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Students enrol in a research degree to develop as researchers, make discoveries, and, ultimately, write a thesis. More broadly, a fundamental goal underlying research study is that of transformation, from knowledge consumption to knowledge production, from dependence to independence, from student to colleague. You would not be doing a graduate degree unless you thought it was going to lead you into the world of professional investigation, or of research and scholarship.
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Not all researchers are so shy. I had to stop a PhD student in my group, Dave, from posting to international mailing lists to announce his latest discoveries—which were not, on a global scale, all that interesting. I valued his excitement about his work, but his excess of enthusiasm led him to embarrass himself. He needed to develop the patience to follow the ordinary channels of communication. In a similar slip of judgment, Dave decided that a particular group of researchers ought to adopt the referencing style he had learnt during his reading of how-to-write books. He wrote a stinging criticism of some papers, focusing on ‘issues’ that weren’t really problems at all, but just differences in style. Fortunately for him, his criticism was simply ignored.
- Beyond the Thesis
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