Wednesday, March 30, 2016

PhD tips

My mom sent this ( forwarded by someone).

Salam and Hello. I have talked to a large number of PhD Students and many of them say that they feel they cannot finish their PhD. My take on this is “you can do it only if you find strategies to work efficiently, write quickly, and maximize every day you spend at work”. Following is a list of 35 suggestions that may help you overcome various physical, intellectual, and emotional hurdles during PhD completion. 1. Know your degree program requirements. 2. Create a Motivation Station. You may use some religious versus, music, games etc. Put motivational quotations on your desktop. 3. Write as much as possible. Start early on writing papers. 4. Learn to super-skim the literature. 5. Track your working time every day. 6. Choose an advisor who has a reputation for being helpful. 7. Keep a Victory Log. Reward yourself for achieving your goals/objectives. 8. Don’t let your dissertation committee members/supervisors avoid you. Ask questions. 9. Back up everything in multiple places. 10. Know at least the basics of Microsoft Office., especially track changes feature in MS Word. 11. Think about your research discipline in the midst of your daily life. 12. Use your dissertation proposal defence and conferences to your advantage. Ask questions, welcome your committee members' critiques, and listen for clues as to how to make your project go as smoothly as possible. 13. During work time, block distracting websites. 14. Collaborate with members of your cohort and other peers. 15. Use school supplies you enjoy. Your folders, pens, etc. should be in colors that inspire you. 16. Rest is productive. Take power naps. 17. Draw diagrams when developing an argument or a narrative out of literature. 18. Print out the main/key research papers while writing. 19. Never, never stare blankly at a computer screen. If you're not making progress, get up and move. Better to open a book or even gaze out a window, than to stare at a computer screen that’s going to fry your eyes and make you feel discouraged. 20. Keep an organized spot at home where you can get work done in spare moments. 21. Integrate your social media use into your work. Follow and interact with people and organizations whose posts might spark ideas related to your own research. Blog or tweet about your research. Your followers can be a sounding board as you develop your ideas. 22. Take advantage of all your university’s academic and non-academic resources: research librarians, online resources, dissertation support programming, writing labs, gyms, health services etc., 23. Use peer pressure to your advantage. You know that one grad student in your department who always seems determined to appear smarter and more accomplished than everyone else? Spend at least fifteen minutes around that person every time you need a jolt of ambition. 24. Keep convenience foods in your office. 25. Consider advice carefully, but don't always take it. 26. Consider how much time you spend on the various tasks involved in writing. 27. Free yourself from the grip of grammar and other lower-order concerns. 28. Use Endnote or a similar tool to manage and format your references and citations. 29. Keep up with the necessary sites, like Chronicle of Higher Education, Inside Higher Ed, TheProfessorIsIn, ChronicleVitae, and any other site you can find that produces timely and reliable advice for graduate students in your field. 30. Love your work, and love the people for whom you work. Take heart. If you’ve read all the way to the end of this list, that's a sign that you do have the will to finish your Ph.D. quickly. Now all that remains for you to do is to put your new strategies into action. Stay motivated and blessed. All the best for your PhD.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

What is TPPA?

Have you ever heard about the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement? This agreement involves United States of America and another 11 countries including Malaysia, Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan. Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.

Why should we reject it?  Read this.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Ummi Nazeera looks good in Alif Imani

Have you watched Alif Imani on TV9 recently? I rarely watch Malay dramas but this one caught my attention since Ummi Nazeera casted in it. I have been following her since before she wears hijab. There's something special about her which I like (I'm not a lesbian, if you wonder.hehe). I have to admit that she is really talented in acting.

If you watch Alif Imani, you can see how modest she is in that drama. The clothes she wears are modest and decent. She wears socks even in the scene where she has to clean the bathroom, no touching with non mahrams and all. To me , she has shown very good way of acting as a Muslim woman. Unlike some Muslim actresses who also wear hijab ( I shall not mention their names), she is among the best. Kudos to you, Ummi Nazeera! I pray the best in your career and life (dunia wal akhirah). Amin :)

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

PhD Journey


My PhD journey just started a year ago, but I still seem ambiguous on what I have done so far. 

I just read some essential tips which are useful for PhD students. Before you and I get more stressed with the research, let's read this. 

Tips (written by Julio Peironcely). 

Tips For PhD Students On Their First Week

Tips For PhD Students #1: Find A Coffee Mug

We will begin the caffeine intake in a liquid form. For this you will need a mug. If this is not enough you can take your caffeine as tablets.
This is the first of my tips for PhD students, why? I would like to lie you and say your PhD will be relaxed and you will sleep 8 hours each night. The truth is that sometimes only caffeine will keep you from falling asleep on your keyboard. The sooner you are ready, the sooner you will be productive.

