I have just finished talking to my PhD-to-be friend. We laughed a lot. He spent the last two years writing the thesis. I know how he feels. I did some writing for academic purposes in my life and helped many with their diplomas and master theses. Unfortunately, my experience with such writing tells me that most of these works would only be occupying one centimetre or even less on the bookshelf of the University library. Despite their extensive description and many keywords put into the library online system, nobody will ever read it. That is why we laughed.
First that comes to our minds is that the quality of that work is not good enough. This is why nobody reads it. But I do not think that is the real reason. Many thesis are interesting, intriguing, as they offer great conclusions that could help this humanity.
When I did my thesis in English, Spanish and Slovene Non-finites, I had to ask the Faculty to allow me to extend the expected length of my work. They demanded that I stick to the rules and cut down the findings to fit the limits. In the end, my appendix was larger than my thesis, but I did not want to leave out the findings that resulted from my one-year’s work. My research was the only research in three languages that suggested how English and Spanish non-finites should or could be translated into Slovene language. 15 years ago. Now, I see many in Slovenia complain about Google translate, how crappy it is. Come on, maybe in a little detail also my research would help the system to recognise the sentence structures and translate better. As nobody realised the value of it, it is only occupying one centimetre on the bookshelf in the library or, more probable, lying somewhere in the archive.
In a few years, I wrote the master’s thesis. It was about financing a street theatre festival, where funding the festival with the entrance fees is not an option. The same problem about the length mysteriously reappeared, but that faculty allowed me to print it two-sided, so that it would not occupy too much space. I started to ask myself if I really write too much, but then I realised that my research had been done properly and that the findings would and could be quite interesting to cultural managers in Slovenia, who want the knowledge to be able to finance their events. Spending two years doing a thorough research should bring some value to them, I naively thought. As the events are quite popular and common it could be of interest also to the potential reader.
Oh, yes, the potential reader, who art thou? Namely, in almost 15 years I got no reaction to what I did. Writing those ‘academic works’, I many times heard the librarians say – you must understand, not many are interested in this topic, therefore we don’t have the books you want available. Yes, make your problem my problem. I found out that all the work you do to get a degree, a title, was actually done in vain. Nobody is interested in the topic, they say. Nobody actually reads it, except for those who assess it. Then they give you a new title to decorate your name with and you are supposed to feel honoured. Through the years, all the quasi-good aspects of finishing your studies somehow vanish, as nobody knows how to use the knowledge you gained, not even the organisations you studied in the research.
OK. I face the fact they don’t use any approaches to study/learn. And laugh about it. Especially when someone calls me and presents me his/her NEW idea. I think to myself – it’s on 214th page of my thesis – and listen on to the word showering to my ear.
My research that took me months and years was not in vain. What is in vain is to bother with people who try to invent the wheel while in their car and explain to me how things should be done, not knowing I have already done it. And this has been going on and on for years. My recommendations – take some time and study the things that already exist and then make a step forward– are taken as an insult, when they should be taken into account. The world is changing, and we should change, too. Nobody will wait for inactive people to move, they will continue without us.
Then we realise that their ‘not-knowing’ is their problem. Their goal is to make our knowing our problem. Better for them to stop you than to activate themselves and learn something in their life.
Laughing to the situation is one way to escape its banality. It helps.
The thing that helps the most and what we take the most pride in is being aware that all that we have done was done as well as it could be done at the time. This is all that matters, doesn’t it?