The goal of the first days as a PhD student is to get ready as soon as possible to do your research. Get rid of all the formalities, learn the research basics, discover your new field of research. Some of the best things you could do in the initial days are:
- Papers appearing in the top conferences (not necessarily journals) in your field over the past 2-3 years.
- Look at the best papers in those conferences
- Look for taste in research, taste in presentation style, amount of work that it takes to have a best-paper award
- Theses of the ACM Doctoral Dissertation Award winners and honorable mentions over the last 2-3 years.
- Your advisor’s thesis
- Helps you to understand how much “work” your advisor will expect
- Ask your advisor what he/she is proudest of and what he/she would do differently, if given a chance to re-write the dissertation
- The theses and recent papers of your committee members
- This will help you to understand their outlook on publication and writing