the three types of books any phd student should start with
There are three types of books that I recommend any PhD student to read as soon as possible in their career. Even better if these are read before starting the PhD. Regardless of discipline1.
I will provide one exemplary book for each category, and these are books that I have personally enjoyed2.
Reading about these topics will make you a better researcher no matter what.
A book on academic writing
Even if you are a native English speaker (lucky you!). Academia has its language. Using it properly takes out biases that would be introduced by submissions that don’t look normal as a result of language, structure, construction, and so on.
Hofmann, A. H. (2019). Scientific Writing and Communication (4th ed.). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
An introductory book on statistics / qualitative research methods
Most people I have met, myself included, do not receive an adequate background in statistics in their BSc and MSc. And I mean the very basic stuff, including descriptive statistics.
Cumming, G., & Calin-Jageman, R. (2016). Introduction to the new statistics. London, England: Routledge.
If someone is starting a PhD that deals with qualitative research methods:
Creswell, J. W., & Poth, C. N. (2017). Qualitative inquiry and research design (international student edition) (4th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.
An introductory book on philosophy of science
Even if your PhD is in engineering. Even if you are developing a tool for your PhD. Ever seen what the abbreviation PhD refers to?. What is the hypothesis you are testing? How do you know that yours is a scientific contribution? Is your contribution advancing knowledge? What allows you to state this? You need to at least know about philosophy of science.
Godfrey-Smith, P. (2021). Theory and reality (2nd ed.). Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.
Bonus: an all-round book on research methods
This type of book enables to appreciate different approaches and methods. You never know that they inspire you to try them out.
Creswell, J. W., & Creswell, J. D. (2018). Research design (5th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.
If you are an educator: yadda yadda ontology / epistemology, my recommendations are biased with respect to my discipline, worldview, and experiences, and they are obviously wrong, and so on. I know. See next footnote. ↩
These are not necessarily the best ones available. Books work differently with different people. Still, reading any book for each category matters way more than not reading one at all. ↩
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