Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Tips for despairing grad students

Tip #3: Find a well-respected piece of literature in your field. Burn it. I mean— read a few pages to yourself, stopping every sentence to put yourself into the character of your advisor and make scornful comments about the writing style, subject matter, logic and quality of evidence in the work. I find it's extra helpful if you can do this aloud in a good imitation of your advisor's voice.

After a while you'll find it remarkably easy to tear even fundamental works of your field to shreds, which should help you realise that no matter how good your own thesis is, it would still attract derisive comments constructive criticism from people whose job it is to look for flaws. (Or, you know, it might make you wish you'd gone into a field founded on more plausible and better-argued theories.)

Note: this strategy is most effective straight after a meeting in which your advisor returns a chapter draft covered in red pen.

(Tips #1 and #2 can be found here and here respectively.)


Anastasia said...

i like this. dr. mentor is amazingly adept at tearing even the most accomplished (published) work to absolute shreds. that's good for me to remember. I'd suck at doing her voice, though.

RageyOne said...

Sounds like a great plan!

Horace said...

My advisor was really fun to imitate, even though he rarely tore up my work (or anyone's for that matter). I am not sure whether to look forward to or dread the day when I am the subject of my grad students' impressions