Tuesday, 22 February 2011

It's a PhD, not a Nobel Prize

In reading a recent post about getting some perspective on submission on the thesis whisperer blog, today I came across this wonderful article by Gerry Mullins and Margaret Kiley called 'It's a PhD, not a Nobel Prize'. The 2002 article is based on semi-structured interviews with 30 experienced Australian thesis examiners. The study considered a variety of dimensions in the examination of a thesis, including why examiners thought they were invited to assess theses, how long they spent on the task, what they considered an outstanding thesis to be and the extent to which they considered the broader context of PhD candidature beyond the thesis.

The two pieces of advice I found most resonant from the research are that a) most examiners want to pass students; and b) most examiners think of the thesis as a stepping stone rather than a world changing masterpiece. With this advice on board, perhaps I can pull this beast out of the woods without too much drama. I suppose now I should go and work on my thesis rather than construct metaphors around it.

This isn't my thesis, it's just a course reader I put together recently with a smiley face on the front.

Sunday, 20 February 2011

into the fray: orientation + erotics

Alright! So tomorrow is the beginning of orientation week, which will be particularly busy for me as this year I'll be serving as the first year advisor for my School, helping all the firsties settle in and transition to the big U. This year will also be my first year as a full time member of staff, convening two courses, along with being the year I'm planning to submit my thesis. So... no biggie, right? I'm actually looking forward to 2011. I'm up for a challenge, so let's see what happens.

This week I also dropped in on the Erotics conference hosted by my research centre, the Griffith Centre for Cultural Research. It was a great few days filled with some excellent scholarship, a bit of fun and some new friends. Jack Halberstam's keynote on 'Going Gaga' was an absolute standout. Longest applause following a conference presentation I've ever seen. I've found myself recounting some of the arguments at parties and in conversations since then. There is an echo of it in this review, but damn: I wish I had recorded it!

The conference was seamless. Well done to my mate and idol, Jodie Taylor, who convened with a sharp sense of style and humour that only she is able to reproduce with what appears to be such little effort. Amongst many others, Fiona Patten from the Australian Sex Party was there, along with the delightful Alan McKee who reminded us of the importance of happy endings. On that note, adieu!

Alan McKee