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I’ve spent a week or so rewriting parts of my rejected paper and generally reformatting it and refitting the different components together. I knew revising papers for the 9462805639874568025th time is nauseating, but I didn’t know it was this nauseating. I feel like being sick right onto my keyboard.

There is still a LOT of pressure on doctoral researchers to publish before they submit as a way of getting a leg up onto the metaphorical academic ladder. The many who submit their thesis and only think about writing up for publication later seem to have a kind of hopeless stereotype attached to them wherein the mundane work teaching freshers on introductory courses drains so much intellectual energy from them they never end up getting round to doing it.

Hence, my ongoing publication pitfall panic. I’ve started seriously worrying that I’ll fall into this publicationless ditch and never get out, and spend the rest of my days hopping from one research assistantship to another, producing great research for other people while my own worthwhile work collects dust in the filing cabinet.

Ahhhh.

I knew papers are hard to write, but I didn’t know it was this hard.

Keep writing, keep writing, keep writing.

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In a data set of a thousand or more cases, I’ve been told to conduct a test once, and once only, and the result of that test is to be reported as the defintive result of the study. Because conducting a test several times on different randomly drawn subsamples of the data set and comparing them for replicability of the result is apparently unscientific.

I think what’s unscientific is choosing not to acknowledge that a test result is not replicable on randomly drawn subsamples when it indeed isn’t. Because you’re insisting that something you chance upon in the first instance is gospel, to however a small extent, when you have the possibility of showing that it isn’t. But you’re scared to do it, because science dictates you can’t.

That sucks.

And however much traditional science embraces an epistemology of empiricism, insofar as that empiricism depends on statistics to show that effects exist in the world, there will always be an intellectual community that embraces single-test philosophy as the only feasible way to report the existence of an effect, and thus, with so many data sets, we can never really know whether such effects still exist, by way of replication, in multiple randomly drawn subsamples of large data sets.

Well, that’s exactly what I’ve just done and the results are variable. Meaning what you find first isn’t always the right answer.

Rather, ‘truth’, insofar as science can escertain it, should be built on the basis of repeated discovery of the same replicability of an effect, not just a single instance of an effect. If an effect only exists in a data set in one instance, I’m just not inclined to believe it’s really there.

Or maybe I’ve just been staring at my data for too long.

My paper was rejected.

Outright.

With no peer review.

Honestly, I thought dealing with romantic rejection would have been harder than this, but I’m having second thoughts. You get over it eventually, but until then I’ll be suffering yet another painfully acute episode of Imposter Syndrome, sulking, pouting, and feeling dejected. It’s childish but it’s how I feel.

However much the fact that science seems to be populated with myriad high-flying intellectuals with little room for green up-and-comers like me is actually not a fact at all, that doesn’t help me stop believing it. For all the transparency, we still haven’t achieved that level of meritocracy that will create an intellectual utopia in which all research, regardless of rigour, will be taken for the good things it offers the world.

Ah. Well.

Yes, I’m guilty of trying to write my thesis before it’s ready. But I have no choice, because I’ve altered my data collection schedule, and I have nothing else to do right now than either write or procrastinate. And given I want to submit next May, I’m going with the writing.

I’ve never realised it’s so boring.

But bring it on.

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The Final Countdown

Submission of PhD ThesisMay 1st, 2013
The big day is here. Joy to the world!