读博驱动力的五个阶段:过山车曲线

读博时的驱动力并非一成不变,它也经历了类似于创业者们都体验过的阶段。蒂姆·费里斯(Tim Ferriss)在他的博客中提到这些阶段:(充分)利用创业时的狂躁抑郁症:让过山车(曲线)服务于你。蒂姆·费里斯为创业者们提供了有用的建议,而这些建议同样适用于研究与读博历程。

第一阶段:不知情时的乐观

当你开始读博,一切都是新鲜的,你觉得你的研究项目很酷。那种感觉就像是你将要去解决一个大问题,如果你还有抱负并且表现良好,说不定还能获得很大的回报,也许是一个专利,或者一篇被刊登在颇具影响力的杂志上的论文。是不是听上去很耳熟?(其实,)它类似于(你)刚开始接触一份新的工作,所有人都对你比以前(的同事对你)好,以及一切顺利。好吧,再过几个月(让激情再飞一会),你将意识到这并不是(想象中的)那么振奋人心。

第二阶段:知情后的悲观

你已经在你的研究项目上耕耘有一段时日,也更理解这个领域了,但不幸的是,你依然迷惘。你(似乎)无法在不远的将来看到任何好的成果,并开始疑惑这个研究项目对你而言是不是太大。如果你的博士研究不是延续于前人的工作,比如你更换了研究领域,这个阶段的(悲观)体验将更强烈。

第三阶段:信念危机(读博意义的危机)

你正处于读博历程的中段,却有着如四十岁男人一般的(中年)危机感:你既然没钱给自己买辆保时捷(Porsche),就只能躲在一个角落默默地垂泪。你在想:“结束了吗?我是个失败者?!” 研究项目也不再是你想象中的那么秀色可餐(pinkful),事实上,你不得不为完成一部分很难称得上优雅的研究工作而奋斗。你觉得已经浪费了大量的时间,而且做了很多毫无意义的小事。(但是,)虽然这些小事现在看起来毫无用处,但你永远不知道,也许就在未来的某个时刻,你为它们串起了线索(connect the dots),它们便有可能成为某项伟大事业的出发点。

第四阶段:崩溃与浴火重生(可选)

如果你在第三阶段没有快步地走出那些阴霾的负面感觉,你将面临崩溃。消极的情绪可能掌控了一切,使你染上一场迷你抑郁症。在这个阶段,很多人认为他们已经浪费了太多的时间以致于决定放弃。他们携一份未竟的读博事业黯然离去。无论如何,我们想避免这样的情形。

第五阶段:知情后的乐观

慢慢地,你开始意识到你的博士论文将不会像你想象中的让人击节称赞或叹为观止(awesome)。不管了(Whatever)。至少你会有几篇刊文,足够毕业。也许,《自然(Nature)》(就算想要你的文章也)不得不等你读上了博士后。但有谁会关心(Who cares)。你最好(至少)能读出个半吊子的博士来,这比什么都强。(当前,)你正紧挨着研究领域的前沿,可以为先进的科技文化做出(或多或少的)贡献。于愿足矣。这就足够了,你并不需要成就完美。

这条(过山车)曲线也吻合这几年收集的读博数据。它意味着每个人都经历着某种程度的(读博)价值预期的偏离。(因人而异,)某些阶段会缓和些,某些阶段可能很剧烈。在任何阶段,请不要因过度的乐观或悲观而失去常态(不以物喜,不以己悲)。沉静若水,我的朋友(Stay cool, be water my friend)。

 

英文原文如下:

Transition Curve
The motivation during your PhD is not constant, and it resembles the phases that entrepreneurs experience and that Tim Ferriss describes in his post Harnessing Entrepreneurial Manic Depression: Making The Rollercoaster Work for You. Tim provides great advice for entrepreneurs, but this can easily be adapted to research and PhD life.

Phase 1: Uninformed optimism

You start your PhD, everything is new and you find your project really cool. It feels like you are going to solve a big problem and you might get a big prize if you are ambitious and work well, maybe a patent, maybe a paper in a high impact journal. Sounds familiar? It is a similar feeling to starting in a new job, everybody is nicer than in the previous job and it is by far better organized. Well, give it some months, you’ll realize it is not that great.

Phase 2: Informed Pessimism

You have been working for some time on your project, you understand the field better, but unfortunately you are still lost. You don’t see any good results in the near future and you start to realize that this project might be a bit too big for you. This phase is more severe if the content of your PhD is not a continuation from a previous work, if you switched fields.

Phase 3: Crisis of Meaning

You are more or less in the middle of your PhD and you have a crisis like 40 year old guys have. Since you don’t have money to buy you a Porsche, you just cry in silence in a corner. You think “Is this all? Am I a failure?” The project is not as pinkful as you dreamt it, in fact, you are going to struggle and work your ass off to finish a minimally decent body of work. You feel that you have wasted a lot of time, that you did a lot of useless little projects. Now they seem useless, but you never know, maybe sometime later you connect the dots and they were the starting points of something great.

Phase 4: Crash and Burn (optional)

While at Phase 3, if you don’t step aside fast from your negative feelings you are going to be screwed. Negativity might take over, leading you a mini depression. At this stage, many people think they have been wasting their time and they give up. They walk away with an unfinished PhD. Needless to say, we want to avoid this.

Phase 5: Informed Optimism

Slowly you start to realize that your PhD thesis is not going to be as awesome as you thought. Whatever. At least you’ll get some publications, enough to graduate. Maybe the Nature paper has to wait for your post-doc. Who cares. You’d better finish a half-ass Phd than nothing. You are getting the grip of your field, you can contribute (something) to the state of the art. It should be enough. Good enough, you don’t need perfect.

This curve is fitted to PhD data collected during many years. This means everybody will experience a certain deviation from the values here predicted. Some phases will be mild while others can be extreme. At any stage, don’t be carried away by over-optimism/pessimism. Stay cool, be water my friend.

Interested in becoming a Scientist 2.0? Then visit my blog: http://juliopeironcely.com/

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s