The first fabrication of doctoral studies postulates that of all who enter doctoral studies only the worthy survive.
The second fabrication purports that students who complete do so because of greater talent.
The third fabrication says throw ‘em in the deep end without a life raft and those who learn to swim have superior merit.
The fourth fabrication sets up the course work as a proving ground, which proves nothing, cause course work discontinues with original research.
The fifth fabrication relates grades in course work to facility with doctoral research.
The sixth fabrication fails to factor in the daunting task of writing a document of greater length than has heretofore been written.
The seventh sickness fails to train doctoral researchers to work with other researchers, yet the vast preponderance of academics work with others.
The eighth exposure concerns the production of a made-only-for-doctoral-studies vehicle; the dissertation.
The ninth nix notices the non-development of new pedagogies to keep a pace with changes to research, to society, to information, to practices of scholarship in doctoral education.
The tenth tedium allows faculties to admit doctoral wannabes without apparent concern for supporting their success as in their failure to question the appalling rates of departure and long times to completion for doctoral students.
The eleventh elective fails to disclose the standards by which the candidate will be judged with any degree of transparency (or is that reliability and validity).
In the twelfth twilight doctoral programs play out feudal politics while a larger society eagerly needs the doctorate to meet the ever growing demand for new knowledge.
Up where doctoral studies belong, behind the black curtain of the wizard, enter the wannabe Ph. Ds.
Doctoral students apprentice to wizards: pretend to be the next generation of pretenders.
In the land behind the black curtain, in the mists of esoteric societies, pedantic pedagogues and confounding logics, exist the fabricators of fabrication nation. Here toil the makers and fabricators of knowledge. Let us spin out new invisible fabrics to bring to our initiation.
Herein lays the rub. For the uncertain labour of the noviate who practices in the tacit arts of doctoral research, come with “placebo effects.”
Trust in the teacher, the teachings, the institution, the instituting, and the illustrious history to plumb out the plum.
Work hard too, although work guarantees nothing.
The effort to produce the work usually pales in comparison to the contribution to original knowledge. The thin plum sanctions a wizardry worthy of a new wizard. Welcome doctor, shaman, wizard, fabricator. Welcome to fabrication nation.
It’s the time of year when beginning doctoral researchers start to think about formulating their research proposals. In addition to reading a lot - to locate their study and find useful ideas and approaches - they also have to come up with a research question or research questions.
I’ve just come across a little resource that might help - Paul Trowler’s set of ibooks on researching in higher education.
In this post entitled ‘How not to Write a PhD thesis’ by Tara Brabazon, notice the vulnerability of doctoral researchers to injustices. For example, after the oral exam, one of Tara Brabazon’s students suffers the slap of ‘minor revisions needed’ for ONE revision to a footnote in the fifth chapter.
The nightmare story of the doctoral researcher in the comment section at the end of the piece should convince everyone of the need for more transparency in the oral exam, in the selection of external examiners, and in instructions for revision that are given to students.
Please read this post and let me know how some of the problems Brabazon discusses could be ameliorated or avoided. Note Brabazon is a British academic in the Humanities, so some of which she writes is particular to her discipline and her system.
How do the points Brabazon makes apply to doctoral education in other disciplines and countries. How do they not?
1. You and your work are crucial to the future of humanity and the world
No, really. Fact is, society needs knowledge. Society is changing. We need new knowledge. We are constantly playing catch-up, as well as relying on people to get one step ahead and shape our visions for the future. Without research we are doomed. And without doctoral students, a huge portion of the research pie simply disappears.