Sunday, February 8, 2009

The Corrections (a.k.a. A Mini Rant)

This picture was taken by the Pal at the Ghibli Museum in Tokyo, Japan. It doesn't have much to do with the post, but it makes me happy, so it stays.

Today is my first day of reading examiners' comments and beginning the process of corrections on my thesis. On one level, the comments are really uplifting - they all seem to think this is a "significant contribution to the field" which is nice, but sometimes they are just plain mean. It's easy to sit back, take pot shots from the cheap seats, as the Pal says, and then not offer any substantively helpful feedback. That being said, I am very grateful to one anonymous marker who went out of his/her way to suggest careful and thoughtful ways to address a particular structural and theoretical issue.

I think it's just very hard to sit and read 12 pages of pretty full-on critique without feeling a bit winded.

Memo to self: it's really nice to be nice. And helpful, too. If I am ever in the position of marking anything, I hope to be able to do it with grace and humility and offer intelligent advice.

**Edited to say thank you for all your delightful comments - I appreciate them so much. xx


  1. It's hard not to wince at the thought of you reading the critiques. I'm so pleased to hear that some of the comments have been constructive. And congratulations at being a significant contribution! That's huge!

    Still, sounds like some people saw fit to pour salt on the wound - but your memo sounds like a wonderful way to deal with the news.

    Big love, Kate! (though not the Mormon kind) xx

  2. Argh, how infuriating. I have heard that often happens with examiners who don't have much experience marking doctoral theses. Great news about the constructive feedback from the other (better!) examiner.

    There's only one thing to do, and it sounds like you're already onto it: suck it up, work yourself silly and then knock 'em dead. (If it were me, my methodology would involve an additional step -- something along the lines of "drink gin".)

    Drop us a line if you ever need to be reminded of how clever and spectacular you are...


  3. hey kate

    adorable ghibli robot! i see i have a lot of catching up to do on your blog and travel adventures =) [self imposed computer moratorium of sorts post-submission you see... good to stretch the brain in other ways =) ]

    oh, i hear your pain. it's really hard not to take the examiners' comments personally! i got my comments back recently too...we have to remind ourselves to remember the good comments and, dare i say, the praise, and try not to overly focus on the criticisms...

    easier to say than do of course...

    heaps of luck, jfox

    ps: i agree with the gin remedy.. or perhaps pims punch remedy =p

  4. I felt smacked by the comments of a journal article reviewer recently which included some treats like, "the writer is clearly beguiled by her own topic," "the topic is not uninteresting." They want the article with comments, but these comments have just made me less energised - what purpose do these types of comments serve?

    With you on that vow to give thoughtful, encouraging and respectful feedback.

    Good luck, angel. You will get there. x

  5. that would be "with changes"...but effectively, I guess, with comments!

    Big hugs

  6. Oh dear! That sounds rather tiresome and demotivating. Poor you...

    Please take comfort in this quote which I've saved for just such emergencies:

    "In many ways, the work of a critic is easy. We risk very little yet enjoy a position over those who offer up their work and their selves to our judgment. We thrive on negative criticism, which is fun to write and to read. But the bitter truth we critics must face, is that in the grand scheme of things, the average piece of junk is more meaningful than our criticism designating it so." - Anton Ego, Ratatouille (Brad Bird, 2007)

  7. Hey, dear! Hang in there. and read this:

    And then get somebody you like to get a red pen and draw funny pictures intermittently in the comments. Like cows.

  8. In the nerdiest way possible, I've put my comment in blog form because I didn't want to take up too much comment space.

    But I've been stewing on this for a few days and I'm really cross that people could be so cavalier with something so serious. A pox on them! (literally I hope they get chicken pox because it's REALLY itchy and annoying).

    Oh look I took up lots of comment space anyway!


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