A general announcement

I am flattered by the interest my dissertation has generated among my blog readers. I am seeking publication, and if that effort is successful, then it will be available to the general public. In the meantime, I am extremely unlikely to send you a copy of my dissertation if I have not done so already.

I know that in an ideal world, information would flow freely without everyone being so possessive. I openly confess that the academic system of using one’s research to gain recognition and career advancement is in certain cases detrimental to the general human quest for knowledge. Within the academic system as it actually exists, however, sending out the most important thing I’ve ever written–a document whose publication (or whose role as a seed of future published documents) will prove to be absolutely essential to my career advancement–to whatever stranger comes along is an imprudent move, to say the least. Plagiarism, whether intentional or not, really does happen, and recourse is hard to come by.

11 thoughts on “A general announcement

  1. Any thoughts on why there isn’t a preprint server for theology (as there is, for example, for physics and math: http://www.arxiv.org)?

    I know the degree to which these things have caught on varies among fields (or even sub-fields) but they seem to me like a good idea whose time is coming if it is not yet here (and which might even help to change “the academic system as it actually exists”).

  2. A clarification: The difference between publication (either UMI or a press) and me passing it out myself is that there exists a public and in theory universally accessible record for me to refer to in case plagiarism occurs, whereas in the do-it-yourself scenario, it would be simply my word against the plagiarizer’s.

    Of course, even being published doesn’t prevent plagiarism, nor does it necessarily allow for recourse — the consequences for the plagiarizer are so potentially severe that seeking recourse could wind up backfiring on the accuser (basically by making him look like a vindictive asshole, rightly or not).

  3. All dissertations and M.A. theses written in Canada are deposited in the national library in addition to the university library. (All committee members and examiners get one too–at great cost to the student; at least we don’t have pay for the binding.) There’s no system like this in the US?

  4. As with most things in the US, we don’t really have a “system” as such — just a decentralized and unreliable web of practices. Many dissertations are made available through a service known as UMI, but I don’t think it’s mandatory and I don’t know if my seminary participates in the system. As of now, my dissertation isn’t even listed on the library database yet.

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