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The Nordic PhD

Surviving and Succeeding

Edited By Christopher McMaster, Caterina Murphy and Jakob Rosenkrantz de Lasson

The Nordic PhD: Surviving and Succeeding is an edited book written for prospective and current doctoral students by a mix of doctoral students and those who have recently completed their doctorates. The premise is simple: if you could go back in time and talk with yourself when you began your studies, what advice would you give? Isn’t hindsight a bonus? If only I knew then what I know now!

The Nordic PhD: Surviving and Succeeding follows editions focused on study in Aotearoa New Zealand, Australia, the U.K., U.S., and South Africa. What sets The Nordic PhD: Surviving and Succeeding apart from many others on the market is its down-to-earth and practical approach. Furthermore, its originality also lies in the fact that it is grounded in the context of doctoral studies in the Nordic countries.

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Chapter Two: Paper Is Power: The Art of Making Notes (Julian Geiger)


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Paper Is Power

The Art of Making Notes



Making notes is an everyday activity at universities. Even though writing things down might seem like a trivial task, the quality and usability of notes is extremely important. Not surprisingly, many students (including myself) have frequent thoughts like, ‘Oh, why did I not make a note of this?’ The value of putting pieces of information properly down and marking details systematically on a sheet of paper cannot be ignored by the doctoral student.

Paper is power. I first heard this magical phrase in a course about project work. At the time, it struck me as an abstract concept with no practical meaning. But a few months of study taught me otherwise. One of my favorite examples illustrating the impact of a few written lines comes from the TV-series The Big Bang Theory. Sheldon goes through journals he wrote as a child and explains to his roommate:

In 1964, Dr. Peter Higgs, accomplished self-promoter and physicist, wrote a paper postulating the existence of a subatomic particle called the Higgs boson. Now, initially the paper was rejected, but recently he was proven right, and now he’s on the fast track to win a Nobel prize. … The point is: Higgs is being celebrated for work he did 50 years ago, so that got me thinking, perhaps I’ve already hit upon...

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