Hmmmmm. Well, I guess it isn't exactly a surprise that just because you're a graduate student working on a dissertation you're necessarily a good writer. I can cut the STEM folks some slack in this area. They just need to write well enough to communicate their research. However, while I can't speak for the social sciences, it seems that the primary fields in which writing really matters are the humanities. In the humanities, because your work engages so closely with other written texts, what you have to say (your research) is intimately caught up in how you communicate it to others.Dear recent Ph.D.,
In Fall 2010, Dr. Very Important Campus Administrator established a Graduate Writing Task Force to devise a plan to enhance existing graduate writing resources and the quality of graduate student writing. The task force’s recommendations included the creation of a writing resources website that focuses on general resources, but also discipline-specific needs.
Because you were previously selected for Prestigious Graduate Fellowship and thus identified as an outstanding doctoral student who has acquired useful knowledge of the dissertation writing process, the Graduate School invites you to participate in a focus group that will help determine the design and content of the Graduate Writing Resources website. We anticipate convening the focus group sometime in February.
If you are willing and available to serve as a focus group member, please contact me by February 3.
Sincerely,Postdoctoral Associate for Graduate Education Administration
Sorry, I'm rambling. I guess what I'm trying to say is that this seems like campus administrative bloat to me -- another attempt by overpaid campus managers to justify their existence (just reread the job title up there -- couldn't make that shit up if I tried). Such a resource for undergrads makes sense, and many such sites already exist, at Grad U and other institutions. But for graduate students? If you're a STEM person and your writing is so bad people can't understand you, you should hire a tutor and possibly an editor. You deserve to have to pay extra if you're that horrible. If you're in the humanities and you can't write, you probably should drop out long before you finish your diss and hit the job market ... because you will be TOAST. Burn your early diss drafts and maybe give business school a shot.
Maybe I'm being overly harsh and judgmental. Why not help graduate students? A website of writing resources that targets dissertation writing could be just the support some poor struggling ABD needs to get through to the end.
Except ... did it occur to Dr. Very Important Campus Administrator that, since I haven't adjuncted at Grad U in a year, I might have some other job, like, off campus and during normal business hours? How in the world would I be "available" to commute an hour each way for a one-hour focus group? And I should do this, even if I were still adjuncting or otherwise working on campus, as a form of "service," I suppose??
Hey, I got news for you, you high level college administrator types, "service" only counts if you're on the tenure track. Can we work on converting some of those adjunct positions maybe? In my old department, adjuncts outnumber tenure-track faculty 2 to 1. If you could do that and pay me, oh, roughly what I'm currently earning as a freakin' secretary, and offer, maybe, if not tenure, at least multi-year renewable contracts so I'd have some job security, I might consider coming back and doing for a living what you are here acknowledging I'm very good at.
Then I'd be happy to participate in your focus group ...