Monday, August 23, 2010

Does my methods section have to match what I did?

Just fielded an emergency Skype from one of my thesis students. Normally he should have handed in in July, but there was a cock-up at the registrars and the lawyers decided everyone needed to be officially given more time.

So Joe is working on a bizarre, cutting-edge aspect of basket weaving, and had been slogging along. I would get a few pages to read that were full of incomplete sentences and misspelled words. I felt like an English teacher mumbling about agreement of subject and verb and the difference between "like" and "such as" as I marked up his pages in red, hoping that he'd at least use a spelling checker next time. Nope.

Anyway, the deadline is looming, and he's panicked. It seems he pre-wove the basket before he started just to make sure that this kind of basket was do-able. He's spent weeks laboring on the methods section on how to go about making this kind of basket using a particular methodology. He's just realized that he doesn't actually have time to make another basket using this methodology he's described, so can he just hand in the prototype basket with the methods section as it is?

I gently explained that there were two options:
  1. Re-weave to match the methods section
  2. Re-write to match the basket handed in
"But you won't really look at the basket, will you?" Honey, if I've been cleaning up your English these past weeks, you bet I'm going to be going over that basket with a magnifying glass.


  1. Who *are* these people? And how is it their schools let them get that far without flunking out?

    Jesus Christ, I won research/writing awards at my grad school and they still "ditched" me (read as: shoved me into Adjunct Hell) when I got too far past their (unreasonable) expected grad date.

  2. Suzy - you are by far the evilest professor on this site. How DARE you suggest that the methods and data sets match! How DARE you insist that this novel research be repeatable! How DARE you insist that it not only be repeatable, but be easily followed so the field can expand to include these new methodologies! Who wants that? Who wants to be relentlessly cited ad aeternam in the best peer-reviewed articles? Who wants the possible chance to patent a new protocol and use that money for further research? Who wants to be legit? What. The. Fuck. Are. You. Smoking. Suzy?!?!? And why do you share with my advisor? The nerve...

  3. @Meany, I clearly remember flunking Joe on Basket Engineering a few years ago. But every now and then we have adjuncts teach these courses, and they think we'll keep hiring them if there are no complaints from the students, so they usually give out at least a passing. I'm glad to hire adjuncts who are willing to fail clowns like this.

    @Beth, honey, I think your medicine is not working out well with the booze.


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