6 Comments
Jan 25, 2022Liked by prof serious

Great advice - I'm going to stick this on my research team's virtual wall!

Expand full comment
Jan 25, 2022Liked by prof serious

so good to hear I should be worried... :-)

Expand full comment

Here is a statement to think about - " The word processor has damaged research"

Those of you who are under 50 may have never used a typewriter in anger. Typewriters were difficult to use and you easily made mistakes. As result, you had to write your reports/papers/thesis in longhand. You were forced to refine your use of English: keeping the text precise knowing that you may have to type it. This language rigour also improved how you presented your argument.  

Word processors allow text to be written quickly  - too quickly for the writer's brain to edit and refine the text.

Have a look at the PHDs Thesis's in your department, you will find the average size of 1960/70s PhD Thesis's is about 75 to100 pages - today a 300 page thesis, plus an appendix is not uncommon. Most of these mega PhD's/Reports/Papers fall into my category of  "Never mind the quality - look at the size. It must be good"

I am not a Luddite, I find Grammarly a revelation for someone who has always struggled with spelling and grammar.

Have a look at Crick and Watson's paper on the suggested structure of DNA - a two-page classic.  If a similar paper was published today it would take up a whole journal. To be fair, Crick and Watson did go a bit mad in their follow up paper, in Nature, which was four pages long.

http://dosequis.colorado.edu/Courses/MethodsLogic/papers/WatsonCrick1953.pdf

Remember, less ( well written) is more :-) Think of the poor examiner/reviewer who has to read your work.

Ta

Paul

Expand full comment
author

Good writing is ultimately good editing. I find that this is easier with the right digital tools. I commend in this regard Stephen King ‘On Writing’ https://www.amazon.co.uk/Writing-Memoir-Craft-Stephen-King/dp/1444723251/ref=nodl_

Expand full comment

I want to apologies. I am guilty of my own poor editing. :-) Re-reading my comments, it may look like I was having a dig a UCL: I was not. I trying to write the comment from the viewpoint of a general reader form any dept. The "your department" was a reference to the reader's department. PhDs and papers in all subjects have bloated and the clarity of thought, in my opinion, has not increased in proportion to the page count.

Oh - don't you just love the English language, a difficult animal to control and it will bite you given half a chance.

Sorry again, please delete my poorly edited comment.

Paul

Expand full comment
author

I read this all very positively and am grateful for the interesting and interested response! I will leave it be unless you insist.

Expand full comment