Tuesday, 13 August 2013

List of expectations and tips for my students

Existing, new and prospective students should be aware of some basic "rules", tips and expectations. Here's a start at my list. As a student these will enhance your performance, assist your role as part of the research group, and contribute to your rounder education.


  • Attend classes, do assignments.
  • Understand and balance the project triangle: resources, schedule, quality.
  • Don't expect instant replies or unreasonable deadlines from professors.
  • Go to seminars and guest lecturers that we recommend.
  • Develop a learning plan with targets and update it regularly.


  • Use the Microsoft basic suite (a necessary evil): Word, Excel, PowerPoint.
    • If you have it, use Outlook on the university Exchange server.
  • Learn and use the Office templates and tools:
    • Word – use styles for headings, labels, table of contents, etc. Learn navigation. Learning how to add captions and do styles to help organize your paper.
    • PowerPoint – use a template so that formatting is preserved and changeable, and decks can be shared and reused effectively.
  • Understand and use your email accounts, including your uwaterloo.ca email.
  • Employ proper Canadian email etiquette, including from/to/subject, greeting and signature lines.
  • Use calendar invitations so that invitees can read them (Doodle is a decent alternative), and learn where rooms are and how to book them (especially 4222 and 4268).
  • Use Dropbox and learn its many functions.
  • Learn LEARN.


  • Read a minimum of 2 academic papers per week
  • Use Mendeley for references – it integrates with Word, builds groups and is available on-line.
  • Become fluent in the uWaterloo library and PRIMO, and Google Scholar.
  • Learn to use but not rely on Wikipedia.
  • Identify your relevant literature (journals, authors, conference, etc.) and stay current.
  • Read the sustainability "classics" – I have started a list on Mendeley.
  • Keep a log of what you read, key points and quotes, and your insights – this requires a system and discipline.
  • Develop and manage your on-line professional (LinkedIn.com) and academic personae (e.g., Academia.edu, Mendeley.com, SSRN.com, Google Scholar citations, uWaterloo.ca, etc.). This is a never-ending task, that needs to be done carefully, selectively and regularly.


  • Tread lightly in your personal behavior and sustainability habits - reusable mug, public transit, etc.  
  • Perceptions are important: it is not acceptable to attend a meeting with a disposable cup in-hand.
  • Read my blog www.sbyoung.com