Welcome! Here's some info, tips, and tricks that might come in handy during the first year of your post graduate studies.

key events during your first year.





Hand in your first ISP

(or individual study plan) - a document that outlines your aims for the coming year, and will be reviewed by your supervisors and an external comittee at the faculty.

Attend your first conference as a doctoral student

your annual expense account of 25 000 SEK is meant to cover travel costs and other fees related to conferences.

Start taking PhD courses

the total amount of time that PhD candidates are expected to spend on studies differs between subjects, but usually involves about 60-90 hp (or 1-1,5 years of full time studies). Most people try to take their credits during the beginning of their doctoral studies.

Present your first draft at

a higher seminar

many departments arrange regular collegial readings - so called 'higher seminars' - where scholars (including PhD candidates) are encouraged to share some of their ongoing work. In most cases, this is a great opportunity to get  constructive feedback on (unfinished) texts. 



Tip no. 1 







As you're probably about to find out, this is central to doing full-time research. Below, we've collected a few tools and tricks that easens the task.









Journal TOC 

(and other similar services) send out notifications when new issues of your favourite journals have been published.




Google Alerts 

crawls the web on your behalf, and sends out daily or weekly summaries of important developments in topic areas (this is especially convenient if your thesis relates to a subject that is reported on in the mainstream press). 





or Bloggtrottr 

(and other similar services) help you collect and subscribe to blogs/webpages and get an overview of recent updates and newly published posts (many prominent scholars are also bloggers).




E-mail lists 

are genereally a good way of keeping track of upcoming conferences, publications and academic discussions. Ask your colleagues to find out which ones are most relevant in your field.



tip no.2


improve your writing EFFICIENCY








To a large extent - reading and writing is what you'll be doing for the next four-five years. Here's two suggestions that will make that process a lot easier.





You will soon start reading a lot (as in a lot) and not using a bibliographic software 

(like Mendeley, Paperpile, EndNote, Bookends, or Zotero) from the very start is most likely something you will deeply regret. Just trust us. A bibliographic software will:


  • help you collect and keep track of all the stuff you've read (or plan to read). This might not seem like a huge thing at first, but is crucial when you'll soon be dealing with hundreds (or thousands) of sources


  • enable you to tag, underline, categorize and make annotations in pdf's, and thereby create a tidy digital library of your own


  • provide smart search functions that make it easier to find what you are looking for (or things you didn't even know you needed - large scale word searches are amazing)


  • allow you to install smart word-plugins that saves tremendous amounts of time when citing and creating bibliographies.Often, the software also includes functions that automatically helps you switch between different style guides

      – such as APA and Chicago Manual style – which is great if your'e publishing               articles







If you're finding yourself in situations where you're writing the exact same thing over and over again (when replying to e-mails, or adding your contact information to papers or abstracts, for example), a text expansion software (like Typinator, TypeIt4Me, or Texter) will save you a lot of time. In short, a text expansion software allows you to create a library of abbreviations that automatically expands into proper text when you write them. For instance, you might might decide that the abbreviation "kra" should automatically expand to:


"Kind regards,


Anna Andersson

PhD Candidate

Faculty of Arts

Umeå University, Sweden"


Simple and convenient.









tip no. 3


READ and learn

from other peoples mistakes







It's simple enough. If you bump into a problem, someone has probably been there before. Here are some reading tips.


& reading




First Monday: Writing tips - checklist from an online journal that's great to go through when you're working with an (almost) finished text.


William Strunk, Jr. & E. B. White (2000). The Elements of Style. New York: Longman.


Howard S. & Richards, Pamela (2007). Writing for Social Scientists: How to Start and Finish Your Thesis, Book, or Article. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.


Graff, Gerald & Birkenstein, Cathy (2010). They Say, I Say: The Moves that Matter in Academic Writing. (2nd ed.) New York: W. W. Norton & Company. 


Edwards, Paul N (2015). How to Read a Book. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan.


Booth, Wayne C., Colomb, Gregory G., & Williams, Joseph M. (2008). The Craft of Research. (3rd ed.) Chicago: University of Chicago Press.


Bem, Daryl J. (2002). Writing the Empirical Journal Article. In: Darley, J. M., Zanna, M. P., & Roediger III, H. L. (eds). The Compleat Academic: A Career Guide. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. 


