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The Ph.D. Grind: A Ph.D. Student Memoir

4.24  ·  Rating details ·  643 ratings  ·  108 reviews
A Ph.D. Student Memoir

"This book (download PDF) chronicles my six years of working towards a Ph.D. in Computer Science at Stanford University from 2006 to 2012. "
ebook, Third Anniversary Reprint, 115 pages
Published May 28th 2015 by Philip J. Guo (first published July 16th 2012)
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Average rating 4.24  · 
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 ·  643 ratings  ·  108 reviews

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Feb 11, 2020 rated it it was ok
Question: Is your book meant as a critique of academia or a call for reform?
Absolutely not. I don't have any agenda besides telling my own story as honestly as possible.
most Ph.D. students are directly training for a job that they will never get. (Imagine how disconcerting it would be if medical or law school graduates couldn’t get jobs as doctors or lawyers, respectively.)

Strange one. It's 100 pages of minor mental breakdowns, ten thousand hours of mind-numbing gruntwork, stupid status
Jan 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Extremely well-written. More importantly, it resonates with my own experiences (though only a short eight-month attachment in Canada), where I felt the frustrations and mental breakdowns similar to those described in the article. Most crucially, the human voice in this article is extremely strong that I can literally hear the thoughts. Would recommend anyone reading --- whether you are pursuing academic route or not.

I started to have a grasp, partly thanks to a short chat with a friend, that per
Hamish Seamus
What I find really interesting about this is that regardless of how much of a success or failure you look from the outside, from the inside it tends to feel much the same. My experiences as a thoroughly mediocre masters student have had essentially the same ups, downs, insecurities, and learning experiences as an elite PhD student.

Really good for learning the tips and tricks for navigating the non-ideal parts of academia.

I found this line funny because it reminds me of recursive self-improvement
Ashish Lavania
Jun 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
It gives an insider's perspective to prestigious US PhD programs in CS but could have been shorter (Too much self-love?) ...more
Kartik Singhal
Aug 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Kartik by: Deepak Malani
Shelves: grad
Gives some solid description of what doing a PhD is like (from at least one student's experience and perspective).

Points that resonated with me:
- Combining one's research project to practical needs but not end up maintaining it forever (which can hinder generation of new research)
- How many students drop out and that almost all the PhDs I meet are probably the exceptions (of course, because they went through the grind and chose to not give up).
- It can be full of rejections and one needs to deve
Jan 18, 2013 rated it really liked it
I really like this book. I'm surprised that I can find it here, in Goodreads. I read The Ph.D. Memoir somewhen between June and July, 2012, during my critical time of writing a master thesis. It helped me a lot.

I got an interview recently for a Ph.D position, and I was asked many unexpected questions about how I think about working as a Ph.D, supervisors, teamworks, time management, and so on. It's hard to answer questions about experience that I haven't suffered. Well, thank to the book.

If you
Jul 23, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In this book, the author has included all his beautiful experiences and lesson he had learned from his Ph.D. days. It motivates you to work hard towards your goal and teaches you to never give up.
يوسف صامت بوحايك
Mar 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
It was a very useful book for me, that gave me a deeper perspective on the PhD students' life and struggle, explaining the different steps and challenges he has encountered through his 6 years PhD experience. ...more
Daria Dzendzik
Jan 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
Highly recommend for all who is thinking about doing a PhD in computer science or has been started already.
It’s motivating. It’s realistic. It’s well written.
And all of it is true.
Indeed might be also useful for understanding such people. If your girlfriend/boyfriend/wife/husband/partner is doing a PhD - this book might help you to understand they better.
Michael Scott
The Ph.D. Grind A Ph.D. Student Memoir is both a memoir and an analysis, by Philip Guo, of his years spent as a Ph.D. student at Stanford. Overall, I found the intention of the book laudable and the memoir useful, but the analysis biased and incredibly bad. In short, I think Philip, who struggled often during his Ph.D. despite being obviously smart, identified many important problems but mis-analyzed most of them.

First, a message to Philip: I think you have done a big service to the research com
Jun 11, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found the book very interesting. Although the Ph.D story is different from one student to another and from one field to another, I think Philip captured the main theme for what it takes to get the Ph.D. I think it is a good book and experience to read which gives a closer look and insight on the world of academia and research.
I truely felt a lot of the points he talked about. Also, I got many good advice to consider in the future.
Ananya Flothen
Aug 16, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
While going through the frustrations of a grad student this book motivated me a lot. This one is about the journey of a Ph.D. student in Computer Science, I am neither a Ph.D. student nor in computer science background still it overall gives a detailed description of a graduate student with all the challenges during the process and outcomes once you graduate!
Jul 20, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Like the author said, this does not apply across all fields of PhD study but there are lessons one can glean from the experience of the author that applies across board.

Very nice memoir.
May 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Illuminating and surprisingly entertaining
Sanduni Premaratne
Jul 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Ph.D. students, researchers
A worthy read.
Mengke Zhan
Jan 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I wish I could have read it earlier.

