header image

Suggestions page

We are writing a "postgrad advice" book that will cover all aspects of what it takes to do well and make the most out of your time as a postgraduate student. The book is aimed at people thinking about graduate school, already in graduate school, or recently finished. We are scientists but the book will be aimed at a broad audience.

About half of the book will be in the form of straight-talking advice and the other half will be in the form of a comic strip.  We are after fun or funny ideas for the comics.  The comics will be 6 panels long and with a cast that includes supervisors, students, postdocs, etc.  You can give us ideas in any form you like.  You can draw out a rough cartoon, with text, and then send us a PDF or you can simply write out an idea or story and send us that.

Here's an example of what your ideas can end up looking like - we drew this page from an idea provided by PhD students at the RSB retreat.

Comic based on ideas from PhD candidates at the Research School of Biology PhD Retreat

You can contact ewalsh.sci@gmail.com with your ideas.

If you want to share your ideas via .PDF, image or other file, you can upload it here.


... Or, you can leave a comment in the guestbook at the bottom of the page to tell us your story in text form.

People's uploaded suggestions: click the thumbnails to view the full image.

Posted by RSB PhD student retreat on
This is about time management.

Panel 1: student walks in, and the supervisor is waiting for them, saying something like “Let’s talk about time management”. Then, each panel is in a different setting. They’re still discussing time management, but what’s going on is contradicting what the supervisor says. It could be any number of different things. Here’s some examples.
“You always have to be meeting your deadlines” (busting into a lecture theatre, and the supervisor is teaching, but they’re late for their own lecture)
“Have work/life balance” (they’re at the dinner table, with the supervisor’s family, talking about work/life balance)
“Learn to say no” (there are heaps of people trying to bust in on the conversation and get stuff done)
“And it’s really helpful to keep a diary” (the supervisor’s diary could just be this massive mess of post-it notes and pages). At the end the supervisor could ask “So, when are you submitting again?” and trying to find things in the calendar.
Posted by RSB PhD student retreat on
“Do as I say, not as I do”. A group of students are talking to a later year student, who is giving them advice. He advises they try to maintain a work life balance, but that weekend at 4am on Saturday night he is working instead of sleeping. He advises they use good time management, and avoid procrastination, but later that day he’s watching cat videos instead of working.
Posted by Over-prepper on
Picture a student who always over-prepared for talks. She hadn’t overcome her undergraduate habit of spending hours memorising things almost word-for-word, polishing slides that were objectively fine. Maybe a series of panels of practising the same talk, day/night showing out window.

She received an email about an international conference, and there's a speaker she really wants to see (facial expressions show this?). Say something like "Oh, this would be my first one!"

To hedge her bets she submits both a poster and a talk.

She gets an acceptance email for the poster. Cue FAR too much time spent making a poster, as was her habit).

She's at the conference, sleepy, sticks up her poster and goes to the anticipated talk. That evening, she looks at the conference program.

Her name is there, on a talk for the next morning. Realisation dawned her talk had been accepted. There's a thought bubble of all her cleaned data and analyses were back home on her office PC, out of reach.

... suspense as she desperately writes talk in hotel lobby, coffee keeping her awake...

The next morning, she gave her presentation to a reasonably sized audience, who received it well.

Lesson: A talk prepared in an overtired fugue in a hotel lobby on a tablet with R and OpenOffice installed seemed to have done just as well as if it were prepared weeks in advance and regularly practised. A good talk doesn't come from hours spent scripting – it comes from knowing the topic and thinking about what the audience wants to know.
Posted by Leon on
Types of supervisor? I had one who liked to practice "management by walking around" as espoused by the bosses at Hewlett Packard (remember them?) I can imagine a good cartoon of student and supervisor walking around a building always on opposite sides as student tries to keep away from supervisor - or vice versa perhaps.
Can also imagine panel with student/staff hiding under a desk/bench to give the impression that nobody is in the room, but with their laptop... "oh yes, it's a comfy place to work, you know."

Maybe also something on the subject of work you actually need to put a lot of effort into, versus work you make for yourself that you don't really need to put much effort into but it feels like you do at the time. This is a good intervention point for supervisors, but can be hard for the supe to see if the student can't identify the issue.
Posted by Cynical on
4 panels:
1. Student and supervisor in supervisor's office - student is pitching an idea to their supervisor. Student is excited, supervisor is playing it cool.
2. Supervisor shoots down the idea - says it rubbish, boring, student is crushed

3. The following meeting between the student and supervisor in the supervisor's office. It could be the next day, the next week etc.
Supervisor delivers with much gusto - "I know you have been struggling, so I have come up with a brilliant idea for you

4. Supervisor parrots back the exact same idea the student presented in the previous meeting...
Leave a Reply

(Your email will not be publicly displayed.)

Captcha Code

Click the image to see another captcha.

Links you may be interested in:

The Keogh Lab website

PhD advice from the upcoming book's author

Art from the upcoming book's illustrator


Comments / questions / queries should be directed to ewalsh.sci@gmail.com

Content on this page may be used by S. Keogh and E. Walsh for the generation of material of their PhD book. Contributors will be acknowledged in any final publications resulting from these ideas.