50 Rules for Postgrads

This list was originally published as a humorous article in the UWA Postgraduate Student Association’s year book PostscriptIt was inspired by the famous (infamous?) Skippy List. I have only done some of the things on the list, I’m not going to say which ones though…

50 things today’s postgrad is no longer allowed to do at university

  1. Not allowed to imply that senior professors’ careers pre-date the discovery of the atom.
  2. Not allowed to tell prospective students that “PhD” stands for any of the following:
    – Parents have Doubts
    – Probably half Dead
    – Project half Done
    – Permanent head Damage
    – Potential heavy Drinker
    – Probably hopelessly Deranged
  3. No longer allowed to perform experiments on undergrads (even if rats are expensive and you grow attached to them).
  4. Must stop telling new students that the Reid Library was actually a spelling error and everyone is too embarrassed to change it.
  5. It is considered very unprofessional to add “in accordance with the prophecy” to the end of answers I give to questions when presenting at a conference.
  6. “It is easier to beg forgiveness than ask permission” does not apply to getting ethics approval for an experiment.
  7. The large rolls of aluminium foil in the lab are for experiments, not for making tinfoil hats to block government mind-probes, and I should stop telling students this.
  8. No longer allowed to set joke questions in exams.
  9. No longer allowed to create obvious patterns in the multi-choice exam answers
  10. No longer allowed create an obvious pattern in the multi-choice answers for the first half of an exam, and then break that pattern in the last half to watch the students freak out (even if it would be hilarious).
  11. Not allowed to attempt to purchase anyone’s soul using grant money.
  12. When giving a reason for the failure of an experiment I must put forward a reasonable hypothesis, not:
    – God
    – Gods
    – Witches
    – Gnomes (there is no physics, it’s all gnomes)
  13. Not allowed to sacrifice a chicken (or goat, suckling calf, mule, or virgin) to Odin so that He may look favourably upon my work (even if virgins are easy to come by in the physics department).
  14. When visiting German colleagues, don’t mention the war.
  15. Laser safety briefings must contain more than “Don’t stare into laser beam with remaining good eye.”
  16. Drug running and prostitution are not acceptable ways to raise research funding.
  17. Not allowed to ask “Do you want fries with that?” when given instructions by supervisors.
  18. Must stop trying to hide Dr Seuss quotes in paper manuscripts.
  19. Not allowed to turn my office into a ball pit…
    Not allowed to turn anyone else’s office into a ball pit…
    Plastic balls are no longer allowed on campus.
  20. Despite the fact that people with a PhD are called “doctor”, they are not allowed to prescribe any form of medication.
  21. When asked to attend a meeting in formal attire, I am not allowed to turn up in jeans and hoodie claiming that it is “the cultural dress of my people”.
  22. Not allowed to wear costumes in the lab unless it is Prosh.
  23. Office decorations must be limited and practical. I am not allowed to fill the room with inflatable novelties. (And not allowed to try and convince anyone that the Kiwi PhD student owns the inflatable sheep.)
  24. When asked to “give a few words” to new postgrads, I am to assume that I should say more than a “few” words. (“Run you fools!” is also inappropriate.)
  25. The correct course of action for an asphyxiating gas leak is not “hold my breath and hope for the best.”
  26. Crucifixes do not ward off supervisors.
  27. Stop sticking large googly eyes on laboratory equipment.
  28. Not allowed to make liqueurs out of lab-grade ethanol.
  29. No drinking in the lab.
  30. No drinking in the office.
  31. No drinking while teaching.
  32. I may not trade laboratory equipment for any of the following:
    – cigarettes
    – booze
    – sexual favours
    – bootleg DVDs
    – magic beans
  33. Using an old Smirnoff vodka bottle as a water bottle and taking large, regular gulps is disturbing and I should not do it around new students or while teaching.
  34. Putting red skittles in a prescription medicine bottle and swallowing regular handfuls while teaching is not appropriate.
  35. I should not taunt humanities students just because they are doing “easy” subjects.
  36. No longer allowed to scare international visitors with tales of how dangerous Australian fauna is (even if it’s true).
  37. “No drinking of alcohol” is not a challenge to find other ways to imbibe.
  38. Correct technical terms are to be used when teaching or preparing manuscripts. “Thingy”, “doohickey”, and “piece of shit” are not appropriate terms.
  39. I must stop sending new students to the lab supply stores to ask for things that don’t exist.
  40. Stop telling new students that Petri dish agar is edible (even though it is).
  41. Wearing shorts under a lab-coat is disturbing because it looks like I am not wearing pants.
  42. Do not replace the coffee in the lab coffee machine with decaf “to see what happens”.
  43. No cooking in the lab.
  44. Lab safety inductions do not need to begin with the “Safety Dance” song.
  45. “To conquer the Earth with an army of flying monkeys” is not an appropriate response to being asked “what is this research for?” during a media interview.
  46. Do not suggest to a colleague who has just had twins to name them “Alex, and the control.”
  47. Beers are not to be stored in the specimen fridge. (Beers do not count as specimens.)
  48. Magic eight-balls are not to be consulted for experimental procedures.
  49. Student plagiarism is to be referred to the Head of School, not resolved “at dawn, on the field of honour.”
  50. I am not allowed to start a betting pool on how long before the PSA president finally snaps and actually goes insane.

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