Discarded Research Questions from My Dissertation: A Non-Exhaustive List
When working on a dissertation, one of the most crucial components is its research question. It is the argument’s overall purpose–essentially the question the author aims to answer with his or her kajillion-page opus. Having waded through an obscene amount of academic literature on possible topics for the better part of this summer, I recently sat down to take my first stab at my own research question, and thought I’d share some of the questions that didn’t quite make the cut:
1. If a tree falls in the forest and there is no one there to hear it, who gives a crap?
2. What are the longitudinal physiological and psychological effects of allowing an old man to knick knack on various parts of one’s body prior to rolling home?
3. To what extent does a random sample of people report whether or not they let the dogs out?
4. Where’s Waldo? (A Case Study)
5. In the event of seeing a little silhouette-o of a man, will a sample population do the fandango? And furthermore, in the presence of very, very frightening thunderbolts and lightning, will they let him go? (The researchers hypothesize that bismilah, no, they will not let him go, even despite numerous protests.)
Thanks so much for browsing in on such short notice. I know we’re in the midst of The TwinfaMaui Saga, but dire circumstances have prompted this brief interruption. I don’t have much time, so I’ll get right to the point.
Just a few days ago, scientists at the Twinfamy Research Labs unearthed a lost and long-forgotten relic from the elaborate network of catacombs beneath the Pseudonymous residence: the (tw)infamous Dead Draft Scrolls. For those who don’t know, this highly sought-after artifact is a hard drive containing sacred ancient writings of the Pseudonymous people, including drafts of compositions that really ought to be New York Times Bestsellers by now (and surely would be had yours truly realized how much free time I had before becoming a parent).
Among these legendary texts is a collection of war stories from my career as a middle school English teacher, a stint that ended in a blaze of glory as I was summoned to stay-at-home greatness. The writings are dated 5 B. T. (5 years Before Twins), placing them around the year 2006.
As you can imagine, there was much rejoicing in the Twinfamy camp, as my Prodigal Brainchildren had been found. However, it is with a heavy heart that I report one of these pieces is already missing.
Which is the reason I’ve called you all here.
Keep Your Eye on the Beh
In addition to my groundbreaking research on closet zombies and whatever sustainability is, my Ph. D. program has also provided the opportunity to learn computer programming–something I’ve wanted to do for years but never had the time or resources.
This has had to happen fairly quickly, as on the first day of the semester, one of my professors had my classmates and me each introduce ourselves along with our programming experience, since it would be a foundational element of the class. Having been awake since 3:15 am with my sick son, I’d just chugged two Venti coffees in order to be a functional human being, so as you can probably imagine I was already feeling incredibly chipper and eager to learn.
I grimaced as I listened to my colleagues’ alien technobabble:
“Most of my experience is in Java Frappuccino Monty Python Venom Script with Pirate Eyepatch Death Star Optimization Support.”
“I’ve dabbled in C-Minus-Plus-Ampersand Continuum Transfunctioners, but I’m most comfortable with Skynet Flux Capacitors.”
“I created the Allspark.”
Sustainability All Through The Town
In addition to classes, a significant portion of my work as a student involves conducting research, and I’m thrilled to report that I recently learned two academic papers I co-authored and submitted to highly-regarded conferences were both accepted and will thus be published. Having never submitted to anything of this caliber, I’m floored to be batting 1.000, and as hard as I work to keep my world spinning, it’s a nice little payoff. I’m convinced the scales were tipped in my favor due to my inclusion of the very same bow-wearing stick figures, pop culture references, and fecal humor you’ve come to expect from this fine publication.
While I have been explicitly forbidden by a gaggle of ninjas to disclose the details of these two strokes of genius before they are published, I will share a new research effort I’ve spearheaded, which involves public transportation. You see, one of the hippest new buzz words in the academic community is “sustainability”–a term I’m convinced some prolific professor coined while drunkenly slurring his words together at a snooty dinner party and that now everyone pretends to know the meaning of. Anyway, I figure if I put “sustainability” in the title, NPR listeners will flock to it like birds who flock to things that birds like, so it’s probably a good career move.