Saturday, 19 July 2008

Valuing of ideas

This has been a frustrating period as I have looked for employment and endeavoured to complete the writing of my thesis. My supervisor retired this week from the university and as yet, I don't know what the arrangements are for continued supervision. I might be the student but the issue isn't discussed with me and I don't seem to be being notified of progress.

But the frustrations with writing go further than that. It is increasingly looking like I am writing for an unknown target audience who could easily reject my work because their understanding of the issues and approach to research disagree with the premises that I have been working to.

We all know the difficulties that some historical entities have had in getting their ideas accepted. These include the challenge to the earth being flat and to the idea that the sun went round the earth. We are in a much more enlightened age when ideas would be examined fairly based on the supporting evidence. “Yeah right!” Kuhn (1996) talked about how research is guided by paradigms. Well my research crosses over two domains (Computer Science and Education). I am beginning to think this was a dangerous approach. Those in education have little understanding of the computer science issues and the computer scientists lack the educational background. I am currently trying to write from an educational perspective but this is proving difficult because I am not immersed in educational thinking and research paradigms. I write something and it is torn to shreds by my educational based supervisor. I haven't followed the norms of an educational thesis.

But is it a computer science thesis? The answer to that is probably not either. It may not even fit a computer science education perspective. It is beginning to look as though thesis writing is all about knowing the research paradigm in which you sit and ensuring that you stick rigidly to the constraints of that paradigm. Don't attempt to cross the divide or possibly challenge the existing norms too much or you will be rejected regardless of the quality of your work.

Yes, I am assured that my process (data gathering and analysis) is fine. I am just not writing for the target audience. Somewhere I have heard that before. Oh, yes! Secondary school English! Sorry your critique of this play / novel isn't consistent with the normal pattern in English. Grade – Fail. Oh well, let's get on with something that is accepted and leave the critiques to those who follow the accepted norms.

References:

Kuhn, T. S. (1996). The structure of scientific revolutions (3rd ed.). Chicago: University of Chicago.

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