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after the dissertation defense

S L Forsburg forsburg at nospamsalk.edu
Fri Feb 28 02:10:17 EST 1997

Vanessa L. Artman wrote:
> 1.)  How does one prepare for general exams?  I'm much more nervous about
> this situation, because the committee members can ask me, theoretically,
> about anything. 

Memorizing facts isnt the way to go here.  You want to read and
THINK.  Of course comprehensive exams vary from school to
school, but generally, you should be on top of the material they've
taught you and have kept up with reading and going to seminars. Don't
try to memorize, try to incorporate.  if you are reading and
going to seminars, you will be building on the basic material that
you need, and that's how you remember it.  Journal clubs are \
helpful in this regard.

> 2.)  How does one prepare for the outside world of reviewers after your
> dissertation defense?  It's possible that committee members are less
> critical of your science than reviewers in the outside world.  These
> reviewers could be encountered during manuscript reviews or job interviews,
> such that their criticisms could invalidate your science when everything
> seemed fine with the old committee members.  

It is a truth univerally acknowledged that outside reviewers are
almost always wrong.  ;-)  seriously, you are sounding sort of
panicky here.  Don't.  Reviewers do often have an agenda, but it can
be positive or negative.  Often the reviewing process does feel
adversarial, in contrast to the thesis defense.  That's just how it
is.  Ususally reviewer's comments are not unreasonable, even if you
disagree with them, but you can always explain your differences to the
editor, who acts as the silent referee in this situation.  Harder
is the grant review, when it is clear that the reviewer either missed
the point, or can't stand you.  I've had a totally inappropriate
grant review that was an ad hominem attack, but the best the
agency could say was, if you resubmit for the next deadline we
won't use that reviewer.  Mainly, I just try to keep my science up
to high levels, I make use of friends and colleagues to read papers
(as they make use of me), and I don't obsess about it.  If your
science could be "invalidated" by outside reviewers, you and
the committee would have known it already.  Really.

-- susan

NOTE Don't reply to email address in header!
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S L Forsburg          forsburg at salk.edu
The Salk Institute    http://flosun.salk.edu/~forsburg
La Jolla, CA

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