Saturday, October 31, 2009

The hinterland that Markers of PhDs find themselves in

I've been reading John Law (2009) on performativity in social research method, where he discusses the hinterland inside of which things are done.
And there's scope here for studying the hinterland inside of which PhD marking occurs...
More to add to the box for the post doc life :)

Here's a taster that didnt use ANT or hinterlands taken from Kiley and Mullins (2002)

Examiners assume PhD candidates are still apprentices in the profession of research in their discipline; and so their theses are judged in terms of current competence and future promise as academic colleagues. If there are particular problems, then the examiners regard the department, the supervisor and the candidate as all being potentially implicated; and if there are remarkable achievements, the recognition likewise extends beyond the performance of the individual candidate. Similarly, the examiners themselves are conscious that their own reputation is being judged through the quality of their reports. (pp. 13–14)

There are then marking concerns that are right outside of the thesis itself, ones that a PhD student writer has no ability to control for.
Does the marker have time for this, is it a duty or a passion, is the thesis to be compared to several assessed or are they are relatively new academic with the thesis being judged against the markers own work...for the criteria themselves are broad and open to wide discrepancies in interpretation. What else are in these dark woods?
How are markers there respect for the research method, at the very least one would hope a marker was coming from the same or similar paradigm.
Getting past what makes for a passable thesis to one that is outstanding, Kiley and Mullins note the metaphors used valuing the artistry of the thesis. Personally, and as a PhD student 'sparkle' comes easily to me. My worry is that what I see as sparkle the marker may see as tinsel. While there is a level of art in a thesis, what i like and what others like in art is always going to be a debatable and possibly, a fashion commodity.
"I know what I like, and I dont like that."

I am back to wondering about the circumstances of markers, and their tolerance for difference.

I wonder what else is in the hinterland...

Mullins, G. & Kiley, M. (2002) 'It's a PhD not a Nobel Prize' Studies in Higher Education, 27(4).
Kiley, M. & Mullins, G. (2006) Opening the black box: how examiners assess your thesis, in, Doctorates downunder: keys to successful doctoral study in Australia and New Zealand, ACER, Melbourne, pp 200 - 207.
Law, J. (2009). Seeing Like a Survey. Cultural Sociology, 3(239).

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