Tome Reader ©
Level 3: What Fresh Hell is This?
(Equipment: As previously, with, in addition, a better idea of writing style, developing ideas and a very healthy dose of cynicism)
- If it expands enough, a Ph.D. can become an attempt to encompass all human knowledge. Eventually, you start editing it all back down again. Or should.
- Keep using the same computer throughout and do not be tempted to change it - even if you actually have money to do so - unless it collapses entirely. Make sure that your home and work computers are compatible - if you have two to work on, that is. You and the computer will get used to each other's foibles by the end of the thesis.
- You will have to attend various boards to tell them how you are getting on throughout Tome ReaderTM. Do something. It makes it easier to get through them. You will also have to fill in various forms, including transfer documents. This should be painless, but many players encounter a problem with the game at these points. They are often productive moments in that they help you think about how you are getting on. Basically, there are ways of getting around this glitch in the game. Remember, no matter how serious it is this is not the viva. Do the forms. Use those minutes you've been taking in meetings to fill them in or to create a report (see Level 2, no. 4) and talk them through it. You have been busy reading and suchlike, after all.
- It is your thesis, not your supervisors. Take it back off them if they show more signs of ownership than you do. On the other hand, if you keep handing it over to them, even down to asking them what theory to use (OK, I exaggerate) then you are probably in denial about some of the lonelier or more intense aspects of Tome ReaderTM. I know it sounded wonderful, and you really fancied doing it, but you may feel it is actually all too much. Talk this through with someone.
- Holidays are the time when you think you will get loads written and never do. If you can put aside any time aside during the week to write, do so.
- Every computer game has people and/or things that will try to stop you and this one is no different. It has been known for this to happen. Mind you, it also has to be said that by this level paranoia is natural.
- By this stage everything you see and read seems connected to the thesis. This too is natural.
- If they keep saying don't worry, it may well be worth considering doing so.
- You will start, as this very long level continues, to feel that the thesis is getting simpler and sillier with every passing moment. It isn't. This sensation is a side effect of your familiarity with the material. Everyone else will feel differently about it. If a bit bored by how much you talk about it.
- Three copies of the stuff you have written, on data sticks and hard drive is about right for the amount of fear you feel by the end of Level 3. This happens because you will be assume that (see no. 6, above):
- Your house will be broken into (all they want is your thesis)
- the computer will crash
- your workplace will burn down
- the dog will eat it.
- the university shared drive will be attacked by aliens
(See also Level 1, no. 9 and no. 6 above)
- When the thesis gets to the stage that it will barely fit on even the hugest data stick ever, especially if you have images involved (I may be exaggerating) it means it is now about the right length, or even longer. There may be some kind of word limit. Have a look in the regulations (see Level 1, no. 1. You'll never skim read regulations again, will you?). Then ask everyone you know who has passed how long their thesis was. You will feel much better after this and may not bother cutting out those extra 20,000 words after all.
- Conversely, you could find out what the minimum wordage is and do that and no more. It will do no harm either. It will be as long as it wants to be. You just corral it a bit.
- Do go to conferences, give papers and try to get published. Get your name out there. Tell them all what you are up to. Why should you suffer alone? (This also makes sure that you are so well known that no one else can claim, borrow or downright nick your stuff).