A caution against perfection in doctoral writing

Food for thought.

DoctoralWriting SIG

By Claire Aitchison

I confess I am not a big fan of that very contemporary convention: the bronzed and buffed, body beautiful. I feel the same about the writing of doctoral students during their candidature. In a world where we have unlimited capacity to ensure a polished product – let me explain my aversion.

I like a bit of the unconventional, the not yet perfect; I am drawn to the possibilities left open in the small imperfections of a bespoke doctoral writer (or body for that matter!). I’ve always been suspicious of perfection: it seems so closed, so artificial, so final – and so un-human. More plastic, than real. Indicative of misplaced priorities: style over substance perhaps?

But neither do I like the truly rough and ready, disorganised and chaotic product. If there was a way of measuring this, my preference would be to only very occasionally receive those truly…

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