Reading papers: Being a good researcher is a lot more than having brilliant ideas. First off, you need to know the state of the art. That involves a LOT of reading. A lot of papers are published every year. Some of them are gems. A lot of them are not as good. Knowing how to read papers effectively (and quickly spotting the non-gems) is an essential skill for researchers. Here is a good guide on how to read papers.

Writing papers: Eventually, you will write papers. Writing papers is the way researchers communicate. A successful researcher is also a good writer. Your goal in writing a paper is to tell your peers about what you have learnt doing your research. Your paper should tell an interesting story so that your peers want to read it. Every research group develops a “house style” for writing papers. If you have read our papers or written papers with us, you would have noticed our stylistic characteristics (e.g., “Related work” at the end to avoid distracting the reader; no “This paper is organized as follows” type of mini TOCs in the Introduction; clear statement of claimed contributions, along with signposts to the relevant sections). Here is some very good advice on writing papers. And here is some more advice on what to avoid in writing good (systems) papers.

Writing rebuttals: Many conferences now offer the possibility of a rebuttal. You should always do the best job you can in writing a rebuttal. Even if it looks like the reviewers are unlikely to change their mind, it is good practice to try to write a good rebuttal. Here is some good advice on how to rebut.

Giving research talks: When your paper gets accepted, you will give a talk. The goal of your talk is not to explain every last technical detail but to advertise your paper. A successful talk will make the listener want to read your paper. Here is some good advice on giving research talks (there is also a video).

The author of the last two pieces of advice, Simon Peyton Jones, has more good advice for researchers. Another well-known researcher, Nick Feamster runs a site with “survival advice” for graduate students (h/t to Mario).

Authorship: Authors of a paper are those that made significant contributions to the paper and participated in the writing. ACM offers some guidelines for authorship.

Coping with doctoral studies: Doctoral research is not easy. It is natural that there are ups and downs during the process. Talk to others who have gone through the process. It will help you make sense of difficulties you face and figure out how to overcome them. Here is some excellent advice on overcoming adversity in doctoral research. Check also Nature career columns for tips to manage your academic project.

How to be productively stupid? The more comfortable we become with being stupid, the deeper we will wade into the unknown and the more likely we are to make big discoveries.