Rough Theory

Theory In The Rough

National Research Writing Month

Via Sarapen: a LiveJournal community dedicated to people who are trying to finish research theses. I gather the concept is to use the community to post commitments and progress updates on thesis writing, in the theory that the combination of group support and public accountability will decrease procrastination. The community is currently set to operate through the month of November, then recess for the holidays, and then resume in the new term.

Probably not my personal thing – I tend to terrify myself into meeting deadlines by scheduling… er… other deadlines: presentations, guest lectures or similar that will require me to prepare a chunk of what I need to write. I seem to need the “objectivity” of a real deadline, and I also get an extra productivity boost if I’m committed to something that will inspire guilt about what might happen if I don’t prepare adequately for something on which someone else depends… ;-P So I search for “opportunities” like this, if I’m feeling the lure of procrastination too deeply…

I have, though, been quietly trying to keep a personal commitment to posting or presenting something dissertation-related at least once a week, which I suppose is a similar concept…

But I thought someone out there might find the group useful (and, now that Sarapen has taken the plunge, it can properly be considered “International” Research Writing Month)…

3 responses to “National Research Writing Month

  1. Sarapen November 21, 2006 at 4:18 pm

    I don’t think it’s about public accountability per se, since the comm has 30-something members and yet whenever the inevitable “where are you now in your research” questions pop up, only a handful of people ever bother to comment (and usually the same bunch too).

    Rather, I find it operates more on an honour system, where joining the group is a public promise to practice certain self-disciplinary measures. Basically, you vow to be your own worst nagger. I think the guilt is more private than public: I said I’d write, I have to write today, etc.

    Still, a public promise does have a certain external reality that a private one made to oneself doesn’t. I don’t know how many vague personal promises on the lines of “I’ll start on this section sometime this week” I’ve broken. If no one heard you make a promise to write, did you actually break a promise in the first place? I started an actual grad student writing group among my cohort but it broke down after 2 1/2 meetings, which is too bad because needing to have something to talk about that week was a pretty good motivator.

  2. N Pepperell November 21, 2006 at 10:10 pm

    Fair enough. I actually think it’s a nice idea – I also think the grad student writing group is a nice idea: there’s been discussion of starting something similar here, and I was involved in starting a more restricted version of something similar at another university – there, though, the group was oriented specifically around the theoretical dimensions of applied research – so, basically, we had a big enough group that everyone could present their “theory chapter”, and discuss theoretical concepts underlying their projects, but it wasn’t really an all-purpose thesis writing group.

    I saw your post to the group, by the way: hope I didn’t do anything wrong in linking to you here? You can always let me know if it’s problematic…

  3. Sarapen November 22, 2006 at 4:26 am

    Not at all, I was the one that mentioned the group in my blog in the first place. Funny how people keep asking me for permission to link to my stuff. Hmm, private/public distinction, propriety online, “my blog is me” . . . Ok, you’ve just given me an idea for something, thanks. I need to scribble this down somewhere.

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