Herman's 20 Laws for Graduate Students

Written by Irving P. Herman, in Nature 445, 228 (January 2007)

1. Your vacation begins after you defend your thesis.

2. In research, what matters is what is right, and not who is right.

3. In research and other matters, your adviser is always right, most of the time.

4. Act as if your adviser is always right, almost all the time.

5. If you think you are right and you are able to convince your adviser, your adviser will be very happy.

6. Your productivity varies as (effective productive time spentper day)1,000.

7. Your productivity also varies as 1/(your delay in analysing acquired data)1,000.

8. Take data today as if you know that your equipment will break tomorrow.

9. If you would be unhappy to lose your data, make a permanent back-up copy of them within five minutes of acquiring them.

10. Your adviser expects your productivity to be low initially and then to be above threshold after a year or so.

11. You must become a bigger expert in your thesis area than your adviser.

12. When you cooperate, your adviser's blood pressure will go down a bit.

13. When you don't cooperate, your adviser's blood pressure either goes up a bit or it goes down to zero.

14. Usually, only when you can publish your results are they good enough to be part of your thesis.

15. The higher the quality, first, and quantity, second, of your publishable work, the better your thesis.

16. Remember, it's your thesis. You (!) need to do it.

17. Your adviser wants you to become famous, so that he/she can finally become famous.

18. Your adviser wants to write the best letter of recommendation for you that is possible.

19. Whatever is best for you is best for your adviser.

20. Whatever is best for your adviser is best for you.