Saturday, 19 February 2011

PhD Field Trips

Yesterday I was somewhat surprised to discover that it was possible to download my thesis in full from the British Library website. So I did. Didn't even cost me anything.

I looked at the extensive Appendix which contains graphic logs and detailed descriptions of all the sections I had visited, from Staffin Bay on the Isle of Skye, all the way down to the south of France.

Then I did something a bit sad, I suppose. I added up the total thickness of sections logged, measured and described, bed-by-bed, contact-by-contact - centimetre-by-centimetre. Sections thus logged in the cold, rain, heat. Sections logged halfway up a hill or quarry face. Sections which play peek-a-boo among tides and seaweed and boulders. Sections which seem barren of the necessary fossils needed to date them.

It came to a whopping 900 metres! Don't let it ever be said that research students are only continuing their education to avoid a Real Job.

Those 900 metres were only the observations and data. Then I had to make sense of it all and draw it all together into an argument supporting a thesis statement.

PhD research involving not only the intellect but the tough, gruelling labour and hardships of field studies are not to be lightly dismissed as a job avoidance tactic. Mind you, it was fun at times...

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