Dissertation Dilemmas


available at: http://tiny.cc/94guky

Well, it’s that time of year again which sees the libraries of universities packed to the rafters with students who desperately wish they’d:

i] Started work earlier

ii] Chosen a totally different topic for their dissertation

iii] Chosen a totally different course of study altogether [personally, a degree in Lego-building would suit me down to the ground!]


iv] Been studying at the university where Dr Who is currently residing – he could, surely, just take them a month or 2 into the future , just in time for their graduation party 🙂

Since academic proofreading is one of the services my company –  Starfish English Services – offers, I have been glued to my computer for the last few weeks desperately wondering whether bi-variate needs a hyphen, [it doesn’t], whether ‘smoothening’ is a word [it can be, but usually ‘smoothing’ is best] and other such considerations. However, sometimes everybody’s brain needs a break, so I thought I’d share a couple of common errors for your information TOTALLY FREE OF CHARGE! How generous is that?

One such error is ‘people that…’ or similar. When discussing people, the word needs to be ‘who’ [or whom, but that’s another topic altogether]. So, ‘the politicians who passed the resolution…’ but ‘the experiments that proved…’. OK?

Another one, very important to get right, is ‘objectionable’ or ‘objective’. ‘Objective’ is when a case is looked at from a neutral, impersonal point of view, with no hidden agenda or bias. ‘Objectionable’, on the other hand, means unpleasant, offensive, rude….definitely not the way a researcher would want to conduct their survey!

One final point, which isn’t as clear cut, is when to use ‘that’ and when to use ‘which’. I found this really helpful blog post about it and, as I doubt I could put it any more clearly myself, I’ll just leave you  with the link.


PS – In conversation with the worship leader at our church, as I shooed him out of the kitchen we’d just set up for serving the after-service tea and coffee, I found myself saying

‘Don’t you dare disrupt this kitchen; we’ve only just rupted it’!

I reckon I’ve maybe coined a great new word 🙂


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