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Guide to IMPRS-APS students

As IMPRS-APS members you have been selected to join the school because you were able to convince the selection committee of your excellent results in your bachelor and master studies. Equally important, you showed enthusiasm and great motivation to keep working hard in your PhD studies. Even though lectures and classes will be part of your PhD education within IMPRS-APS, you will now spend much more time less closely supervised than you are probably used to. This implies that you need to be able to work on your own (often in a team though), to motivate yourself, and to work in areas where no-one has ever worked in - the forefront of science, be it in theory or experiment.

In order to obtain your PhD degree it is most important that you work hard on your own topic. This includes that you stay informed over what is going on in your field by reading the scientific literature and by attending conferences and workshops. IMPRS-APS considers this important and thus gives you your own financial means to cover travel costs and purchase books etc. in case your supervisor is not able or willing to do so.

Your PhD will become a success if your research yields new results. These results have to be disseminated, most importantly in peer-reviewed journals, but also through oral and poster presentations. Initially it may be hard to judge the importance of your first own results, but you will fast find your way through the jungle of journals and conferences.

The following gives a coarse guide of what you are expected as IMPRS-APS PhD student - and what you can expect from doing a PhD:

  • Year 1: get acquainted with the field. Do lots of reading, discuss a lot with nearby colleagues, start working on your own field, and learn techniques.
  • Year 2: shift focus towards proceeding with your own research. Identify (major) results possibly achievable. Work towards these and try to achieve first results.
  • Year 3: You will realize that you have developed into one of the world experts in your field. Continue working, produce results, and finally wrap up your thesis.

Naturally, this is a generic list and circumstances may differ a lot. Still, the rough outline will apply. If you have questions never hesitate to contact your supervisor or your IMPRS-APS coordinator and spokesperson. Virtually everybody has experienced a time during the PhD in which things did not work out as hoped for - this is probably the single experience EVERY PhD had to go through, eventually with success.