PhD thesis summaries for the social-media era

Macaca nigra self-portraitIt is a bank holiday weekend, and our brains need a rest, and maybe some fun. So try Theses are long, PhD theses are often around 200 pages in physics — hard and time-consuming to write, sometimes quite hard to read. is where students boil down their master works into a single, hopefully amusing and illuminating line.

Some of them are just great. The front page features the most recent ones, which changes constantly, but at the moment we have: “Turns out society is screwed without fossil fuels”, which is good to know, and “Sometimes when people don’t say things, they don’t say things differently”, which sounds deep.

A lot of research is being done all over the world, and nobody can keep up with it all, but a lot of this is done by students and so ends up in theses. Maybe is a way to keep uptodate on modern research findings in handy summary forms.

For students writing theses it may also be a useful to thing to ask yourself what a one-line snappy, jargon-free, summary of your key findings would be. When you are writing it can be easy to get stuck in the details, and forget about the big picture. But any reader will want to get the big picture as well as be given the details.

Changing the subject: The picture above is nothing to do with I just used it ‘cos I can. A US court has ruled that since the female macaque above took the picture above herself, it can’t be copyrighted, so we are free to use it. Although to be fair, the photographer David Slater, whose camera the macaque borrowed should get credit for providing the camera.

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