Library Notes for Political Science

Teaching resources, news, and links to keep McGill’s Political Scientists informed

ProfHacker’s tips for new grad students

Posted by Megan on August 28, 2010

Last week, the ProfHacker blog from the Chronicle of Higher Education posted a set of tips for incoming graduate students.

I just couldn’t help but highlight two of the pieces of advice:

“Build a personal research library”

The advice here is to keep track of research-related reading from the very beginning. Tools like EndNote and Zotero are recommended to stay organized and save considerable time later.

And even dearer to my heart:

“Meet your subject librarian”

“Meet your subject librarian. In your first few weeks on campus, you might not want to add one more person to your list of people to meet. But getting to know your subject librarian can be invaluable. Your librarian will be the person who best knows the university’s entire collection of databases, journals, and books in your field; consequently she or he will be able to help you find the things you didn’t even know were there but are necessary for your scholarship. Plus, the subject librarian is the person who controls library acquisitions in your field. Get to know ‘em and they will likely buy the books you need. (My subject librarian easily bought me 30 books.) Your subject librarian can also teach you how to most effectively use your library’s catalog. As easy as that might sound—how hard can a search box be?—we’re here to tell you that your catalog is idiosyncratic and you’ll be much faster if you get some quick tips. Finally, your subject librarian likely has an advanced degree in your field. Consider him or her another mentor, even if s/he is in a different building.”

The other tips include:

  • Expect to feel lost and out of place for a bit
  • Recognize that graduate school is a job
  • “Networking” is not just a word for MBAs
  • Recognize that graduate school should not be your entire life
  • Understand that you’re not locked into a particular field, project, or personality
  • Plan ahead for more than one job
  • Build an online profile [librarians can help with this, too!]
  • Use Dropbox
  • Share what you know with others
  • Finally, be informed about the whole of higher education

Read more in the full article…and share with your students or classmates!


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