Academic writing blues

Ho hum. Memories of my school days are flooding back to me. I never got into trouble for misbehaving or physically breaking any rules. What I did get into trouble for, was being a vocal square peg in a round hole. For marching to a different drummer, for thinking outside the box.

I hadn’t expected to find myself back in this situation at postgraduate level, and yet, here I am!

I struggled to get approval to submit a paper on Connectivism recently, because there is little or no peer reviewed writing on it in any of the recognised journals. I’m obviously not built for this world, because my immediate response is “So what?” I don’t understand why someone else needs to have written about something before I can write about it!

During a lecture (essentially) on the art of getting published last night, emphasis was placed on citing appropriate references in appropriate journals, to which I responded with the retort that this presupposes that someone has already written on the same subject, meaning you are prevented from doing anything new. The Prof responded with “I defy you to come up with anything completely new.” I understood from what he had to say that originality is the provinceof the doctoral student, whereas criticality is the province of the masters’ student. I am only too aware of my limitations as an orignal thinker, but I resent the assumptions and the ceilings that appear to be set in place, simply because one doesn’t have the right letters behind one’s name. How flimsy is that?!

At another point he also cautioned us to be patient. In the social science journals, there is apparently a 2-3 year delay between acceptance of an article and its actual publication in the journal.

Since one of my driving interests is the use of the affordances of technology in learning, I can’t be sticking around for two years – by that time the technology will be obsolete, Web 2.0 will have been superseded by Web 3.0 and maybe even web 4.0. Things seldom stand still long enough for a significant body of writing appear in any of the “respected journals”.

I guess I will just have to accept that I am not going to get published in any “respected journals”. I  will stick to publishing on this blog and this one and possibly explore some professional journals if it seems appropriate further down the line.

But it leaves me with a huge question mark around my dissertation. How can I possibly write about something that matters to me if I’m restricted to a topic with an adequacy of been-there-done-that from recognised luminaries?

2 thoughts on “Academic writing blues

  1. Karyn, I am much in the same position as you. My “new” area is integrating educational research with participative processes, in other words learning by ordinary citizens engaged in deliberative events. But just because little is written directly about this, I can still cite others like Dewey or the growing literature about lifelong learning which talk “around” my topic. I am surprised that in a Masters dissertation you are being limited to critique. In my case at University of Sydney I have to include small-scale empirical research if I care to proceed to doctoral study. I have to demonstrate a capacity for research. Nobody is discouraging me from making new claims. Have you signed up with the right mob?

  2. Hi Ron – long time no hear! Perhaps my frustration ran away with me. One third of my work towards my Masters’ is a 20K word dissertation, and we are studying research methodoloy towards that end. However, the prof advised me that I was getting ahead of myself by contemplating original research in a Masters’ degree. I think I got under his skin – it’s something I do quite a lot! Reading your brief description of your subject area makes me feel very inadequate, since I don’t think I even understand what it means!

    As to whether I’ve “signed up with the right mob” – I didn’t have any choice! I searched for two years to find a university that would accept me onto a Masters’ programme, and this was the only one that would do it. On the whole, I have no complaints – I just find it difficult to get past the need for extant peer-reviewed material, in the light of the short shelf-life of many of the aspects of my field of endeavour.

Leave a Reply