Sometimes we all need a perspective check in life. I recently found myself needing one, facing all the pressure of finishing, I was experiencing paralysis and unable to accomplish anything.  I have read articles like this one  and another here ( there is a lot more you can a find with a google search on PhD and perfectionism). I have even  parroted to my colleagues “nobody is ever going to read your thesis. It is probably just your examiners  and maybe, a tiny maybe, just your friends and family will read it too.  So don’t aim for perfection just write”  but I found myself caught in perfectionism. Then I remembered The Illustrated Guide to a Ph.D.  Matt Might, a professor in Computer Science at the University of Utah, created The Illustrated Guide to a Ph.D. to explain what a Ph.D. is to new and aspiring graduate students.

I am going to show a summary of it here check out his site for the whole guide. Starting out  with a circle representing all knowledge, the guide brings perspective to what the PhD impact will be.

This is the circle that contains all human knowledge that I imagine my work will to contribute to.

This is the tiny dent my revolutionary work is making to that big circle of human knowledge

BUT this is how the world looks from where I stand

Its always important to remember the bigger picture

[Matt has licensed the guide for sharing with special terms under the Creative Commons license.]


If anything is to bring perspective to PhDing, Matt Might hit it on the head. But of cause it is my life’s work and it pushes at the limits of knowledge.  In a way this is true of all of life. It is not in giant leaps that the world changes but in the small daring steps that may seem inconsequential today, that make tomorrow a better place


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1 Response to Perspective

  1. Pingback: Hindsight always has so much wisdom | Candid PhD Talk

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