Tips For PhD Students #2: Get Your Desk & Chair

Or at least figure out where you are going to be siting.
This is your holy place. You decide what tacky decoration to display on your desk. Einstein bobble-head? Why not?
Since you will spend lots of hours on your chair, try to choose a comfortable one. You know, ergonomic and with lower back support. Who am I kidding? You will get a chair that has ben stumbling around in your department for at least 20 years.

Tips For PhD Students #3: Do The Paperwork

Probably at the beginning of your PhD you will have to fill in several forms, give your personal details and contact information of some relative to pick you up when you pass out in the lab.
The sooner you get these out of your way the sooner you will start doing science.

Tips For PhD Students #4: Have Access To University Building

The building where you will be working might have some security measures. Make sure you are allowed to be in its premises, also outside working hours.What did you just say? Yep, you are also going to work in the weekends. Or did you think that cell culture would grow healthy without mommy feeding it regularly?

Tips For PhD Students #5: Be Computationally Ready

You are going to need a computer. If you are entitled to one, then order it. If not, bring your laptop. In any case the first weeks you will be working from your laptop while your new computer arrives.
Second most important thing (computationally) is to have access to the Internet. Make sure your computer has wired and wifi connection in campus.
Printers are the third most important thing to arrange. Make sure you can print, that you know where the printer is (they die them in the most absurd places) and learn where they keep printing paper.
Other computational arrangements include: get access to shared drives, buy a second screen if you can (your productivity will benefit from it), install software that your colleagues are using and the 3 mandatory software tools for scientists.
If you will be using a laptop, get a lock so it won’t be stolen. Believe me, it happens.

Tips For PhD Students #6: Stock Office Supplies

Let’s continue with one of those simple tips for PhD students that could be applied in any job. Stock supplies!
They might be locked in a cabinet. Or you might have to order them via an Intranet. Whatever they path to them might be, stock post-its, a few pens, highlighters, paperclips, a stapler and some notebooks.

Tips For PhD Students #7: Befriend The (Almighty) Secretary

There’s only a person more powerful than your professor, the person that controls the professor’s agenda. The secretary can help you squeeze an appointment in the most crowded agenda. And she has the power to spank your professor in the ass if he cancels too many meetings with you.
Furthermore a good secretary knows the answer or who to contact to answer any of your bureaucratic questions.
Be nice to the secretary, befriend her and remember not to get angry with her if your prof is late or cancels you appointment, she’s just the messenger.

Tips For PhD Students #8: Register To Courses

Some PhD’s have to follow an extensive curriculum of courses. Others they can voluntarily attend workshops to develop some useful skills.
Whatever your situation is you need to have a clear view on the courses available for you. Which ones are mandatory? Which are optional? Which are nice to do? Which ones should you do to be a better scientist?
For some of the optional courses and skills workshops your boss will have to pay the registration fees (plus allow you to spend the course hours away from your research). It is wise then to sit with him and discuss which courses he will be fine with you following (and him paying).


Now you are done with bureaucracy. You did the time consuming tasks that need little brain activity.
It’s time to have a taste of science in your first week of PhD. That’s why you choose for a PhD in the first place, didn’t you?
Keep reading if you want more tips for PhD students that are a bit scientific.

Tips For PhD Students #9: Download Papers To Read

Read papers. Lots of them. This is what you are going to do at the beginning of your PhD.
Which ones should you read? Ok, this is what you are going to do.
Don’t just ask your boss what to read. Since you are a proactive student (aren’t you?) you are going to use Google Scholar, PubMed and you librarian to find papers related to your research topic.
You are going to read them and check the papers they cite. Make a list of the 10-20 most important according to your opinion first and the number of citations they have, second.
Send this list to your boss and ask if could tell you some good papers you might be missing.
If you want to know how to find good papers to read, the Literature Review Boot Camp has a section on how to find literature. Check it out.

Tips For PhD Students #10: Start A Literature Review

Since we are talking about reading papers, let’s continue with a literature review. You need to find what’s been done before in your field. What still needs to be done. What are the hot topics. You need to see where your research fits.
You need to find papers, read them, summarise them and organise your learnings.
This making sense of what is going on in your field is a literature review. The sooner you start doing a literature review the proper way, the better.
And if you want to do a proper literature review, you need to follow the Literature Review Boot Camp. I could not recommend it enough.
This is one of those tips for PhD students I wish I had used at the beginning of my PhD. I never did a proper literature review. As a result, I believe my overview of my field of research was not accurate the first two years.

Tips For PhD Students #11: Check Previous Thesis Of Your Group

Why should you inspect previous thesis in you group?
You can get an idea of:
  • which topics are preferred in your group.
  • how many papers PhDs publish before graduating.
  • who did what. Useful if you have to use some in-house developed technique or extend on somebody else’s work.
  • learn how a PhD thesis is structured in your faculty.

