Folks, we’ve got another “Dear Historiann” letter that is really a request for ideas and advice from you, the wise and experienced commentariat at Historiann.com. Tenured Professor Wanda wonders what the heck should she do on a master’s committee when the student’s thesis is literally indefensable, but the student’s advisor won’t admit it.
In a few days’ time I will sit on the exam committee for a master’s thesis that is not ready to be defended. I stopped the defense once already because the document was not comprehensible. This time it is comprehensible and it turns out the work is, in my opinion, no good. I got a second opinion on this from a colleague with relevant expertise and ze agrees. We are on a tight timeline. The revised thesis was given to me with only a few weeks to spare before the last day to defend this term and I didn’t have time to read it until a few days ago.
It is not surprising that the thesis is poor because the adviser knows very close to nothing about the subject area of the work. I actually know more about the topic area and I would not have agreed to advise it. The problems with the thesis come in many flavors, from basic knowledge flaws, to methodological errors, to unsupported conclusions. I have talked with the student about some of these issues in the past but ze disagrees with my concerns. It did not ever seem an option to steer hir toward a better analysis. This is, in my opinion, the fault of the adviser. Continue Reading »