dear buggy April 2008

Dear Buggy

I’m a new graduate student studying the mating behaviour of Grylloblattids. Before going to the field I purchased a new laptop which just about tapped out my bank account until I get my first stipend this Fall. The computer is great, but it didn’t come with the software I need to do my research. I don’t want to use pirated software but I don’t know what to do, any advice?

Word-less in Wawa

Well Word-less that’s quite the dilemma you’re facing. A quite serviceable laptop can be had for between $600 and $800 but the software your typical graduate student needs can quadruple that price. Unfortunately, this is a cost that most students (and some supervisors) fail to take into account when purchasing a new computer. To give you an idea, a typical graduate student can expect to need software for word processing, storing, managing and analyzing data, other software is needed to prepare publication quality graphs, images and figures. Word processing and presentation software is needed to write manuscripts, and design your presentations and posters. In addition many students use software to manage references and produce bibliographies and others require software for specialized analyses (e.g. genetics or GIS). As you would expect there is no magic graduate student all-in-one combo software suite to do this (but wow isn’t there a business opportunity!). To buy the various commercial software that would allow you do your research could run upwards of $4500. Ouch. So, besides downloading a file-sharing program, strapping on an eye patch and becoming a full-fledged software pirate what’s a grad student to do?

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