Sunday, July 03, 2011

The one hour PhD, and other variations

Having spent 5 years on this so far, and a yet to be edited down to 100,000 word thesis, I feel more than well enough qualified to consider, and to write on, the one hour PhD.
My credentials include:
PhD in txt speak (160 characters)
A PhD in a tweet (140 characters)
A PhD haiku (roughly three lines and 17 syllables)
The three minute thesis
A PhD in plain English (for the intelligent "aunty")
The lolcat thesis
And an origami exercise in thesis writing relating to worldmaking

And now I have a new diversion: the one hour PhD.
This one's based on how to read a book in an hour, a useful consideration given I'm entering into my final year of my study (I hope) and have suddenly found books I wish I had read at least 4 years ago...
This however is not about the reading of a book in an hour, nor for those hopeful is it about the writing of a thesis in an hour.
I write of how to present the thesis such that it could be absorbed, if not "read", in an hour. A useful consideration for editing the product of several years of study. It's also a way of putting a smile on the face of a reader, its about a sell job- they are getting nothing less than what was promised and hopefully a whole lot more.

So a rubric to edit to:
1. The title, 10 words. If a word search was going to pick this up in a data base would it have done so?
2. The introduction, 10-15 pages saying what you-and-the-reader are getting into, and what you-and-the-reader will get out of it.
3. Outline the book. Is it evident in the table of contents? Do the chapter titles as well as headings and the first level of subheadings (if any) provide a map to the thesis argument? Alternately it can be a perfunctory outline of what a reader can anticipate of the order.
4. Check opening and closing sections of every chapter. Do these provide enough info to understand the main points. Would a cut and paste of these *and nothing else* make sense in progressing the argument?
5. Does the conclusion progress from the introduction? If the intro and conclusions were bookends, are they balanced; do they match? If it takes the reader somewhere else, has this been explained? What of the argument or journey is highlighted? How does this contribute to new knowledge? What does it contribute to practitioners, to the theory underpinning the study, to future researchers?

And then there's the bits in between...but that's the subject of the other 5-6 years of study time...and for that you actually have to write the book :)
...and read it.

All seems so clear when i put it like this...makes me wonder what i have spent so many more hours on...but then there's the thinking time...and the writing that makes it enticing, a pleasure to write and to read...


  1. This is a fascinating idea, Ailsa, which is made that much richer by linking to your other shortened forms of summarizing your work. Gives me good ideas of how to consider abridge my own work, at least once I have enough to shorten!


  2. In the US, after our dissertation (thesis) has been prepared, we have a two hour "defense" of the dissertation in which we have to present our dissertation in an hour. Then we have an hour of what can be a grueling question and answer session. This will really help me to prepare for the defense!