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This is a question Starting something you couldn't finish

Finnbar says: I used to know a guy who tattooed LOVE across his left knuckles, but didn't tattoo HATE on the other knuckles because he was right-handed and realised he couldn't finish. Ever run out of skills or inspiration halfway through a job?

(, Thu 24 Jun 2010, 12:32)
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How (not) to write an academic paper
1. Have an idea or hypothesis that generates an interesting and/ or provocative claim.
2. Get quite excited about idea.
3. Decide to write paper
4. Spend weekend sketching rough first draft of conclusion, introduction, and structure of intervening argument.

At this stage, there're several routes things might take.
5. Realise that initial idea was flawed.
6. Ditch paper, writing off weekend.
7. Realise that there's a way to rescue the idea.
8. Realise that it'll take a lot of work, and be a bit boring both to write and read.
9. Give up.
10. Get bogged down in admin and marking anyway.

Alternatively:
5'. Begin gathering evidence to support the intervening argument.
6'. Get bored.
7'. Give up.
8'. Get bogged down in admin and marking anyway.

Or:
5''. Begin gathering evidence to support the intervening argument.
6''. Realise that someone made a tolerably similar point already and that it was published last month.
7''. Give up.
8''. Get bogged down in admin and marking anyway.

Or:
5'''. Begin gathering evidence to support the intervening argument.
6'''. Realise that the basic argument - while still looking basically sound - will require the incorporation of arguments from an area outside of own expertise (and comfort zone) that just looks hard - and certainly not worth the effort for one measly paper.
7'''. Give up.
8'''. Get bogged down in admin and marking anyway.


EDIT: I'd just like to make clear that this is never what happens to me. All my papers are brilliant, from inception to publication. In no way do I have seven or eight half-written and mothballed attempts on various topics clogging up my USB. No, no, no. Not I. Honest.
(, Thu 24 Jun 2010, 13:44, closed)
Yours is how to write an academic paper in the Arts and Humanities.
How to write an academic paper in science goes like this:

1. Have hypothesis.
2. Do the experiment.
3. If null hypothesis is rejected, write it up (NB: do not use adverbs).
(, Thu 24 Jun 2010, 14:24, closed)
or
1. have hypothesis
2. do the experiment
3. repeat the experiment and get statistically significant differences in the results
4. repeat the experiment in the forlorn hope that the cells will at least pretend to behave the same way as one of the previous attempts.
4a. do 4 again until it works
5. re think the hypothesis.
6. write a paper and submit it to the least discerning journal you can find
7. realise the organism you're working on is a bastard and you've just wasted 4 years of your life.
(, Thu 24 Jun 2010, 16:09, closed)
Mutatis mutandis...
... that describes my PhD thesis. Beyond repolishing it to publish as a completely pointless monograph, I've not touched a thing I tried to do in it since submitting.

It was a means to get me the degree - nothing more. Nearly four years, several thousand pounds in fees, 80k words - plus several comparable earlier-but-junked drafts... and I've STILL never been able to use "Dr" successfully to get an airline upgrade.


Yes, I know that, strictly speaking, a PhD doesn't entitle you to call yourself "Dr" in a non-academic setting. Screw it. I don't care.
(, Thu 24 Jun 2010, 16:26, closed)
yes it does
I'm Dr now in all settings. bedroom included.
(, Thu 24 Jun 2010, 17:01, closed)
Yes it does.
It's being an MD that doesn't allow you to call yourself a doctor in none work settings, as it's an honorary title.

I've been upgrdaded once in 12 years for that. Bah.
(, Fri 25 Jun 2010, 9:10, closed)
Other way around.
It's honorary titles that carry outside - things like (mnedical) Dr, knighthoods, and so on.

The stuff for which you work doesn't. But, like I said, I'm past caring now...
(, Fri 25 Jun 2010, 13:11, closed)
Bollocks to your last point
I have 'Dr' on my credit cards and chequebook and lots of other places too, and I haven't worked in an academic setting since I got my doctorate. I always get better treatment.

Haven't yet tried it on an airline, admittedly, but the fawning that people produce when they realise you're a bit 'special' (not in that sense) is worth it.

As you say, screw it. I worked hard for that PhD. Actually, I mostly fucked around playing croquet and Civilization, but I must have put in a good... oh, two hours a day for six months and that was enough. But mine was in an arts subject, so you could pretty much just write your name and still get a doctorate.
(, Wed 30 Jun 2010, 8:51, closed)
I first read Point 7 as
"Release the organism"

Which would be a great line to hear in a trailer for a horror film.
(, Mon 28 Jun 2010, 9:13, closed)
experiment? experiment?
... not sodding likely, I'm a theorist.

1. have idea
2. do calculation of dubious mathematical validity and/or dodgy simulation(s)
3a. give up, goto 1
3b. make calculations rigorous and/or do proper simulations, goto 4
4. write text
5. submit paper

No wait, I've missed out a step. Must add remark on "end of contract-itis", and Geoff rewriting the intro (again). brb.
(, Thu 24 Jun 2010, 16:17, closed)
A null hypothesis...
... ah, if only.

I suppose that you could write a paper along the lines of, "Well, claim P would seem to have a certain prima facie plausibility, on the basis of a, b and c. But it doesn't after all, becasue of x, y and z."

But then, unless you've got evidence that someone sane actually does think that P, it'd seem just to be verbiage - and any reviewer worth their salt'd reject it quickly and brutally.
(, Thu 24 Jun 2010, 16:33, closed)
You can see why STEM subjects get all the funding.

(, Thu 24 Jun 2010, 17:16, closed)
Sore point, that.
I've just had to defer my research leave for six months.

On the upside, this means it's now in the spring/ summer, with a possible autumn/ winter extension, rather than autumn/ winter with possible spring/ summer... but all the same...
(, Thu 24 Jun 2010, 18:36, closed)
In all honesty, it's a hell of a lot easier - not to mention a lot more fun -
to simply hold strong opinions on things you know nothing about.

Try starting with claiming you've just been to see, and opinining that the remake of that classic film is better than the original - you'll be shocked to find out how many other people join in.
(, Thu 24 Jun 2010, 15:43, closed)
Ahhh... I see you're familiar with film studies...

(, Thu 24 Jun 2010, 15:59, closed)
Totally
My "best" paper (i.e. journal with the highest impact factor and most citations etc) is a review I wrote on a topic I know next to nothing about :)
(, Sat 26 Jun 2010, 4:56, closed)
The formula for tha paper I'm currently "writing"
1. show up after the experiments have been planned and started
2. whine to self about how I wouldn't have planned it that way
3. tell person doing the experiments to redo them
4. tell person doing the experiments to redo them again, but this time _my way_
5. discuss writing a paper on it with Boss1
6. get told by Boss2 not to waste my time on it
7. get told by Boss1 to start writing
8. get told by Boss2 it's not worth the effort, but if I really want to just don't "waste too much time"
9. think about what I might actually be able to write
10. tell person doing the experiments to do a heap more because otherwise it's not publishable
11. forget about it for a month and concentrate on things Boss2 wants me to do
12. get asked by Boss1 where I'm up to and blame lack of progress on the person doing the experiments
13. forget about it again...
(, Sat 26 Jun 2010, 5:01, closed)

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