- Paperback: 339 pages
- Publisher: Springer; 1st ed. 2017 edition (July 3, 2017)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 331959320X
- ISBN-13: 978-3319593203
- Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.8 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 8 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #144,722 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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You Must Be Very Intelligent: The PhD Delusion 1st ed. 2017 Edition
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From the Back Cover
You Must be Very Intelligent is the author’s account of studying for a PhD in a modern, successful university. Part-memoir and part-exposé, this book is highly entertaining and unusually revealing about the dubious morality and desperate behaviour which underpins competition in twenty-first century academia.
When Karin enters a high-ranked university to start her PhD she is brimming with hope and positively overflowing with grit determination to prove she is worthy. After all, she knows that only the extraordinarily learned and the astonishingly intelligent ever hold chairs and professorships... She knows researchers are idealists yearning to enrich the stock of human knowledge… She knows university is the apotheosis of civilised culture… She knows… very little…
This witty, warts-and-all tale of postgrad life in the august University of Edinburgh will strike a chord in anyone who has ever aspired to life in the ivory tower. It is a warm-hearted story of disillusionment, wherein passion and innocence are merrily bludgeoned by big egos, ludicrous farce, tawdry corruption, pimped-out brains and the sheer unreality of trying to be a grown-up in a brat’s world…
This is Karin’s humorous story, but it is also the tragic story of the modern European university system; where money and power are the amoral Gods, and the noble search for truth quietly atrophies.
About the Author
I was born April, 1983, in a small village in the economically dead North East of the Netherlands. As a child I mainly caught frogs and leapt over ditches. When life became meaningful (though not necessarily better), I dreamt about travelling the world as a field biologist.
At the age of seventeen, I swapped village life for a university town 20 miles up the road. I matriculated at the University of Groningen and studied biology. One of the first-year courses entailed sitting for hours in dreary drizzle to watch geese pick grass. Unfortunately, I felt slightly bored and wet and steered my studies towards microbiology which, thankfully, entailed a roof over my head during experiments. Six amiable years later, blurred by pub visits and lengthy ‘work’ sojourns in China and Spain, I graduated with an MSc in molecular biology and was increasingly gripped by science.
Having acquired a taste for travel and cultural enrichment, and perhaps a bizarre yearning to return to drizzle, I moved to the wonderful, historic city of Edinburgh, capital of Scotland, to start my PhD. Despite a ludicrous intake of Irn Bru (a chemical drink unique to Scotland) along with mountainous amounts of fried pizza and dubious frat-ish parties, I successfully defended my thesis in 2011.
Feeling like a lost soul, I backpacked round South America, not knowing what would or should come next. But something had to, because I ran out of money, so I started my first ‘real’ job, at the Ludwig-Maximilians-University in Munich. Having re-stocked my pocket, and feeling sufficiently proficient in the academic world, I quit a year later. In 2012, I co-founded the company NaturalScience.Careers. In 2015, I published my first book (a career guide for female natural scientists). <
These days, I give soft skill and career seminars to young scientists, and I’m often invited to speak at natural science events. I write short stories, career columns and opinion pieces for magazines like Chemistry World, Naturejobs, Laborjournal and Nachrichen aus der Chemie. With my partner Philipp and our two sons, I live in Munich, where I spend much time wondering what to do next.
You can find me on Facebook and LinkedIn.
Top customer reviews
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My favorite aspect of the book was how she explored the personal aspects of the characters lives outside the university. Graduate school can be very intense, and I often felt pressure to sacrifice my non-professional interests in lieu of my career aspirations. Reading about the real human characters in Karin’s novel, with relationships and interests they fostered outside the lab, was a refreshing and encouraging experience.
You should read this book if you are considering pursuing PhD, so that you do not enter the position with rose-colored glasses but rather make a conscious and careful choice. If you have passed through grad school, this book could be both a reminder that you are not alone going through challenges, but also that you might be luckier than others. Finally, if you supervise students, this book can be a great guide on which mistakes not to make.
Karin Bodewits’ novel takes the reader on a journey through a three-year-long PhD experience at the University of Edinburgh. I was immediately drawn into a nuanced and well-crafted story that engages with a multitude of themes of PhD life, such as a young scientist’s academic ambitions, personal struggles with friends, family and motivational issues, and insights in the often rusty university structures and codes of conduct of modern day research.
Many passages of Bodewits’ prose are beautiful and overly well written. The author doesn’t shy away from shedding light on to the most delicate parts of everyday realities of a PhD experience. These include themes such as a troubled relationship to a PhD supervisor, the international inflation of PhD students, or the highly competitive and at times very obscure procedures of getting an academic paper published in a high ranking journal.
Bodewits’ novel is a glimpse into the ivory tower of modern day academia with all of its potentials, pits and falls. This is a book for anyone interested in the everyday life of science, higher education, and the PhD experience. But it is, beyond that, also a book for anyone looking for a heartwarming young-adult story.
But seriously, it's a very funny, honest and thought-provoking memoir of the ups and downs of PhD student life. While not an academic myself, the book really sucked me in and was fun ride.