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How a PhD is like The Big Bang Theory


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How to write academically or How a PhD is like The Big Bang Theory. Start as Penny, draft as Leonard, publish as Sheldon. A gross oversimplification of academic writing, but a handy reminder.

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How a PhD is like The Big Bang Theory

  1. 1. How to write academically or How a PhD is like Jodie Martin
  2. 2. You start off thinking and talkinglike Penny.You know what you know, youhave a vague idea of what youdon’t know, but you’re okay withthat.
  3. 3. All PhD students sound (andfrequently look) like Sheldon to youand you think if you get a PhD thenthat’s what you’ll sound like, thoughyou swear never to wear plaidtrousers.
  4. 4. Then you start to learn things butyou also learn how much you don’tknow. So you start talking likeLeonard. Every statement comesout as a question. And you can’twrite a single sentence withoutadding “possibly” or “could beargued”.
  5. 5. The problem is every academicarticle and thesis reads as if it iswritten by Sheldon – confident,immovable and completelyconvinced of its own genius.
  6. 6. But in reality a lot of us are justLeonard mimicking Sheldon.
  7. 7. So the key to write academically is very simple.
  8. 8. Step 1: Write like Leonard speaks.Include “arguably”, “potentially”and “theoretically” if it makes youfeel better.
  9. 9. Step 2: Take out the phrasesLeonard had you add: “debatably”,“it is possible” and “it might beseen”. Pretend you are Sheldon. Beconvincing and confident. Butdon’t wear plaid trousers.
  10. 10. The End. Jodie Martin