Sunday, December 01, 2013

When a Thesis Doesn't Have a Thesis

Back at the beginning of the semester, I wrote about a problem I've had in the past with MA students who disappear for a couple of months and then send a chunk of work and hope for a quick response.  And despite my request that it not happen, it's happened.  I sent the student an email last week, asking about hir disappearance, and zie sent me a short apology and a revised chapter and a new chapter.

I'm so frustrated.  I've been slowly reading, stopping when what I really want to write on the paper or in my response how frustrated I am to be reading a thesisless, argumentless hunk of writing.  I don't know what to call it, but it's irritating.

And then, of course, I wonder about the quality of my own dissertation draft chapters.  I don't think I was so aimless in my writing, but it's hard to tell retrospectively.  I hope they were better.

I resent the amount of energy I put in to responding and then get a new chapter (or revision) that doesn't seem to have taken anything away from the previous responses.


  1. Anonymous7:07 PM

    When I get something like that, I demand they re-outline the thing and send me the outline before I provide more substantive comments.

  2. In retrospect, I know that my thesis drafts really sucked. It took a long time for me to see that I needed to argue about the forest and not just the trees or the branches!

    That said, this is why I'm increasingly leery about working with M.A. students who don't have a clear thesis angle before they head off into the wild blue yonder. If they get off campus and can't come back for reasonable interaction, they're not going to easily develop that analytic focus at the appropriate level.

    Good luck!

  3. My never graduates, doing capstone projects, did drafts that I called mind dumps. And I think many first drafts are like that. Here is my question, here is what I know. My job was to give them clues on how they move from the information dump to a thesis, and maybe even indicate what I think they want to say. My drafts aren't that bad, but they often have an information dump quality about them.