Earning a PhD is something to be proud of. It represents years of hard work and an original contribution to science.

And yet, the main product of this labor is a very large, rather dull book that gathers dust on a bookshelf. You will never read it again, nor will your labmates or even your adviser. You’re lucky if anyone ever reads it again.

So for those of you that hate to waste paper, I’ve compiled a list of ten useful and/or fun things that you can do with a PhD thesis that will keep the dust at bay.

1. Remove everything except the Materials and Methods and the Table of Contents. Now you have a handy, indexed protocol book, and no-one needs to feel guilty for never reading the Results and Discussion.

2. Leave it casually on your coffee table to impress your (non-scientist) friends.

3. Use the text file to create a wordle.

4. Use it as a weight for capillary transfers of Northern/Southern blots.

5. Carefully balance it on your head while pipetting to improve your posture.

6. Use it as a code book for exchanging secret messages with your former adviser (since s/he is one of the few people to own a copy). Each word in the message is represented by three numbers that identify a word in your thesis: the page number, line number and the word number. For example, the message 6.6.9, 142.5.7 would tell my adviser that Yeast rule.

7. Create a blackout poem (like these) by using a black marker to strategically censor words. Your poem will probably have to be about science.

8. Carve out the pages to make a secret hollow book in which to store contraband.

9. Make it into an attractive thesis vase.

10. Keep it close at hand so you always have something to shake at undergraduates who challenge your authority.

If you have any ideas of your own, please share them in the comments!

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  1. Oooo, I’m going to try some black-out art with my superfluous thesis drafts – it felt too wasteful to throw them away.

    Near where I live there is a place called “Thesis Peak” (no joke, see link below) and we plan one day to hike up it to collectively burn our theses. I think it would be cathartic.


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