I recently published a medium article outlining important general guidelines for an independent researcher (https://medium.com/@thommengk/general-guidelines-for-an-independent-researcher-4d3014ab1d45). I follow up this list with a list of more specific points, which I thought every independent researcher should try out, or at least be aware of. These general and specific guidelines are applicable to new PhD students, and other researchers who may find themselves lost, and in need for some guidance.

  1. Write (many) Research Summaries — Probably the single most useful thing I did during my PhD was writing and maintaining a research summary. Specifically, writing and maintaining many versions of it. A mark of a good researcher is being able to communicate their research in a range of resolutions. As a guideline, I would recommend maintaining 3 versions — a 2 page version, a 1 paragraph version, and a 2 line version. Although it takes considerable effort to do this, it is well worth the time. This is because you can use appropriate versions of these summaries to apply for internships, research exchanges, jobs, to quickly brief a new collaborator/group member, to prepare an elevator pitch, etc., …


Carrying out independent research can be, and usually is, a daunting task. The initial fuel of sheer curiosity and the thrill of pursuing an original idea may quickly be overcome by the uncertainties associated with finding a research direction, the never-ending task of getting up to speed with the massive body of literature and experiences of self-doubt multiple times along the way. This is the case for many PhD students and other researchers, who may find themselves in situations where they are left to fend for themselves, with respect to their research. …

Thommen George Karimpanal

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