Tips For PhD Students #12: Craft A Research Plan

I know you might find this idea a bit controversial. How can you plan in detail how your research is going to be? Aren’t we trying to expand human knowledge by exploring the unknown?
Mmmm yes.
But at the same time you should have a vague idea of where you are going. What is the question you are trying to answer? What intermediate steps you need to follow to answer that question?
Give a try to this. You can split your PhD in 4-6 blocks or sub-projects. Each one should be ambitious enough and well defined to produce a publication. Otherwise you are not being ambitious.
Try to design it in a way that the first project is easy and that will likely yield results soon. Why? To boost your motivation by seeing progress and early results.
It’s not a good idea to wait 2 or 3 years to see the first results, I can tell you that.
Set a date in the future (in 6 to 12 months) to review if your initial plan is going well or you need to change direction.

Tips For PhD Students #13: Meet your Professor/supervisor

You have made a list of courses you have or want to follow. You have read papers. You have made a draft of a research plan.
Now it’s time to meet with your professor and make sure both on the same page about your PhD. Are your expectations aligned? Do you both agree on what you will be doing and how?

Tips For PhD Students #14: Meet Your New Colleagues

The last tip you should be aware of is to talk directly to your new colleagues. Why not arrange appointments to introduce yourself to your fellow PhDs and postdocs?
Learn what their project is about. This will help you to see how your project fits in the research of the group. Additionally, you will find out who knows what. This is useful when you get stuck and need some expert advice.
Additionally you can ask them for their opinion and experience in doing research in your group/field. How are they linking it? What were the problems they found at the beginning of their PhD?

Tips For PhD Students #15: Be Social

You want to get to know your colleagues and make friends (if you are new in town). At the end of the day we are all social animals, aren’t we?
You can know more of your colleagues by joining them for coffee breaks, for lunch, for any celebration, PhD defines or social gathering (there are plenty at universities)
If you want to make friends outside your research group you have different options. To name a few you can join a sports club, take lessons or join a student association. There are plenty of PhD students associations and groups that organize activities for foreign students.

Remember that you also have a life outside your research.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Foods that will make you gain weight

well, hello everyone.

I received comments from some acquaintances that I've gained weight tremendously. This sounds devastating to me. I managed to lose 13 kilograms five years ago, and I gained back the weight. Anyway, I would like to share with you the foods which made me fat. I ate a lot and I didn't go for workouts. Thanks to my family and friends for the mouth watering foods treats. Nasi lemak, nasi kerabu, burger, french, fries, ice creams, cakes, chocolate,all high calories foods (you name them). I am grateful for the treats but the issue was that I didn't have time to move actively. ( what an excuse right?). well, I have repented already and now I'm working actively on burning them all. Just wait and see.

Happy New Year 2016


Hope its not too late to wish everyone a happy new year! I always have new resolutions when it comes to new year. This may sounds cliche but I really hope that this time I'll be able to achieve them.

Have I tell you that I've quit my job at the college and currently pursuing PhD full time? Yes, that's what I'm doing now. It is a huge investment, indeed. This coming February will be my second year already. Pray for me! I aim to graduate by 2018.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

This letter somehow touches my heart.

My darling Lil,
I know the only reason you wanted to be in hospital was because you were in great pain but that you really wanted to be home : you’ve been in too many hospitals too many times. But Allah, in His Infinite wisdom, placed you there so that we, your family, would spend as much time as we could with you.
I have a thousand and one memories of you during your last days in this world.
I remember, once, you closed your eyes and tears flowed onto your cheeks, as you fought the pain, and I held your left hand and I wept, trying hard not to make any sounds. I thought you could not see me cry because your eyes were closed but you knew, and you put your right hand over mine and you patted it, as if you were saying, “Don’t cry, I am all right.”
I remember all the text messages you sent me. When I wrote that I was praying for you, you wrote back that you had prayed too, but that you had asked Allah to let you bear the burden of my worries.
When I looked at your grave, my heart ached with pain. I watched your father and your brothers fill it up with earth while Boo and Inah stood near me. I looked at your brothers and counted three sons. Boo was beside me.
There are five of you. Where was my fourth son? And then I realised it was you who was missing. I had forgotten you were beneath the mounds of earth.
And I held up my hands and whispered “From You we come, and to You we return. I return to You, O Allah, my son.”
May you be with the righteous, my son.

Raja Zarith Sofiah
Sultanah of Johor 

Tunku Jalil passed away at 25 (on the 5th of December 2015) after battling liver cancer. Condolences to the whole family of Tunku Jalil and Royalty of Johor. Innalillahiwainnailahirojiun.