Clicky

Select Page
Home » Discover Rackham » Grad Theories

Artem’s post got me thinking about the many truths of grad school. There are, I believe, a few more that he might have missed in favour of thinking about the Bahamas. So I decided to be rebellious and do everything my Ph.D. education is supposed to teach me not to do–generalize, ignore the nuances, and embrace any biases or confounding.

Theorem 1: The amount of work-related happiness and the amount of happiness derived from life outside of work a grad student has are inversely proportional.

happiness graph

Happiness graph.

Corollary 1: At any given instant in time, a grad student is never completely happy. You can’t have it all, you bottom-of-the-food-chain struggler.

Corollary 2: Work-life balance for grad students only exists when measured over long time scales, usually over months.

I’ve heard grad students say that when work isn’t going well, their hobbies flourish. It’s when work doesn’t go well that most of us grad students realise we have nothing else going on that can help take our minds off it. And thus begins our rediscovery of creativity, exercise and play. Which, of course, promptly disappears upon the arrival of the next phase of productivity.

Theorem 2: The number of papers read (Nr) is related to the number of papers printed (Np) by a factor of alpha

Nr = ∝ Np
where ∝ < = 0.9

printed versus read papers graph

Printed versus read papers graph.

Under the boundary conditions of preliminary examinations, committee meetings, or Ph.D. defenses, ∝ can come close to, but never reach 1.

Corollary: Grad students are bad for the environment.

Our desire to read papers and keep up with the literature often (usually?) exceeds our motivation to do it. There’s always interesting research going on, but what is one to do when one has to choose between Rowling’s Silkworm and a PNAS paper?

Moral: Remember to attend journal club!