Becoming a Researcher: Making the Transition to Graduate School, Revised Edition

Becoming a Researcher: Making the Transition to Graduate School, Revised Edition

By Steve Wolverton and Jonathan Dombrosky

Available in print. Ebook version coming soon.

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*All proceeds go directly to the Society of Ethnobiology to support future publications.

Abstract: Entering a graduate program in the sciences or social sciences requires a transition from structured undergraduate learning using prompts for reading, writing, and exam-taking to an unstructured environment of knowing a field of study, identifying research problems, and answering questions using data and outcomes reported in a thesis or dissertation. Faculty members and students often assume that high-performing undergraduates will “figure it out” when they enter graduate school, but undergraduate education does not prepare students for independent research. Becoming a Researcher focuses on the transition from structured learning to independent research with exercises on routine setting, time management, peer review, and essay writing to focus on research topics. New to the revised edition is discussion of motivation, revising research products, and new “first” experiences that are part of becoming an independent researcher. Exercises concern adopting new habits and mindsets that help students design a research proposal and help them succeed in their first year of graduate school.

About the Authors

Steve Wolverton is a Professor in the Department of Geography and the Environment at the University of North Texas. His research focuses upon historical ecology, zooarchaeology, and conservation ecology in North and South America during the Holocene.

Jonathan Dombrosky is a Postdoctoral Scholar at Crow Canyon Archaeological Center. He studies human-environment interaction through the fields of environmental archaeology, ecology, analytical chemistry, and data science.


  • Foreword
  • Preface to the Second Edition
  • Preface to the First Edition
  • Acknowledgements
  • Chapter 1. Becoming a Researcher
  • Chapter 2. Time
  • Chapter 3. The Research Topic
  • Chapter 4. The Support Network
  • Chapter 5. The Research Question
  • Chapter 6. The Literature Review
  • Chapter 7. Motivation
  • Chapter 8. The Proposal Storyboard
  • Chapter 9: The Proposal Defense
  • Chapter 10. Revision
  • Chapter 11. First Conference and Other Firsts
  • Conclusion
  • Appendix 1: Doing The Work
  • Appendix 2: The Rational Response Method for Overcoming Limiting Beliefs
  • Appendix 3: The Revision Plan
  • Reference Cited