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UPDATE (03/22): We have launched two new services - Community platform and PhD funding advice and database - and added them here now for the sake of completeness.


What is Effective Thesis?

Effective Thesis is an organisation that supports students to begin research careers that significantly improve the world. We do this primarily by helping students identify important problems where further research could have a big impact. Previously, our main service was individual coaching aiming to help students with their final thesis topic choices (see more details in our 2020 post on updates from 2019). Recently, we have launched a few more services with the same goal that we want to introduce here.


This is the core service that we have been providing for the last few years. We assist students individually with the general process of choosing their thesis/PhD topic and connect them with relevant resources, other students with the same focus and more experienced domain experts. You can apply for our coaching here.   

Our current team consists of one Head of Coaching Management, one Head of Coaching Development and three volunteer coaches. As our organisation grows, we are continuously looking for promising new volunteer coaches to complement our team. See the Get involved section below for more information.

Help with finding a supervisor

Finding a good supervisor is often a struggle for students planning to pursue research careers. At the same time, we believe that choice of supervisor can make a significant difference to a student’s development as a researcher. We have decided to create resources to support students searching for supervisors and help them make better decisions.

We are compiling, on an ongoing basis, a list of academics who we believe could be a good fit to act as undergraduate/masters/PhD thesis supervisors for the students interested in doing research in one of the research directions we recommend. We don't match and introduce students to potential supervisors ourselves, but we give students instructions on how to communicate with potential supervisors. You can apply for access to this database here.

We are also building a series of posts covering how to find potential supervisors (with an emphasis on choosing PhD supervisors), how to choose between multiple potential supervisors, and other key questions students should ask themselves before embarking on a PhD. 

If you can supervise students interested in some of the research directions we recommend and would like to be added to our database, please fill in this form. Similarly, please fill in the form if you know anyone who you think would be a good supervisor in any of the research directions mentioned.  

We are running an opportunity search service for students looking for research opportunities in some of our prioritised research directions. The opportunities we cover include jobs, conferences, scholarships, internships, awards, collaboration offers, calls for papers, seminars, reading groups and funding. We only share research opportunities and focus on opportunities suited to students and early career researchers with up to 2 years of professional experience. You can sign up for this service here.

We try to cover as large a space of opportunities as possible and thus rely on multiple people contributing to our database of opportunities whenever they find out about something relevant. If you’d like to help us search for these opportunities in a given research direction you're interested in/have networks in, we would be very happy to have you join our team. See the Get involved section below for more information.

If you know about a one-off opportunity that could fit our focus and you would like us to share it with other students (e.g. you run research internships, are hiring for early-career research jobs, are seeking collaborators, etc..), please message isobel.phillips@effectivethesis.org.

Exceptional Research Award

We have launched the Effective Thesis Exceptional Research Award to encourage and recognize promising research by students that has the potential to significantly improve the world. To be eligible for the award, students need to focus their final thesis on some of our prioritised research directions and to succeed, their research must be of high quality, ideally making a novel contribution, and make as much progress as possible towards solving some problem described within our prioritised research directions. We place emphasis on how well the research questions were chosen and how well the work was done rather than the direct measurable impact of the written work. We aim to reward good work rather than good results, therefore we also welcome “failed attempts” (e.g. negative results, etc..), as long as they have been carefully conducted. This award has undergraduate and graduate tiers and the submission deadline is September 1st, 2022. You can read more and apply here.

PhD Funding

While some PhD programmes offer a stipend that covers students' tuition and living expenses, other programmes require them to attain funding independently. If you are doing an independent research project, you might also need funding to support yourself. We have collated the best advice on PhD funding we could find and created a database of PhD funding opportunities available for people focusing their PhD thesis on one of our prioritised research directions.


