Thursday, 6 January 2011

I do not work I just

do things. Yesterday's non-work involved two loads of washing, ironing, meals, bread making, answering 83 e-mails for people who do work and the leisurely proof-reading of a thesis that nearly put me to sleep.
The latter was very relaxing. I will not trouble you with the topic. Suffice to say it was intensely dull and badly written. It is worthy of a fail but standards are low enough for it to be passed - just.
I have read more than my fair share of doctoral theses. One or two have actually been interesting, some have had interesting moments, most have been dull and some intensely dull. Most of them have been badly written. Ability to do research and the ability to write do not necessarily go together. There is almost an unwritten rule that research must be written in the most turgid prose possible - along with the use of unnecessarily long words.
But, I must remember that reading these things is not work. (I am not sure what it is.)
What bothers me more is the subject matter of some of these things. Are they really adding to our knowledge of the world? Are they really about something important? Have people run out of sensible, useful things to research?
There also seems to be a notion that you must be able to find research about your research. You need to be able to show evidence of reading. You must be able to quote from the research which has gone before. Nothing else is acceptable until you reach post-doctoral level.
This is not exploration. It is treading paths which have already been trodden. It is nothing more than a quick step off to the side before darting back to the safety of the known. I was once told "Don't quote outside the set texts. I don't have time to read anything else."
I can understand why this is happening but it worries me.
I am glad I "do not work". It gives me the freedom to explore.


Rachel Fenton said...

I'm liking the freedom too. Interesting points, Cat.

Sheep Rustler said...

Many years ago I was working at the Melbourne University library and one of my jobs was to lend out (and supervise the reading of) theses from the library's closed collection. Even then it was a miracle to find one that covered a remotely useful in the broadest sense) or interesting research topic. And the few I skimmed through were turgid at best. I have subsequently read a number of books that were PhD theses turned into 'publishable books'. None of them were readable even though they had interesting subject matter. I think it is good if one can produce a PhD on a subject interesting enough to be turned into a book, but either it needs MASSIVE rewriting, or the thesis needs to have been better written in the first place.

Anonymous said...

Write a readable thesis? Someone might understand it! Research is intended to confuse.

Holly said...

Not work? that is like saying parents dont work? Those caring for elderly parents and households don't work. Or that work is only what society puts a monetary price on.

You work, a lot!