Tuesday, April 02, 2013

What the Phd studied in 50 words; Choosing phewer shades of grey

I cant believe the difficulty i have with this.
A day I will never get back; tangled in words.
I am trying to choose from the many words written into this doctoral thesis (97986) which 50 words might be used to sum it up?
And I am floundering.
How to separate black from white when i have learned to see so many shades of grey?
And how might 50 words/shades of grey/capture an audience?

Bottom line appears to be: What would be the takeaway I would want others to know of?

Having tried the autoword summary and got something ridiculous, I reread my abstract, but it was filled with promise rather than with findings...so I looked at my conclusions. Yes conclusions. Multiple. Any one of which performs partially.
So am back to wondering "But which one?"
Unable to resolve this, I then attempt other approaches.I locate key words: what has to be included in there somewhere?

Text-counselling; Youthline (NZ); telephone helpline
so that's at least 5 words, 45 to go.

On twitter I seek help for the equivalence of putting it through a hot wash cycle and then the dryer; I'm given advice: start with why; people need a problem they can relate to.
Through skype, my 100th draft, but first to anyone outside of my own headspace, advises me this is read out at graduation, and big words are lost in an auditorium. So much for those clever long words i had put in there to make it/me seem intelligent.

So, a more punchy 50 words.

Enactments of change: On becoming textually active at Youthline (NZ)

The phones at Youthline (NZ) hardly ring anymore. Young people still have problems, and are still helped, but this happens silently. This thesis addresses how counselling changes when mediated by technology; specifically text messaging. With emphasis on ‘moral purposing’, what it is to do good in contemporary counselling is explored.

phew :) phewer words
Not quite black and white, but its succinct, and is a version I am happy with.
It entices interest, politely seductive, positioning the need for the study, and emphasizes or at least points to, what's important.
*Lets out a huge sigh*
It's an end.

What universities say about this 50 word grad ceremony summary:
Other universities do this in a variety of ways, mine asks me to write my own summary stating only that:
This summary will appear in the Graduation Ceremonies Program. It should focus on the outcomes of the research, be in plain English and contain a maximum of fifty words.

At Melbourne University it is written by the examination's chair attending to the following:
the citation should be restricted to 50 words.
the citation should indicate what the research was about and commence with the words [name of candidate] who investigated.../ who studied.../ who examined.../ who found.../ who argues.../ work will benefit... .
it should contain a brief description about what the research achieved or “found”
it should give an indication about the impact of the research or its potential application
it should be grammatically correct and written in language which can be understood by a lay audience at the conferring ceremony
present or future tense should be used when describing findings, impact or potential application
only those technical or specialised terms which are in general use should be used, otherwise a plain language explanation should be added
it should refer back to the candidate by using "his findings" or "her study" (the candidate's name should not be used within the text of the citation).


  1. At our graduation they only read the title! At Massey, when I was there, they use to read the whole abstract, but they don't now - a summary such as you have written is used.

    You can hardly believe it's over, can you? I found your topic interesting: I sat on the Youthline phones in Wellington in 1971-2. I hadn't thought about this service changing with technology.

  2. Its been a long journey. And the endings are multiple!
    Theres the final draft, and then the final draft made better, and reading undertaken by associate supervisors, who have further amendments, then the final gets submitted formally. And then there's waiting. A lot of waiting, while it gets marked. And having been so frantic, this waiting seems worse. And then there's feedback and decisions to be made on defending or adapting, as well as the quirks of humaness that now get noticed with typos found by these fresh readers/markers. So then there are amendments and a re submission. And further waiting. And then theres a tick from the principal supervisor...so its done...but then theres the formality required by the head of school or head of research...and then waiting for official confirmation...and so from submission to graduation there is a year predominantly marked by waiting. I would have liked fireworks, the 'bang' rather than the fade away... Hopefully come october i will still feel like celebrating a finale :)
    The service in NZ seems to be doing well with better systems - phones not answered in one centre then get routed to the next closest centre... and Youthline has also extended connecting to the Cook islands for a texting service. Certainly some things changed hugely, and some stay the same.
    Thanks for dropping by.