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Monday, December 14, 2009

Scholarship is complicated, hence the need for simplicity

Scholarship is inherently complex: the ideas themselves involve interrelations among many different elements. Major projects entail years of work. It can be difficult to keep track of bibliographical citations and research materials over time. Hence the need for a streamlined approach: having only one major project at a time; striving for clarity of intentions and clarity of expression; making the project only as complex as it has to be. You don't want to simplify your ideas, but you want to analytically separate their genuine complexity from the spurious complications that come from unclear intentions and stylistic verbosity.

Sometimes if you strip away the excess verbiage from your thesis, you might be disappointed: your thesis is rather obvious, even clich├ęd. I believe a thesis for a paper, article, dissertation, or book in non-technical humanties field should be something that you could explain in clear language to your mom or non-academic uncle. At the same time, it shouldn't sound merely trivial to the expert in the field. Having a very clear thesis will help to keep your focuc over the long haul.

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