✓ updated in October 2020

Are you feeling lonely in your PhD life? Unfortunately if you’re in academia, I’m afraid that chances of feeling lonely, lost and overwhelmed all at the same time are quite high. I hear you, I’ve been there.

The good news is, actually, there are tons of materials online from people sharing their own ups and downs of doing a PhD. The bad news is, there are tons of materials online: videos, podcasts, Facebook groups and pages, the whole Twitter, and Instagram! Without mentioning all the journals, blogs and websites…

SO… I thought I will make some resources to help find such materials, selecting those which seem to me as relevant to the PhD student experience. I’m not saying that I will make resources for all of these media types, but I’ll try my best and see what time brings us.

So for today, let’s start with YouTube!

I remember how I randomly came across some of these videos during my PhD studies and how it made me feel a bit better :) Thus I hope you can also find some inspiration from these PhD students’ vlogs and videos, from these TED talks or from these two music video clip parodies below. I know there is MUCH more out there, I only selected the ones which I found while researching for this resource and which I liked, no offense.

YouTube Channels

Ava Mason

Update October 2020: Ava recently contacted me to let me know about her YouTube channel and I thought it would indeed be a great contribution to add to this resource! In particular, because Ava is at the very beginning of her PhD and I look forward to following her journey!

She is starting a PhD at UCL (UK), in addition to being a research assistant at Kings (UK), in psychiatry.

She already has nice videos about her path and on subjects like confidence struggles in academia or application and CV!

If you are also starting a PhD, you can follow Ava’s journey at the same time as you go through your own!


The PhDiaries

Update October 2020: it looks like Lucy has finish or is very close to finish her PhD, she already got her next job and she made a nice video about “Academia: Stay or Go?” ! Congrats!

Lucy is a PhD student at the University of Oxford (UK):

“The PhDiaries is a YouTube channel for PhD students to find advice, relatable misadventures, and comfort in knowing they’re not alone in their problems, all in under four minutes and usually once or twice a fortnight.”

Here about the difference between challenging and suffering

Or here about rejection

Simon Clark

He finished his PhD about a year ago from the University of Exeter (UK), Simon has been posting videos since a long time and is quite popular given the number of subscribers. Throughout his PhD he maintained a vlog, but he also has additional interesting videos like for example here when looking back at his PhD experience: “Pros and cons of doing a PhD (personal experience)

Olivia's Grad School Vlogs

Olivia started grad school about one year ago so if you’re also in the beginning you could be going through this together. Olivia is studying at Penn State’s College (US).

She already has a video on things she wishes she would have known before starting

And here her vlog channel.

NOT MY THESIS by okidokiboki

Deboki finished her PhD last year in the US and has an interesting series named “NOT MY THESIS”:

“A series about my experience as a PhD student in biomedical engineering. I’ve been at this grad school thing for a while”

In this episode below she goes “through each of the years of grad school and talk about why each of them suck in ways that are specific to that year”

PhD Life series by joolzzenda

Joolz has a few videos about her experience of a PhD student in the UK.

You might like her short video “How to Ruin your Mental Health as a PhD Student

Surviving and Thriving in Higher Education

This one is not a one-person channel and is not from PhD students.

Here are videos from researchers and professors towards PhD students and other early career researchers:

“an online resource for graduate students, postdoctoral scholars, and junior scientists to navigate their path and learn from the experiences of others. Faculty members and scientists in the fields of chemistry and chemical engineering are invited to share their tips on developing a successful career. We have presentations on 3 categories: technical skills, soft skills, and health in higher education.”

For example: Depression in Graduate Studies, What are the Signs? (by Dr. Gary Christenson, MD)


TED Talks

TED global: Why Science Demands a Leap into the Unknown, by Uri Alon - 2013

Dr. Uri Alon is a professor in Systems biology. In this talk he reflects back on his own PhD experience and about what kind of advice he gives to his students today when they feel stuck in their projects.

stop thinking of research as a direct line from question to answer, but as something more creative.”

Can’t insert the video here for some reason, you’ll need to click the link ☝️

TEDx: The Reset Button: The Great Fantasy of Academia - 2015

A nice 15-minute talk reminding that it’s not so much the grades which matter rather than the capacity to study and to master a subject.

TEDx: Reimagining the PhD – 2014

A PhD student in the US sharing how she figured out what career path to follow and how with her fellow students they organized group sessions to work on this together, starting with self-assessment tests and taking on action outside their lab to develop their skills.

I find it quite inspiring to see how the students themselves created their own career development program.


Music video clip parodies


Postdoc Me Now - A 'Don't Stop Me Now' Science Parody - 2018

Get a “glimpse of what it’s like to be a grad student near the end of your PhD.”

Can’t insert the video here for some reason, you’ll need to click the link ☝️

Bohemian Rhapsody (aka 'The Tale of a Post Doc') - Laboratory Parody - 2013


Please if you have recommendations of videos to add here, just let us know in the comments below or shoot me an email and I’ll have a look, not promising anything! In particular, I would love to know about YouTube channels others than from the US and the UK, but it should be in English, or in French (’cause I’m French), thanks!

BTW, you know how to speed up YouTube videos, right? You can probably watch all the videos above at speed 1.25 or 1.5, if you’re short on time.

Thanks for having a look at this resource today :)

If you’re interested in more materials for PhD students you could check out my resources of Instagram # and @ for PhD students and of Twitter @ and # for PhD Students, or my Project Management resource for PhD students and supervisors!