DIY Mentoring for Graduate Students

“Where do I go from here?” is one of the hardest, but most frequent, questions a graduate student faces during their PhD program and many of us turn to our mentors to determine the right direction. Unfortunately, as many students know either from personal experience or online reading, mentors come in a variety of competencies (and even with the best of mentors, one person can only provide one perspective). It is critical for students to learn the art of mentoring themselves. So where do we begin with DIY mentoring?

Everything is a model

: All quantitative research methods are based on models. All statistical tests, all summary statistics, all raw data, and even our ideas are models. Failing to appreciate the ubiquity of models leads to misunderstanding the epistemology of science itself. Conversely, realizing that all science is an act in model building leads to more creative and robust inquiries, and, ultimately, better inference.