PhD students and postdoctoral researchers often receive from their supervisors words of wisdom that stay with them for the rest of their lives. Good advice at the right time can make a huge difference, especially in the early stages of a career. Unfortunately, not everyone who seeks advice has access to it. Although there is plenty of guidance on the mechanics of writing a thesis or a grant proposal, there is much less on maintaining morale, overcoming obstacles, and keeping things in perspective. This book fills that gap, bringing together outstanding examples of supervisors’ words of wisdom, and making them available to early-career researchers around the world.
The Words of Wisdom project was first proposed at the 2014 AGM of the Global Young Academy (GYA) in Santiago, Chile. As a worldwide network of young researchers, the Global Young Academy is well positioned to undertake such a project. This book includes 76 contributions from 31 countries on 6 continents. Over half of them were submitted by Global Young Academy and National Young Academy members. Each contribution consists of the name, nationality, and subject area of the contributor, followed by the quote itself and, optionally, an attribution. Where the contributor chose not to name the advisor, the attribution field is left blank. Beneath the quote, the contributor puts the advice into context, explaining the situation in which it arose and the reason that it stuck.
Despite the demographic diversity of the contributors, several clear themes emerged. The chapters of this book reflect those themes and the varieties of research experience around the world. Some of the contributions are personal, others are pragmatic, some are even poetic. But all reward contemplation. Together, they reveal much about the humanity of knowledge generation, the challenges of a career in research, and the value of mentorship in negotiating these challenges. We hope they will be a source of inspiration and support to early-career researchers worldwide.