When I completed my Honours thesis in 2009, my ‘sister-in-law’ advised me to keep a journal as a way of tracking my progress, taking random notes, brainstorming ideas, and so on. I tried this time around (with my Masters thesis) to keep an online journal, but it soon floundered. I found myself constrained by the virtual environment – plus, it was clearly failing at indulging my love of stationery!
My Thesis Journal
Cover (with the starting date for this particular notebook)
After forking out $2 for a composition board notebook* at my local Officeworks (and beginning to feel a
little lot like Harriet the Spy) I pre-numbered every page in the book. I also created a grid-style table of contents (which needs updating and rejigging, now I’m a little further on in the process) to keep track of what was where in my journal. I find pre-numbering all of the pages keeps me from tearing out pages that aren’t so ‘perfect,’ thus allowing me to keep a consistent record of my progress, ideas, and notes.
Inside front cover (‘reward’ notice & thesis overview) | Table of Contents
The first pages I have glued in a print-out of my original, online journal
Consistency is also maintained by (trying) not to use white-out in the journal – crossing things out means I can still re-read what was written underneath.
Some things are glued into my journal, including some readings, emails from my supervisor, all of my mind maps, notes from web browsing, etc.:
Some daily notes and print outs from an NGV annual report
Daily notes and supervisor emails
Mindmapping my thesis topic/statement
I find it easier doing this by hand on blank A4 paper
Notes from web browsing (to do with note taking haha)
I keep blank scrap paper at the back of the notebook to scribble quick ideas on (like ‘capture’ pages). I also have an A5 sleeve (page protector) in which I stash random print outs, notes, etc:
Using a notebook/journal as part of the process of creating my Masters thesis allows me a lot of flexibility as to where and when I can fit in some nerd time. When I purchased this notebook, I made sure it would fit in the majority of bags I use which allows me to take it everywhere (including places I can’t easily use my laptop or access the internet).
Writing in my journal at Muffin Break while waiting for Dan to finish work
- What does your PhD notebook look like?
- The Notebook Method: How Pen and Paper Can Transform You Into a Star Student
- Why you should keep a PhD notebook
* I have never seen composition board books in Australia and have always wanted one. Unfortunately, it looks like Officeworks have sold out in store and you don’t get to choose the design/style on the website.