The Jekyll theme that I’m currently using (Ed.) starts out with this line,
One of our most pressing and ever revolving needs as scholars is to pass on our textual artifacts from one generation to another.
That need is true for scholars in every field. A PhD student often spends about 4 years in a lab working on a series of projects that will hopefully result in a peer-reviewed publication. But the results that get published are only the end results, which specifically answer the research question that the researchers set out to investigate. Along the way, they might have tried quite a few approaches, some even replicating previous results, and some others addressing the specifics of the analyses methods used. And in my experience, they get lost in the lab journals of hundreds of PhDs and post-docs and profs. To try and not let that happen, and to record my initial journey in the academia, I’ve decided to give the idea of maintaining an e-journal a go.
(in the order of importance)
- easy to add to and edit
- mobile-friendly (responsive)
- portable (without manual effort)
Having just crossed the half-way point of my PhD contract (Sept, 2017), I’m now in a position to help out others who are probably looking for things that I once used to look for. Instead of crafting an email every time with loads of links, I figured I could make a document that’s regularly updated so that I can just point others to it and answer only the questions that follow.
Think of it as the Don’t Repeat Yourself (DRY) rule pushed to ridiculous levels.
DRY says that every piece of system knowledge should have one authoritative, unambiguous representation. Every piece of knowledge in the development of something should have a single representation.
- The Pragmatic Programmer, Andrew Hunt and David Thomas, 1999.
But the quote is from this interview
Every single time I wanted to make something like this journal, I was reminded of the “You aren’t gonna need it” principle from Extreme Programming, which only delayed the process. I’ve already talked/written to a few people about the exact same things and sometimes I find articles or blogposts that would add to my existing knowledge about a topic, but I won’t have a place for it. So, I diligently tag it in my bookmarks, hoping to find it someday when I need it. It took me a while to convince myself that this was a good idea. But now that I look back, it is so obvious.
Resources are for everyone
Some resources that I’ve collected - like about giving good presentations - are important for anyone in any field. Even though there exists hundreds of pages on the internet, I’d like to make a master-documentation of everything that’s worked for me. And share it.
Physical lab notebooks are not searchable