A modest question: Should we abolish the PhD degree?

Russell Turpin deafbox@hotmail.com
Wed, 29 Aug 2001 17:09:05 +0000

Jim Whitehead writes:
>Which means, ironically, that Russell and I both attended SIGSOFT'93 
>without apparently meeting each other...

Oh, my. I can't believe you would forget the presentation
I gave at an academic conference a short eight years ago.
Maybe I need a makeover. Where the heck was that one held?
I know I was there, I remember presenting the paper, but
I can't remember what city. Perhaps we did meet, after all.

The core idea was interesting, but it doesn't really
have a practical niche, something I didn't realize when
I proposed it, though it was pretty clear by the time I
finished it. There was a subsequent research project
based on my dissertation, resulting in the SIGSOFT paper,
funding for three graduate students, and two master's
theses. The third student, who was pursuing a related
dissertation, made the very practical decision to drop
his graduate work and join some company in Redmond.
Given the timing, I suspect he was the wisest of us all.

The source files are in FrameMaker, and if I can find
them in the attic, I will put them on the Web. Someone
else will have to make the pdf, since I no longer have
FrameMaker. Unless, like Jeff, you read dissertations
as a soporific, I doubt it is worth the trouble.

Jim, my views of the academy are much closer to yours
than to Jeff's. My question is aimed solely at the
process by which it develops new academicians, rather
than being a fundamental gripe. I published only a
handful of modest papers, and did not go into academia.
So you might dismiss my questioning of the process as
coming from someone who does not sit in the right
position to judge it. But I am not the only source of
such rumblings. And as a scholar, you should not
dismiss questioning too quickly, just because it comes
from an unfavored position.


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