Doctoral Journey Guide

“If we knew what we were doing, it would not be called research, would it?” - Albert Einstein

Source: Our World in Data. Link

If you are reading this: congratulations! You are lucky to have been born at the best time in history. 

A few centuries ago scientific method was developed, but it has been in the last few decades that the full power of scientific knowledge has been unleashed for the benefit of mankind. A century ago, half of all children died before puberty. But not you, you are alive! Just like many of your classmates! So, congratulations on being born in the best time in history to live: the era of science! Of course, it is not a perfect era. The fact that we have quality information has brought a problem that we did not foresee, and that is that we not only live in the information era, but in the era of disinformation. 

So, congratulations on wanting to contribute your time, skills, and gifts to make the world a better place. Here I have compiled some materials that I hope will help you and give you a perspective on the current scientific knowledge. 

A perspective to keep in mind (click on the image)

The Illustrated Guide to a Ph.D. Matt Might (

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.5 License.

Science is a way of thinking much more than it is a body of knowledge.”Carl Sagan

Readings & Resources


Updated  in the Books Section

Elemental knowledge

How our brain works

The real world


Dealing with data

Advanced and Specific issues with Clinical Research

My educational philosophy

My research and educational philosophy

You discover things when you are learning

You never stop learning

The best work is work done

One should not get attached to knowledge, and should let it go without problems if there are new ones.

Is that an opinion or a fact?

The path to learning begins by recognizing that you don't know something.

The work-life balance issue is irrelevant. The important thing is to be happy.

What I expect from a doctoral student

These are the main attributes that I appreciate in a doctoral candidate: 

Key quotes

“The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge.” Stephen Hawking.

"To play a wrong note is insignificant. To play without passion is inexcusable! ― L. Beethoven.

“Study hard what interests you the most in the most undisciplined, irreverent and original manner possible.” ― Richard Feynmann

"I have frequently been questioned, especially by women, of how I could reconcile family life with a scientific career. Well, it has not been easy." ― Marie Skłodowska Curie

Compulsory readings & videos


Digital skills

Open science

Health Sciences

Data Management

Data Analysis

Converting data into information

Research study design

Medical writing

Skills required for biomedical research

Time management skills: ideally Time block as Reclaim and Carl Newport's Deep Work

How to search: Internet search beyond the first page of results and how to write good questions

Understand the nature of research in dentistry serie JADA

How to read the medical literature serie JADA

Scientific writing: Scientific writingthis and you should buy this book: Moher, D 2014. Guidelines for Reporting Health Research: A User’s Manual. Wiley and how to write a grant application. Also how to use to use Google Docs here (yes, again!)

Presentations Oral presentations skills

Basic Data Analisis: introductory guide for students and self-paced course

Data Management: Research Data Management and Sharing, 10 mistakes in DM and more information in the RDM toolkit. Also from UNC a nice guide

Open science: course and paper 10 rules to implement open and reproducible research


Data science tools: tidyverse in R, Learn R and books about R. Suggested lecture: Lawlor et al. Ten simple rules for teaching yourself R..

Data visualization here, here. Books recommended Healy or Wilke. Choose the correct viz


EXPLORATORY DATA ANALYSYS, plus inference via frequentist or bayesian approach

Understand regression since every analysis is some kind of linear modelling

"The excitement of learning separates youth from old age. As long as you're learning, you're not old."  Rosalyn Yalow

Some quotes for inspiration

"I was taught that the way of progress was neither swift nor easy."  Marie Curie, '

"There are two possible outcomes: if the result confirms the hypothesis, then you've made a measurement. If the result is contrary to the hypothesis, then you've made a discovery." E. Fermi (1901 - 1954)

“An experiment is a question which science poses to Nature, and a measurement is the recording of Nature’s answer.” Max Planck

“What we know is a drop, what we don’t know is an ocean.” Isaac Newton

“In questions of science, the authority of a thousand is not worth the humble reasoning of a single individual.”Galileo Galilei

“The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge.” Stephen Hawking

“What I love about science is that as you learn, you don’t really get answers. You just get better questions.” John Green

“The scientist is not a person who gives the right answers, he’s one who asks the right questions.”Claude Levi-Strauss

“Science is what we understand well enough to explain to a computer; art is everything else.”Donald E. Knuth

"If you know you are on the right track, if you have this inner knowledge, then nobody can turn you off... no matter what they say."  Barbara McClintock


Finally: Science is like a parachute, only works when open:

The illiterate of the future are not those who can't read or write but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn
Alvin Toffler