Writing and Presenting Your
Thesis or Dissertation
S. Joseph Levine, Ph.D.
Michigan State University
East Lansing, Michigan USA
Note #9 - When will they treat me like an equal?
At some time during graduate study frustration grows and you find yourself getting very upset at always being treated like a "second class citizen". You feel like you have developed lots of new knowledge yet the faculty do not treat you as an equal. They continue to demand that you prove yourself at every turn. This becomes very apparent when you begin working on the proposal for your research and you are forced to provide substantiation for everything you state. Even if there are obvious aspects of your research, you are still required to dig deep into the literature and provide a basis, from prior research and writing, for everything that you are saying. "When will I be treated like an equal? When will I be allowed to make my own statements and have them treated as truths? When will I become an expert?"
It is important for you to understand that it is not only the fact that you are a new researcher. Having to substantiate everything that you state is one of the very fundamental aspects of all research - for new and old researchers.
It is similar to walking out onto a lake that is frozen in the winter. From the side of the lake it all looks very safe. However, is all of the ice safe to walk on? Are some sections of the ice thicker (or thinner) than other sections? Maybe you have walked on ice for many years and have never had an accident. Does that mean that you know how thick the ice is in every section of the lake? Of course not.
And what if you decide to advertise that you are an expert ice thickness assessor? Will people walk out onto the lake just because you advertise that you are an expert? Will it make people more willing to walk out onto the frozen lake if you tell them that you have walked on 100 frozen lakes in the past? Or, how about telling them that you have been walking on frozen lakes for 30 years. Will that make you an expert in their eyes?
Of course not.
Before I will follow the advice and recommendations of the ice thickness assessor (and walk on the frozen lake) I would like to know the following things:
I think you understand what I am saying.
a) What types on instruments have been used to assess the thickness of the ice?
b) Are these instruments known to be good for assessing ice thickness? Or, are other instruments better?
c) Has more than one assessment been done of the ice thickness? And, are the results of each assessment very similar?
d) How recently has the assessment been made? Today? Yesterday? Last week? Last month?
d) Is the ice thickness assessor proficient at using the measurement instruments? Have other assessors also been invited to assess the thickness of the ice? Are all of their assessments very similar?
e) What information exists that describes how thick the ice must be to support 190 pounds (my weight)?
As I study the ice thickness report I am not concerned about hurting the feelings of the ice thickness assessor. My concern is that the information that is provided to me be of the highest quality. Or, I will not walk on the ice!
I think you also have this view.
Having a faculty member demand that we fully support every aspect of the research we are proposing is not meant to be seen as treating us as second class citizens. It is the faculty member's responsibility to challenge us in every way to make sure that the project we are proposing is strong and absolutely accurate. The faculty member is here to help make sure that anyone who reads our research report will not fall through thin ice into a very cold lake!
Return to Facebook Notes
Writing and Presenting Your Thesis or Dissertation