Friday, February 09, 2007

Lesson in what not to say to grad students

Me to my supervisor: "I keep wanting to completely restructure everything, but I know I have to draw the line somewhere and say, this is what I've got. It's the best I can do in the time I have."

Supervisor: "You're right. There's such a thing as being too much of a perfectionist."

Me: "Even if I'm not 100% happy with it, I know that's not the end of the world. I don't know any PhD who's entirely happy with what they handed in."

Supervisor: "Well I was! And [big name in field] probably was. Oh, and [other huge name in field who wrote a ground-breaking thesis still widely read 35 years on] always said she was pretty damn proud of hers."

Just in case I needed another completely unrealistic yardstick to measure myself against.


Ianqui said...

repeat over and over: The best thesis is a done thesis.

For the record, mine was a load of garbage.

wwwmama said...

supervisors are allowed to have moments where they're complete asses, i suppose. just remember that s/he's the ass, not you!

LaKisha said...

That was so mean! And thoughtless! And probably not true. I realize with my profs, sometimes they only remember the good things. Because they are on the other side now--and (since they are teaching us at good schools) have had quite a bit of success since their depressing days as a grad student. So they tend to remember the good and not the bad.

StyleyGeek said...

I don't think she was being consciously mean: she's not like that. But thoughtless, yes. And maybe she was also a little offended that I implied her own thesis had maybe not been totally perfect :) (And for the record, she has a right to be proud of her own, since it too is still a well-known and fundamental reference work in her area 30+ years after she wrote it.

And thanks, ianqui :)

Breena Ronan said...

LOL! I agree with wwwmama, sometimes professors just have foot in mouth moments. It would have been a lot more helpful to give an opinion on whether your diss could use restructuring or not.

ZaPaper said...

I just totally restructured my dissertation. I am not being a perfectionist: it just had to be done! But this is the last time, I swear. One of my good friends here says, "Your dissertation is not a book. It's something you have to get through so you can graduate." Amen.

Anonymous said...

I know I'm late to this party, but the only thing my advisor ever told me about hers was that she thought she was writing a book and she so wasn't and that her analysis was juvenile.

my own thoughts on skimming her dissertation? Damn, she knows a lot about slag.