I’m Starting a DPhil in October. What Can I Do to Prepare?


So, you got into Oxford for a DPhil, congratulations! Here are a few things you can do over the summer to prepare for your time here.

1. Ask your supervisor if they’d like you to do anything in the run-up to joining the lab. They often will have some great pointers!

2. Make a list of the important papers on your project. For example, if you’re studying the function of protein X, search PubMed for all papers with protein X in them. Pubmed can generate a list like this for you automatically – it’s a great tool!

3. Set up automatic paper alerts as soon as you have access you your Oxford email address. This means you get an email notification when there is a new journal article in your favourite journal, or a new paper in your field. You can set these up on PubMed (alerts for specific terms eg protein X) or on the journal websites themselves (eg Nature). This makes it easy to keep on top of the literature!

4. Swat up on the papers published by the lab you’re joining. Then in lab meetings you’ll understand the other projects in your lab better and be a bit familiar with the techniques they use.

5. Read a few reviews on your general subject area, to get a grasp for the unknowns and knowns in the field.

6. Attend a few tutorials on programmes you will have to use, that you’re not familiar with; for example, excel, prism, FlowJo and Adobe Illustrator. LinkedIn is a great resource for finding these, as well as YouTube!

7. Don’t worry if you feel like you don’t know enough. As a new student you’re going to be taught everything – so any prior knowledge is a bonus! You’ll have a day-to-day mentor showing you the ropes when you first start, and it’s expected that you’ll learn on the job. You’ve got this!

8. Might be an obvious one: find a place to live and buy everything you’ll need if you’re moving here. An IKEA day trip is always a winner!

9. Get some rest! Your DPhil is going to hit the ground running. Get in some great rest and relaxation before it all begins!