The illustrated guide to a Ph.D.

Every fall, I explain to a fresh batch of Ph.D. students what a Ph.D. is.

Imagine a circle that contains all of human knowledge:

By the time you finish elementary school, you know a little:

By the time you finish high school, you know a bit more:

With a bachelor’s degree, you gain a specialty:

A master’s degree deepens that specialty:

Reading research papers takes you to the edge of human knowledge:

Once you’re at the boundary, you focus:

You push at the boundary for a few years:

Until one day, the boundary gives way:

And, that dent you’ve made is called a Ph.D.:

Of course, the world looks different to you now:

So, don’t forget the bigger picture:

Keep pushing.


Research Design: Qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods approaches (強烈建議買第三版的),在我寫 proposal  的時候給我不少指引。

在這本書的第三章:Writing strategies and ethical considerations ,引用了 Maxwell (1996) 所提出的九個作研究的核心問題,我想這對初寫 proposal 的人應該很有幫助:
1. What do we need to better understand your topic?
2. What do we know little about in terms of your topic?
3. What do you propose to study?
4. What are the setting and the people that you will study?
5. What methods do you plan to use to provide data? 
6. How will you analyze the data?
7. How will you validate your findings?
8. What ethical issues will you study present?
9. What do preliminary results show about the practicability and the value of the proposed study?
一開始寫 proposal 不求多,只要花個兩到三頁的篇幅,回答上面這些問題,你就已經有一個很好的開始了。在回答這些問題與寫作的過程中,你會想得更多、更深,自然而然也就會愈寫愈多了。



  1. 是否能用一句話表達本文目的為何?
  2. 文章傳達了什麼讓人意外的資訊?結果與期望是否相互矛盾?採訪對象曾說過讓人震撼或非常有趣的事情?我們的調查是否揭露了受訪者令人意想不到的態度?
  3. 讀者對此話題所持有的假設為何?這些假設對我們所提出的主題有多少幫助?
  4. 文章結尾是否有比目前序言表達更好的內容?
  5. 讀者是否已經沒有疑惑?或者,我們是否已經確定眼前這個結論就是真正的結論?

Publish,Don’t Perish! Resources
The Postgraduate’sGuide toGetting Published
Academic Publishing forGraduate Students: a process guide
Editors’ Association of Canada: for professional editing services
SFUStudent Learning Commons: Writing ResourcesforHonours andGraduate Students
“Dissertation Success Strategies”: University ofIllinois
Statement onGraduate Student Mentoring: LouisvilleUniversity‐and‐graduate‐student‐strategies‐for‐success.html
“Time Management” by theUniversity ofGuelph Learning Commons
University of MarylandUniversity College: creating a writing plan and projectschedule‐02.shtml
“Writing and Presenting Your Thesis orDissertation” by S.Joseph Levine, Prof. Emeritus, Michigan State
TheDead Thesis Society: a Canadian grad studentsupport group
“So long, and thanksforthe PhD”: a computerscience graduate schoolsurvival guide
“Some Modest Advice forGraduate Students”: Dept. ofIntegrative Biology,Graduate StudentHandbook

Most people are not artists – Why are some people better at drawing?


By Natalie Wolchover

Since the dawn of human art-making, the divide has been clear: There are people who can effortlessly sketch an object’s likeness, and people who struggle for hours just to get the angles and proportions right (by which point the picture is scarred by eraser marks, anyway). What separates the drawers from the drawer-nots?

Ongoing research is revealing the answer to this longstanding question. It seems that realistic drawing ability hinges on three factors: how a person perceives reality, how well he or she remembers visual information from one moment to the next, and which elements of an object he or she selects to actually draw.

If you’re stuck on stick figures, the good news, according to researchers at the University College London, is that people can improve at all these mental processes with practice.

First, people who can’t draw well aren’t seeing the world as it really is. When we look at an object, our visual systems automatically misjudge such attributes as size, shape and color; research over the past three years shows at least some of these misperceptions translate into drawing errors. Paradoxically, in other circumstances the misperceptions help us make sense of the world. For example, objects appear larger when they are closer than when they are far away. Even so, the visual system practices “size constancy” by perceiving the object as being approximately one size no matter how far away it is. The visual system, “knowing” a distant object is really bigger than it appears, sends false information to the brain about what the eyeball is seeing.

People who have the most trouble judging apparent size, shape, color and brightness may also be the worst at drawing, recent research by Justin Ostrofsky and his colleagues at Brooklyn College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York suggests. Those who draw well are better able to override these visual misperceptions and perceive what their own eyeballs are really seeing. [ Red-Green & Blue-Yellow: The Stunning Colors You Can’t See ]

However, inaccurately perceiving the image is only part of the story, said Rebecca Chamberlain, a psychologist at University College London. Chamberlain and her colleagues recently conducted experiments investigating the role of visual memory in the drawing process. They believe that drawing skill results in part from an ability to remember simple relationships in an object ― such as an angle between two lines ― from the moment the angle is perceived to the moment it is drawn. Additionally, “drawing seems to involve focusing on both holistic proportional relationships as well as focus on detail isolated from the whole. Perhaps it is the ability to switch between these two modes of seeing that underpins successful drawing,” Chamberlain told Life’s Little Mysteries.

