Tome Reader ©
Level 2: The Forms are in the Post
(Equipment: ideas, hope, some writing, a growing knowledge of your subject, support network, keyboard skills that are moving beyond using only one finger)
- Do not stress yourself over the many Tome ReaderTM forms. There is a large chance that whatever you write now, the whole project will have changed totally by the end. Keep a copy of any forms; it will amuse you later when you are in need of amusement. Do them, but try not to let them stress you out.
- Supervisors: Four legs good, two legs... no, sorry, that's something else entirely. Now then, listen up. Supervision is a professional relationship based on trust; it should not be a power trip for anyone, including you. Tome ReaderTM players can feel very emotionally vulnerable, particularly when playing Level 3 and above and things can go wrong, as they do with any relationship, professional or otherwise. Try to keep your head. The supervisor will be doing the same. They are meant to be professional support for you, after all. Plus, they want you to pass (for both generous and selfish reasons). Firstly, they want to work with you as you have good ideas. Secondly, if you get through it reflects well on them, too.
- Supervisors, again. What is their thesis/are their books like? Have they done a Ph.D.? Do they have any good/bad memories of going through the process themselves? Any information on these things will give you pointers as to the nature of the experience you will have in playing Tome ReaderTM.
- All supervisors are human (well, there are exceptions, but generally, this is the case). Sometimes they make mistakes, have disasters in their own lives etc. If you are very, very unlucky, however, you may get a supervisor who you later find you cannot work with. If this happens, do not give, or take, any abuse. Fight if you need to, but be professional, and do it officially if need be (Though that is a last resort. Hopefully negotiation will work). Standing in the street outside their house screaming for their head on a plate will not help. If all else fails, find someone else, if necessary somewhere else, for this role (if you can).
- When you have meetings with your supervisors, make notes and compare them with the official minutes. You may be surprised at how different they are. Keep both (stapled together) for use later (see Level 7). They will help you know where you have been and how your thinking has changed at the very least. They will provide a clear guide to the development of the thesis (in theory). It might also help to keep a diary and file of all e-mails. Note that I do not suggest taping phone calls in any circumstances, but see Level 3, No. 6.
- You do not have to do everything your supervisors suggest. It is likely that you will be thinking through several options at any one time if you have more than one supervisor. They are not trying to confuse you, but to encourage you to explore your field, to try out a range of activities or approaches, or to explore a number of possible avenues in thinking through what you might want to write in the thesis. Chances are they are working on strategies together, suggesting different routes to the same place, just to show that there are a number of ways of playing the game. How you play and the route you follow is up to you. Each suggestion, then, is a potentially useful one, but think it through before acting. However, if you want them to tell you what to do, then you are not yet fully engaged with Tome ReaderTM. It is your game, your work, your baby.
- You are a humanities student in this edition of Tome ReaderTM. This means that a lot of the Ph.D. student training, which is also aimed at science Ph.D. students, will not apply or be useful or relevant (but you will probably all get taught together). Check whether your attendance is compulsory. Then weep. Then pull yourself together and go. This training increasingly has interesting stuff in it (about employability, for instance). I'm hoping yours is up to date and relevant. (Take earplugs too, though).
- Form some kind of support group. Tome ReaderTM can also develop your teamwork skills. At the very least, you will be alone with the thesis a lot of the time and you need people around you who understand, and who want to get drunk and forget about it as much as you do.
- You will use Inter-Library loans more than anyone else in the universe.
- Your library fines will fund a new building, so the institution has reason to be grateful to you.
- If you get a studentship/sponsorship/grant, no matter how much money it is, it is starvation wages for the amount of work you will do. Do not be grateful. It is a contract for a piece of work, not a gift.
- You will find your own writing pattern. Some people work for ten hours a day for months at a time. Others only like to write in the mornings.
- Sometimes you will get caught in the gorgeousness of the style of writing or excited by the ideas of some of the critical writers you come across (no matter how long they have been dead). This is great. However, you may find you start loosing your voice and adopting theirs, or just get caught up in their theories. One the initial infatuation is over, try to step back. Your voice should be just as intoxicating. Work on it.