Thursday, January 5, 2012

Law of Dissertating Inertia

It's been awhile since my last post. I figured that out by looking at the date on that post today. Yeah, I know - it's obvious. However, it's just after the holidays where I did absolutely nothing productive and it's taking some time to start thinking again. Don't judge me! The whole situation reminds me of the law of inertia.

You read that right. It's the law of inertia: a grad student in motion tends to stay in motion while one at rest tends to stay at rest, unless an external force is applied. Click here for a description of this for comic fans. Well, this grad student has been at rest for awhile. A long while. Alas, this must change.

As per the events of my last post, I've been looking into a career in R&D. I like the idea. I enjoy research and discovery. I also enjoy being employed and having free time. R&D appears to be better aligned with such ideals than academia is. See any of the blogs to the right for a multitude of views on work/life balance, the crappy academic job market, or lack of intellectual freedom. Though R&D seems to be a better job market than academia, I have a nontraditional Ph.D. (read not STEM) and will likely have to take a more guerilla job search approach. Since that can be time consuming, I'm rabidly trying to finish my dissertation draft before the semester starts.

On a fairly random tangent, I like the word "rabidly" for describing dissertating. Such an activity should automatically conjure up a sort of unhealthy, foaming-at-the-mouth image. It really is a pointless exercise. Even as I'm writing my diss, I know it is unlikely to ever to be read or to be worthy of another's time. And that's before my committee gets there teeth in it.


I firmly agree with Einstein that if you cannot explain something simply, you do not understand it well enough. As a result, I can explain my entire dissertation research in under 150 pages (I think - I haven't finished it yet). The last two dissertations that passed in my department were ~250 and ~300 pages respectively. I really don't want to fluff my dissertation to such a bloated state just to satisfy faculty egos. I'm not going into academia anyway. Only in academia could you get a final product that is both dense and fluffy. "Fluffy" is used here to mean light and lacking in substance while "dense" refers to something that is impenetrable, for those who need definitions of everything. Let it be transparent! Let it be substantial! Let it NOT be painful!

Anyway, that's what I'm doing when I'm not posting. I'm hoping to defend by March 16th, mostly because I'd like a really good reason to be really trashed on St. Patty's day. Since I'm not adverse to drinking any other day of the year, I feel like I should have a reason to do it on St. Patty's day. You know, it makes it "special" that way. So, I must finish this beast and allow the faculty to begin their shredding of it. I'm sure there will be at least two rounds of revisions before all is said and done.

Wish me luck in my endeavor. I wish you luck in yours, whether it is leaving academia, finding a job, or otherwise maintaining what's left of your sanity. Cheers to us all!

1 comment:

Currer Bell said...

Best of luck! I'll make sure to have an extra drink on St. Patty's Day in your honor :)