Furthermore, as detailed in December in the journal Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, Ostrofsky and his colleagues found significant evidence that skilled artists are better at selecting which elements of an object need to be included to convey the object’s form. And once the artists have selected an important element, they are better at focusing their attention on it and ignoring extraneous details nearby.

The devil is in the details, and the researchers are still working out the interplay between all the factors that affect drawing accuracy. However, they can all be learned. “There is no doubt that practice is an important component of being able to draw,” Chamberlain said. While some may be predisposed to be better at perceptual accuracy and visual memory than others, “the rest of us use tricks to emulate this.” [ 6 Fun Ways to Sharpen Your Memory ]

In research presented at a recent symposium at Columbia University and soon to be published by Columbia University Press, Chamberlain and her colleagues found practicing drawing significantly improved people’s abilities over time, as rated by other people who participated in the study.

Based on their research, the psychologists recommended the following techniques for getting better at drawing: Focus on scaling a drawing to fit the size of the paper; anchor an object in its surroundings by showing how it sits in space; focus on the distance between elements of the object and on their relative sizes; and focus on the size and shape of “negative space,” or the empty space between parts of the object. Lastly, they recommend thinking of “lines” as what they really are — boundaries between light and dark areas.

As Chris McManus, a member of the research team, noted, “There are few human skills which don’t improve with practice.”


Amazing stuff…

Short Animation by Paris Mavroidis
Music by Kaki King

Looking into the past

Book Igloo by Miler Lagos

social networking-inspired sticky notes






此文发表在《应用行为分析杂志》1974年第7卷497页上。除了标题(“一例‘写作瓶颈’的失败自疗”—The Unsuccessful Self-treatment of a Case of “Writer’s Block”),作者名(Dennis Upper), 及隶属机构(Veterans Administration Hospital, Brockton, Massachusetts)之外,一片空白。无一词一句,无一篇引用文献。大半页空白下,除了编辑加注的“于1973年10月25日收到,无修改即发 表”和例行声明及通讯作者地址外,就是此文画龙点睛的传奇评论了。

这位匿名审稿人是这么说的: “我仔仔细细地审阅了这篇论文,连柠檬汁和X 射线都用上了,也没找到实验设计或写作风格上的任何瑕疵。我建议,此文无需修改,直接发表。很明显,这绝对是我读过的最为简明扼要的论文,而它又包含了足 够的细节使得其他研究人员能够轻而易举地重复阿普尔博士的失败结果。跟你们编辑扔给我的其他那些又臭又长的论文比起来,审阅这篇论文真是美好的享受。再说 了,我们肯定能在杂志里找到发表这篇论文的地方—比如一张空白页的边缘?”



Vice President of Client Services at New England Center for Homeless Veterans
Greater Boston AreaMental Health Care

Current • Chief Program Officer at hopeFound
Past • Private Practice; Director at Woburn Outpatient Clinic
• Director of Outpatient & Community Support Services at Center for Mental Health & Retardation Services
• Director of Clinical Development at May Behavioral Health

• Executive Director of Behavioral Medicine at Neponset Valley Health System
• Director of Outpatient Services at Brookside Hospital/Northeast Psychiatric Associates
• Director of Substance Abuse Treatment at Lahey Clinic Medical Center
• Coordinator of Behavior Therapy Unit at Brockton VA Medical Center


• Case Western Reserve University
• University of Cincinnati
• Yale University

Digital life: today and tomorrow

created by NeoLabels, with a script by Inés Leopoldo of Mitsue Venture.

Digital Life: Today & Tomorrow from Neo Labels on Vimeo.


Klein bottle

无意间看到这个小老头的TED talk Clifford Stool’s talk at TED, 一个有趣的对未知痴迷的scientist,讲起来话来倍精神——活蹦乱跳的。他对science,engineering,technology的定义:

“The first time you do something it’s science, the second time it’s engineering, the third time it’s technology, it’s just being a technician. I’m a scientist: Once I do something, I want do something more.”

但曾是微软CTO的professional jack-of-all-trades的 Nathan Myhrvold却无比好玩,辞职做厨师,BBQ champion,野生动物摄影家,甚至火山研究者(挺羡慕他,不用把生命耗在一件重复的事上):

“Once I do something, I want to do something else.”

我们到底是要专一还是要协调平衡呢? 读一读Steve Pavlina的《Living congruently》,便可明白多维度的学习工作生活还是可以相互协调、相互促进、共同发展的。

话说Clifford的klein bottle,数学领域中的概念就是一种无定向性的one side的平面,没有内外之分,可以到这里围观。跟August Ferdinand Möbius (1790-1868)的莫比乌斯带(Möbius strip)有异曲同工之妙。

usage: the area of architecture has borrowed the idea of Klein bottle, you can refer to


Recommend several online apps for entertainment:

lkie isnide, like otudise

If we’ve lsot the feleing of baeuty in the wlord, tehn we aer lookign for subtituets.
Eric.Hoffer siad you can never get enuogh waht you don’t raelly wnat, taht’s to say, you are rsuhing aruond permneant needs,but the feelnig of lost id we dno’t konw what is we’ve lsot. Waht we’ve lsot id the beuaty of the wrold.
We will meka for attmeping to conqrue the wrold and own it.



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