Over the years, I’ve collated a list of resources and tips for PhD students, based on my own experience and that of colleagues.

Please let me know if I should add/change anything, or what you found useful. 


When things are not going so well:





  • Seven Research Contributions in HCI by Jacob O. Wobbrock
  • Use this edited version of Heilmeier’s questions to help you define your research project
    • What is the real world problem?
    • What are you trying to do? Articulate your objectives using absolutely no jargon.
    • How is it done today, and what are the limits of current practice?
    • Approach:
      • What are you going to do about it (approach)?
      • What are you really going to do about it (operationalization)? 
      • What’s new in your approach and why do you think it will be successful?
    • Who cares?
    • If you’re successful, what difference will it make?
    • What are the risks and the payoffs?
    • How much will it cost (time/money)?
    • How long will it take?
    • What will success look like for this project?
    • What are the midterm and final “exams” to check for success?
    • Where will you publish this?
  • Need to know general usage stats for the internet/smart devices/online video behaviour? – Use Google Barometer: https://www.consumerbarometer.com/en/graph-builder/?question=N1


  • Identifying related literature
  • Critically reading a research paper
  • How to Summarize a Research Paper
  • How to handle a large amount of literature. Blog post. 2011. Emphasizes the need for speed reading and organization tactics.
  • How to avoid going down a rabbit hole of literature search:
    • identify 1-2 key papers that are the key papers for your research. Look at the papers they cite. And the ones that have cited them.
    • Read titles, abstracts, scan methods & conclusions.
    • Aim to identify the key authors. Set google alerts for when those people publish papers.
    • Revise your choice of key papers. Are there a few more that now seem like you will reference them in every paper you write? Also set alerts for when any of your key papers get cited.


Writing your thesis:
  • Write every day and keep writing throughout the PhD. Don’t wait till the end, it will make the task of writing a thesis a lot easier.
  • Write that PhD– Twitter account with lots of good tips
  • How to write a thesis – Rowena Murray book
  • Write a fantasy abstract for your thesis – it will help you keep focused
  • Finishing up your PhD thesis – Pat Thomson
Writing papers:

General writing:



Where to publish:



Opportunities to present:


Opportunities for dissemination:

How to visualise your research:


  • When should you start reviewing? My advice is as soon as possible because it will help you understand what other people are working on, and will help you understand what is the benchmark for publishable papers. Always discuss with your supervisor first – you can even ask them to check your review before you submit it.
  • How to Review papers
  • How to review a late-breaking work (CHI)
  • Reviewing for CSCW (Dave Randall)


Find job opportunities:

Negotiating an offer: