"In many disciplines, for the majority of graduates, the Ph.D. indicates the logical conclusion of an academic career." Marc Bousquet

Thursday, December 8, 2011

"Real World" Lessons from Academe: Back It Up, Bub

A series of frantic phone calls and emails exchanged today:

Think Tank Boss: "recent Ph.D., we need you to do some research. Think Tank Project Director put out a press release on Subject X and is now being harassed by Politifact to back up what ze said. TTPD needs sources ASAP that argue in favor of Subject X."

Me: "Sure, no problem."

Think Tank Boss: "And get sources that are NOT from the industry association that supports Subject X. Those could be considered biased."

Me: "Sure, no problem."

So, I go poking around Google and then Google Scholar (since I no longer have remote access to the databases at Grad U) and a few other places. Subject X is not really all THAT controversial, and Think Tank Project Director hasn't said anything particularly novel about it. And I have no trouble finding some peer-reviewed sources that back hir up. All I can access, though, without either paying money for one-time use or going up to Grad U, are abstracts. Possibly this is good enough, and so I forward the abstracts, appropriately highlighted, along to Think Tank Project Director.

TTPD to me on the phone minutes later: "Oh, this is great! Thanks for sending this along, but is there any way we can get the full documents? This Politifact reporter is seriously on my case. Ze is just LOOKING for something to catch me on. I already sent hir my original sources, but ze rejected them, because they were all either industry publications or just abstracts, like the ones you sent. Ze wants to know I have actually USED good sources to back up what I said."

Me: "Well, I can go up to Grad U and get the full text for you. Or, the quickest way to get it, if you want to pay the $30 per article the web database services are charging, you can download them yourself right now."

TTPD sending off sparks across the phone wires, bristling at the Politifact reporter for having the audacity to ... check facts: "Oh, no, I don't want to send you all the way up to Grad U for this. I'm sure you have other things to do in the office."

Me: "I wouldn't mind at all. I'm always eager for an excuse to go to the library."

TTPD: "No, no. You said I could pay to get these? How do I do that?"

I explain how to do that and we hang up. Fifteen minutes later, TTPD calls again.

TTPD: "You know, I'm here today at Southern State's statehouse, and they have a library, and it seems the library subscribes to the journals. And I found the articles right here in bound volumes on the shelves! So, I'm just going to, I think, make copies and scan them and send them to the reporter!"

Me: "Great. Glad you found what you needed. Hope it does the job."

*     *     *     *     *

Libraries. Wow! Who knew that's where you were supposed to go do your research? Ideally, you should do it, you know, BEFORE you turn in a paper or ... put out a press release, but, hey, better late than never.


1 comment:

  1. Ahaha...Duh...wow...libraries really can help can't they! I love the photo!