Wednesday, October 11, 2006

The value of paraphrasing PhDs

If you are in the enviable position of having finished your PhD dissertation, but have not yet submitted it, or have submitted it but not had it published, you could do worse that write a précis of your main points and findings; paraphrasing and/or summarizing your work is a good way of checking that it makes sense (before you submit it and yourself to a defence), and also a good way of putting your ideas into print without having to forego the process later in a more serious, refereed journal or in a book.

Of course, if you think your ideas are revolutionary and will make you into a millionaire, then don’t publish anything without an agent to protect your interests.

Short of that though, you could do a lot worse that rewriting your dissertation and trying it on readers you know and who know you and with whom you regularly communicate.

In that way, you get free criticism, gain confidence from seeing it in print, and get it out there, along with your name.

Not having done a PhD, I am not really in a position to know how it feels finishing one. I can imagine, however, and I should think seeing some light again after months/years of gathering, deciphering, explaining and illustrating and whatever else PhDs call their candidates to do, is refreshing. Writing in a slightly less rigourous way should come as a sort of recreation after the strenuous work of getting to the end of several years of study.
Robert Leslie Fielding


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