rewrite 80% of my physics grad students'M.S. theses. The main reason for this is that my students don't know doodley-squat about the subject matter. There are at least two reasons for this.
The first is that almost no physics majors, or grad students, take my general-ed, intro-astronomy class. I wish I could induce more of them to do so. It isn't a prerequisite for any of the other classes they take, though, and making it one would destroy enrollment in the upper-level courses on the subject they do take, including Observational Astronomy and Astrophysics. They do take these upper-level courses, which are heavy on the physics and math that most students in the general-ed, intro-astronomy course find terrifying. The worst problem is that, when the physics majors and grad students come to me to do research, the research requires fluent understanding of the basic principles, which are covered in the general-ed, intro-astronomy class. When physics majors and grad students do take the general-ed, intro-astronomy course, they often they act so bored, as if what we're doing is SO beneath them. Nevertheless, they emerge from this class STILL not knowing doodley-squat about what we do.
The second is that my physics majors and grad students have serious problems with reading. They either don't read the textbooks, reviews, and journal papers that I give them to read, and lie to me when they say they do, or they do and don't understand doodley-squat about them. I wish I could tell which.
I absolutely cannot bear to submit even only to the library the crappy, amateurish dreck my students with so few exceptions produce. One reason is that my name is on that dreck, even if I'm only signing off on it. Another is that there is some useful science in it, which I use to get other students going. If I'm starting a new student in research, often the first thing I'll have the student do is to read the M.S. thesis of the last student. It wouldn't do for it to be dreck: it might give the students the idea that dreck is OK, not to mention it's more scientifically useful if it isn't dreck. So I rewrite them: I really don't have much choice.
- Froderick Frankenstien from Fresno