Sword, Helen (2012). Stylish Academic Writing. Harvard University Press (obs, is available online through umu)













Edwards, P. N. (2015). How to Give an Academic Talk. Ann Arbor, University of Michigan.


Preparing for Presentations, by Fernando Delgado.


Bulldozed by a Moderator, from the Ms. Mentor advice column in The Chronicle of Higher Education.


The University of Cambridge HPS short guide explaining How to Publish an Article.


Lagoze, Carl, Edwards, Paul, Sandvig, Christian, & Plantin, Jean-Christophe. (2015). Should I Stay or Should I Go? Alternative Infrastructures in Scholarly Publishing. International Journal of Communication 9.












Mutual Expectations Regarding Research Advising. (.docx) In: B. M. Shore, The Graduate Advisor Handbook: A Student-Centered Approach. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. (Appendix 2)


The Professor is In: Top 5 Traits of the Worst Advisors (blogpost)


The Mentee Expectations Worksheet. From: Rackham Graduate School, (2015). How to Get the Mentoring You Want: A Guide for Graduate Students. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan. (p. 36)













Agre, Phil. (2005). Networking on the Network: A Guide to Professional Skills for Ph.D. Students. Los Angeles: UCLA.


Peters, Robert L. (1997). Getting What You Came For: The Smart Student’s Guide to Earning an M.A. or a Ph.D. (rev. ed.) New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 


Darley, J. M., Zanna, M. P., & Roediger III, H. L. (eds). (1987) The Compleat Academic: A Career Guide. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. 


Becker, Howard S. (1998). Tricks of the Trade: How to Think About Research While You’re Doing It. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.



tip no.4


start keeping track of your prolongation








Prolongation is the extra time which may be added on to your original four years of employment for various reasons. Here are a few things to keep in mind about it.

Prolongation is the extra time you receive as a doctoral student, added onto your original employment for such things as teaching, work on different boards and committees (such as HumDok or the local doctoral councils), sick leave, parental leave, military service etc. The administrator(s) at your department calculate your prolongation and they take weekends/full weeks into account. This probably means that the number of days may be slightly more than what you have estimated yourselves. In addition, different departments at the Faculty of Arts handle prolongation for doctoral students who have been teaching or taking on other positions differently. Therefore, HumDok wishes to alert you to some important things to think about:

keep your own general record

Remember to keep a general record of how many hours, days etc. of prolongation you are entitled to from teaching and other positions in different councils and associations. (For example: a local Doctoral Council, a doctoral association like HumDok, different committees and boards, sick- and parental leave, Swedish military service etc.) You will then be able to compare this to the prolongation time presented by the administration.

write it down in your isp

According to the current rules at Umeå University all doctoral students need to include the amount of teaching and different prolongation-based activities that they have in their ISP (and have this decided on every year). However, this is handled differently at different departments so make sure to include any prolongation-based activity in your ISP that needs to be there. You can add this afterwards when you revise your ISP the next time, if you have not done it before. This will then be compared to the hours/days that the administrator has if/when you apply to extend your employment according to the prolongation you have received.




According to the current rules at the University, you must remember to apply for all the prolongation you wish to use BEFORE you set a date for your thesis defence. If you do not do this beforehand, you may lose all that prolongation and receive none of it back. Therefore, the date of your defence and the last date of employment should be the same if you intend to make use of all the prolongation days earned.




It is not your supervisors’ choice when the defence will be or if/how you make use of your prolongation days. You should always make sure how many days you have earned before setting the defence date if you wish to use those days, regardless of the advice or opinion of your supervisors. It is of course always good to have a dialogue with your supervisors on how to plan for your defence and your remaining time as a doctoral student, but if you want to use your prolongation days or not is up to you.




These are some of the rules and guidelines that apply for prolongation for activities like teaching, work in different councils etc. that are very important to know about. Always make sure to look up and ask how this is done at your own department, "older" doctoral students often know about these things and how to navigate them in your everyday work.

You can read more about this in the Higher Education Ordinance, in particular in chapter 5: "Anställd som doctorand m.m.” / “Employment of doctoral students etc”.

We also advise you to take a look at the Umeå University Regulations for Doctoral Education, in particular chapter 13: “Förlängning av anställning som doctorand” / "Extension of a doctoral studentship". 


REMEMBER: Prolongation days are compensation for work that you have already done instead of thesis work, and if you have been offered prolongation days it is your right to use them according to the regulations mentioned above.