starting grad school this fall as a PhD student). I have an idea of how to approach my research and what to be thinking about. It has reinforced my view that putting in significant time planning and thinking will pay off when it comes to executing. I feel more confident about grad school now because of this course.

- Graduate student

The course helped me evaluate what went wrong with my old project and my relationship with my old mentor, and it has given me concrete tools and systems for making sure that things are better this time around. Because of this course, I am 100% confident that my new project is a better project, I have a plan for how to complete the project, and I have the skills to bounce back and not despair when it doesn't go perfectly according to plan.

- Graduate student

I had no formula, no idea of how to go about constructing a solid research question in this way. My strategy has been to read a bunch, get a wisp of an idea, and just see what my adviser seems interested in. We don't really go through it. He is very busy and hands-off. So I get the go-ahead and wham I'm doing an experiment with only a vague idea of what it will show and what the pitfalls may be. This prepared me to take a much more rigorous approach that levies all of my technical strengths but also takes into account my interests. I think I was doing all of these things but wasn't doing them well because it was less intentional than it needed to be in order to be really effective. I feel so much more capable of running my own lab and it was something I was really not sure I could do.

- Graduate student

Instead of jumping right to "I have a thought...experiment!", I'm going to be much more deliberate and thoughtful about how I pursue a research question. In coming up with the question in the first place, I'm going to seek MUCH more feedback than I have previously and it will also be easier to do, I think, because it will be more flushed out so people have more to give constructive feedback on. I'm also going to give myself the space I need to really go through the literature and just explore. It's like I've been reading in a pressure cooker previously, where I have to read this really fast because time is running out and I need a project. Now, I know my creativity and curiosity need to have time to gently stroll through the literature in a way that is focused enough so as not to get overwhelmed, yet free enough to find what interests me most. Something will emerge from the process naturally as I gravitate toward what interests me and digest enough to see the gaps in knowledge. I've been stifling my passion and curiosity for the sake of a quick solution, which is the thing that gets you through when times get rough.

- Graduate student

This course has helped me develop a process for asking scientific questions and planning out my research goals.

- Graduate student

It completely reframed my mind on how to tackle my project! I loved it!

- Postdoc

Providing me with a structured approach to develop projects is essential for me as an new postdoc, and will be invaluable for me moving forward as a future mentor to other scientists. Appreciating how project development can go in other people's experience (as garnered from discussions by course contributors) was also valuable. Learning how to think about your goals - and understanding how to actually use my planning by continually revising, revisiting, and evaluating - appears to be a powerful tool for ensuring progress towards scientific as well as professional goals. For instance, it provides a straightforward way to decide between multiple appealing research directions. Refining my goals with the SMART criteria was one of the most valuable aspects of the course.

- Postdoc

By teaching me how to assess myself and my skills, and think more deeply about my research project. The course also exposed me to the SMART technique, which I now find indispensable as I plan my research projects and my daily life. I also learned to be more proactive, prepared and organized when it comes to asking for advice from my advisors.

- Graduate student

On IDPs

The videos definitely worked well for me. There was so much useful advice given to us. I had heard some of the things that were being said before, specifically for the IDP, but I felt that these videos really helped me understand how useful IDPs are and more effective ways to implement them. The videos opened my perspective to different ideas and how to go about becoming a better scientist and more efficient in my work.

- Graduate student

On the platform and videos

I REALLY REALLY love the entire module platform. It was easy to see my progress, to navigate to different sections, enter in answers and revisit questions (via links!). It was very clear what was expected of me and what each lesson would entail. The videos were really high quality and the speaker selection was EXCELLENT - I found all of them to be very clear and inspiring.

- Graduate student

I will definitively use all the aspects of the course. I think all the videos were really helpful, because you don't see PI or researchers talking about their research experiences on a daily basis. Listening to them and taking their advice will help me choosing a better pathway in the long run.

- Masters student

I loved this course so much. Thank you for the opportunity to learn from so many wise scientists in a fun, easy to use, yet challenging and stimulating way.

- Graduate student

The tools help provide a focus for what I should be doing and when.

- Graduate student

Prior to this I had a somewhat negative mindset regarding my scientific journey, it felt almost unsurmountable. Now I have a clearer idea of what the journey really entails, and that I don’t have to come in knowing how to do everything from the beginning.

- Graduate student

I realized I am not alone in most of the setbacks I am currently dealing with as a graduate student.

- Graduate student

I would like to spend this final thoughts section saying thank you for the organizers and the PIs/students team that contributed with the course material...I was going through major challenges with my project and the perception of myself as a scientist and I cannot stress enough how this course was important to reframe and evaluate all aspects of my career path...from things I want to improve to how to handle my project! Thank you so so so much for this wonderful experience!

- Postdoc

Thank you for putting this course together - I definitely think many students will find it helpful. I appreciate that the course content did not take up a significant portion of time and was compartmentalized into small, digestible videos. Thanks for your great work!

- Graduate student

This was a great and informative course. All of the instructors were very knowledgable and thorough and offered great advice. This class should be a requirement for all graduate students transitioning from their first year to the second year!!!

- Graduate student

I loved this course, I have learned the basic skills and mindset a researcher needs to me successful will also having clear that we need to be creative in our field of study. Persistence, creativity and passion thrive scientist to success, but hard work and being able to learn is a main key to accomplishing goals.

- Graduate student

I want to congratulate all the people involved with the development and implementation of this course because for me it was excellent!!! I'm certain that this experience has made me a better student (and future scientist) and that in the long run I'll look back to this time and be thankful of this course because it was a key element that helped me develop a really important aspect of my formation that is not explicitly discussed during graduate education. Thank you very much for providing me with this educational experience!!!

- Undergraduate student

Thanks so much for allowing me to be part of this testing experience for this course! I had a blast doing it, and will absolutely and 150% recommend it to my peers, PI, and whoever else is interested in hearing me talk about being proactive about one's own grad school training :)

- Graduate student

From Mentors

This have given me better ideas of how to train students and be an advocate for them.

- Postdoc

I wish I had this course as a beginning graduate student. I will definitely use all concepts in training my students in the future.

- Postdoc

As a postdoc transitioning to faculty I learned many principles that I will use to train my students. All videos were extremely helpful in approaching scientific training in an organized manner.

- Postdoc