We have also noticed that students often benefit from connecting with other students, sharing their experiences, and getting a sense of not being alone on their path. Indeed, about 20 % of students referred in our feedback forms that expanding their network of people with similar research interests was the the thing they most benefited from Effective Thesis. We wanted to generate this kind of impact more explicitly. Therefore, we decided to create an online space - a community platform - where students can meet, get to know others working on similar research problems, share their experiences, etc… All students who apply for our coaching are automatically invited to the community and other can apply for access here


We are very happy to hear any feedback about our services and are also open to various types of collaborations. Please comment below or message david.janku@effectivethesis.org with feedback/collaboration suggestions. 

Get involved

There are various ways you can get involved with us besides applying for our coaching or other services if you are a student. Please reach out to us if you’re interested in any of the roles below!

Right now, we are most interested in people who could join our coaching team and opportunity search team as volunteers. Please see a more in-depth description of these roles below.

We will also be hosting an online live Q&A on Friday 26th of November at 9 CET and at 19 CET (Zoom link), so feel free to join and ask any questions you have on your mind. 

Join our coaching team

Our coaches are guides to students in their process of choosing a research topic. They help students reflect on and clarify which research direction is the best fit for them, offer useful resources for doing impactful research, and facilitate connections with other students and experts in their preferred research direction. For you as a coach, this would be a chance to create a long-term positive impact on students as well as the broader world, meet lots of motivated and talented students from all around the world, be in touch with experienced researchers internationally via connecting them to students, grow as a coach and develop your skillset through your coaching sessions, discussions with others and workshops/training and you will also become a part of a very friendly, international and supportive team. For more information see our role description here.

If you're interested in volunteering to coach our students we’d love to hear from you. Email vorathep.sachdev@effectivethesis.org for more information.

Join our opportunity search team

Our opportunity search volunteers scan the EA and academic ecosystems for opportunities relevant to students who use our services and add them to our database. It’s a growing service where you can deepen your knowledge of the EA and academic ecosystems, improve your knowledge of various impactful research directions, learn new skills (e.g. working with airtable, automations, advanced google search) and network within our international team, but also you can take ownership and shape the direction of the service. Current students are encouraged to apply as there are lots of cross-over benefits of this work with your personal search for your next opportunity. For more information see the role description here.

If you're interested in joining our opportunities search team, we’d love to hear from you. Email isobel.phillips@effectivethesis.org for more information on how to get involved.

Join our network of experts

Our experts provide valuable guidance to students interested in their field of research. An expert might offer feedback on a research proposal, have a one-off call with a student to discuss their ideas, or provide ongoing mentorship throughout the thesis-writing process — the role is very flexible and you can choose the level of commitment. Please get in touch if you’d like to join our network.

Supervise students or recommend supervisors

If you are potentially interested in supervising students working on one or more of our research directions, please let us know — we are always glad to hear of new supervisors. Likewise, if you’ve had a positive experience with a supervisor who you think would supervise students working on at least one of our research directions, you can let us know via the same form.

Contribute to our research profiles

If you have expertise related to any of the research profiles featured on our site and you're interested in helping to make them more detailed and up-to-date, please get in touch with sophie.kirkham@effectivethesis.org. We would be particularly interested in contributions to improving or creating the profiles listed here.

Let others know about us

If you know anyone who is deciding about their final thesis topics or PhD applications soon, please tell them about us and encourage them to visit our website!



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Thanks for this, really excited to see you expand! I particularly really like the new award. I think that recognition can be particularly useful for students seeking jobs or PhD positions, so it could help good students get better positions.

I'd personally like to see all good work get recognition, so I'd probably favour a plan to award everything that meets a sufficiently high standard, as opposed to just rewarding the best work.

With that said, you might well have a good reason to act differently.

I think that there are strong reasons to give awards to the 'best work' as well.

For example:

  • It will help EA research orgs with vetting
  • It will give 'top performing students' a strong reason to go for this, and for their universities to encourage it

Hi, amazing to see that Effective Thesis is expanding its services! 

Personally I think Effective Thesis could become one of the highest impact EA initiatives, since hundreds of thousands of theses and dissertations are written every year, and steering these towards pressing global problems seems to have very high expected value.

I may start an EA society at my university in the future, and I was wondering whether you actively collaborate with university EA societies to promote Effective Thesis to students, and the extent to which you do this?

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