*tears at hair with hands and has a few selectively violent thoughts*
Okay, so. My man has started a Master's in Software Engineering, and one of the classes he's taking is on IT Management and Communication. He has to write two papers a week, one a breakdown of a case study and the other a research paper on a particular topic. This week's topic was on the advantages and disadvantages of telecommuting.
Please note that when I say research, I don't mean that he should be expressing any original ideas or interpretations. That's looked upon negatively by this particular instructor. Rather, he should be referencing a large number of sources and compiling a uselessly informative word vomitorium, properly cited. So, fine. The instructor's not looking for insight, he's basically looking for a series of definitions and statements of fact. Ooo-kay.
I help my man insofar as I look up relevant sources and sometimes read them first to make sure they're applicable to the subject at hand. Today, we read a wonderfully ridiculous paper entitled, "Exploring the Telecommuting Paradox." Sounds perfect. Let's commence.
I should say that the majority of my professional writing experience, either as writer or reader, is either in fiction or in papers that are hard science. Very hard. There's not a lot of room for bullshit in a paper on MEMS devices or, say, "Multi-Scale Pore Morphology in Vapor-Deposited Yttria-Stabilized Zirconia Coatings." For people who don't understand the science, these papers are insensible anyway. The scientists aren't trying to make them accessible to the majority, because the majority doesn't really care.
So now, going into a sphere where investigations of a softer, more person-oriented nature are taking place, I started out with the assumption that because so much of the scientific jargon was being dispensed with, the authors would take the time to make sure what they were writing at least made sense to the average reader. I mean, "Exploring the Telecommuting Paradox" has nothing to do with physics, there's no math involved outside of some very brief statistical comparisons...okay, lay it on me.
Please, let me share an excerpt: "For instance, the influence of family, peers, superiors, and subordinates were all seen as relevant to the decision to telecommute. This suggests that a particular group of people either believes one should telecommute or overtly encourages one to do so."
Does it really? What an amazing insight! Amazing for its ability to tell us nothing at all. Are those groups listed encouraging the individual concerned to telecommute or not to? Who comes down on which side? It's never specified. The rest of the paragraph doesn't help. The paper is filled with mockeries of the readers' intelligence, or, to think about it in a kinder light, examples of the authors' own inability to express themselves clearly.
Why am I perturbed, you might ask? Because these kinds of classes are a bloody expensive waste of time. They're the classes a university puts in front of you to get through before you get to the good stuff (I mean, for fuck's sake, my man's a research scientist. By all means don't ask him to draw logical conclusions based on the data you give him, no, that would be foolish.) and the source material is at times so poor, I have to wonder who the fuck gave the author the all-clear to put it out there. Just...GUH! ARG! *smashstabflail*
Higher education is ostensibly so valued in this country, and so inexplicable at the same time.
***Let me add one of my favorite useless definitions from another paper we read last month: "Work system life cycle model: the model of a typical work system lifecycle." Clear as mud! Thank you for using your definition to define itself, that helps sooo much! Jackass!
Okay, I'm sorry, I'm done. I'm going to go do something enjoyable for a while. Write some Love Letters, maybe. By the by, I know I'm very far from a perfect writer, I absolutely do know this and I have the reviews to prove it. But no one is going to be basing their thesis or grade off of something that I write. Or if they are, wow, can I come and get a PhD in Speculative Erotic Fiction with you? :)