How to be a successful PhD student

Diagram of the gown, hood and bonnet used in g...
Diagram of the gown, hood and bonnet used in graduation/presentation ceremonies of Ph.Ds. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The answer is buy a soft backed note book.

Well, there is a bit of presumption going on here. I am not a successful PhD student as ultimately that is a binary thing: a successful PhD student is one who gets the doctorate. I have not even begun an experiment yet.

But I do feel like I am making progress like never before because of the soft-backed notebooks in my life.

To explain further I will use an analogy. When you are expecting your first child everyone says “it will change your life”. It is said so frequently it becomes boring and you think, every time you are told it – “as if I didn’t know”.

But when you have your first child you realise very quickly  just why everyone said that same thing to you – because it will change your life. They didn’t tell you enough of how deep and fundamental that change is.

So when you start your PhD everyone says “takes notes as you go along” and you think “of course”. But you don’t do it properly. You mix your notes up with everything else in this or that notebook and then months later you come back and think “what does that paper say again – these notes are a mess”.

And then you realise that you must have the notebook with you every time you read a paper and that notebook is your most important possession. And then you start to get it right…

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