I marked this book as want to read on another reading app some 400 days ago - around the time I stepped into the grad school. Back then, I still had a very simplistic view of research and what it takes. So I thought having passion on the subject was the most important factor in doing research. But my passion didn’t carry me far enough. I was rejected 4 times in my various scholarships application to a Ph.D offer at Imperial. The closest I have come to is a wai
Hồ Vinh
Feb 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019
I read this book when my PhD journey came to an end. It definitely provides me great insights when I look back what I have been through. Totally recommended for people intending to pursue a PhD degree, also who is on the way to obtain it.
Sep 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I don't think I've ever read a book more made for me. I am computer science undergraduate student, with a passion for research. After graduation I plan to contribute to the field that lies in the intersection between computer science and psychology. But there's one problem. I have no idea what graduate school is like.

Enter "The PhD Grind," a chronicle of Phillip J. Guo's six years as a computer science PhD student at Stanford University. At only around 100 pages, Phillip (now Dr. Guo) doesn't wa
Ha Vu
Nov 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ah haa finished this 115-page book about Dr. Philip Guo's Ph.D. journey on a super busy but procrastinating sunny Sunday.
The memoir was written as Dr. Guo reflected on his 6-year experience as a CS Ph.D. student in Stanford. As I read the book, his years were filled with SO MANY ups and downs yet he kept on pushing pushing working working and he succeeded! At the end of the book, he described his experience as "funny at times but fulfilling".
This book is short but is so REAL. Anyone who is a Ph.
Oct 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
Guo lucidly talks about his experience as a PhD student at Stanford in this short memoir. I found that a lot of it reflected my wife's experience as a PhD student (biotech), and I think the insights are far more widely applicable than what the author would admit in his humility. I would also couple this book with Cal Newport's books on research productivity (Deep Work, So Good they can't ignore you).

But I wonder how he ended up as a faculty at UCSD after he decides to leave academia at the end
Alex Poovathingal
Jul 19, 2012 rated it liked it
It's neither inspiring, nor discouraging. It's just a summary of the author's life as a PhD scholar. It was interesting to know what actually happens behind the scenes of this penultimate stage of an academic career. Apparently it's not about free food and free travels to different different places to attend conferences. There is a large chunk of boring stuff involved.(Sorry for the spoiler :P) ...more
Mahmoud Ismail
Feb 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Excellent read! A must for all those interested in pursuing a PhD degree in the US.
Dec 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing
If you are in grad school, you should read this book. Though the grad life experience might differ from person to person, some of the stuffs you can relate to yourself for sure.!!!
Sep 08, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Read it in a single night through multiple sittings; me being at the cross road of my transition from an undergraduate to a (prospective?) graduate student.

Quick paced, descriptive yet not boring. It provided an alternative reality check to my self conceived notions of grad life. Would call it an honest attempt to make you aware of the rather not-so-straightforward journey a PhD might turn out be. Nevertheless it does highlight the untold joys, satisfactions and (soft-skill based) learnings of t
May 12, 2020 rated it liked it
(Short disclaimer: I am not nor have ever been a graduate student, but worked extensively around a wide range of STEM Ph.D. students (over 100 total) at a top 20 in engineering U.S. university for three years).

The book is short (took me about two hours to read) and discusses Guo's experiences as a Ph.D. student in computer science at one of the U.S.' most prestigious universities. Each of his six years has one chapter devoted to it: projects worked on, individuals met, mindset (happy, burnt out,
Siddhant Shrivastava
The writer knows his stuff, and has done a great job at avoiding selective hindsight by documenting one of the most intensely personal experiences of an academic's life - the PhD program. I recommend this as a must-read for everyone; not just for those in academia.

Philip's choice of ensuring open access for this book, style of writing, recollection of events, use of footnotes that seems inspired from CS books (like 'Concrete Mathematics'), and typesetting in LaTeX makes 'The PhD Grind' one of th
Aug 29, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Amy Lyden
Jul 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
This short memoir was candid and engaging. As an incoming PhD student, I found it valuable to hear about the specific challenges he faced at every year of his PhD. His advice resonated with advice I've received from other ongoing or graduated PhD students I have talked to, in particular: paying your dues, pay attention to the interests of your PI, a younger professor might have his incentives more aligned with yours (ie, publishing), independent funding helps a lot, and the importance of taking ...more
Aaron Gertler
Jun 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
Dry and repetitive despite its brevity. Not a "good read," in most senses of the term. But I also found it raw and true, as though I were having a long conversation with a friend (and I *have* had similar long conversations with some of my friends in postgraduate programs).

This is the kind of document that isn't produced often, because doing so requires detailed reporting on very tedious experiences. In my view, this leads society to underrate tedium as an element of human experience. I'm glad
ZhongXuan Liu
Feb 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A great book for pre-Ph.D. students. I really benefit a lot from this book. No one has ever told me about the Ph.D. experience, so thanks Philip J. Guo for showing me this world. He struggled years even he was excellent as a Stanford Ph.D. student. Hard to imagine what others will experience and what will await me to challenge..."It requires intense focus, rigorous discipline, keen attention to detail, high pain tolerance, and an obsessive desire to produce great work." I think it is also true f ...more
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