I submitted my PhD thesis in Summer 2008 and am more than a little ashamed that it’s taken me this long to put it up here.
There are lots of reasons for this. Mainly (a) Laziness. (b) A post-PhD feeling of ”Oh this is crap. I have to hide it, and possibly myself, under the largest stone I can find so no one will see how stupid and useless I am”.
It’s also because I was expected to try and get it published as a monograph – bound book in an exclusive handful of libraries – and opening it for anyone to see might compromise the chances of that. The main reason I haven’t sought publication that way isn’t (a) or (b), but simply because I think that it seems so ridiculously outdated and elitist a way to share anything. Yes, publishing it as a book would give it a good edit (though we all know people who simply went Ctrl-F “this thesis”, replace all “this book”) but really, I think I’d get better feedback generated by more people being able to see it. That provides a less-polished product, but overall it’s a greater win for scholarship. I’ve thought this for a long time, I’ve (perhaps stupidly) said so in interviews. It really is just laziness and lack of confidence that has stopped me putting it up here.
So here is it (links to google drive pdf), or at least an image-free version as the full file would be huge and also involves other people’s copyrights than my own. It’s a literary study of the Horrible Science books, in the sociological context of why and how adults write about science for children. Full title: Science as Pantomime: Explorations in Contemporary Children’s Non-Fiction Books. Conducted at Imperial College (2004-8), funded by the AHRC, supervised by Felicity Mellor and examined by David Buckingham and Peter Broks.
I’ve included it and more in an updated version of this blog’s “writing” page. Honestly, I think a lot of my academic work is pretty rubbish. Forcing myself to open it up will, I hope, make me make it better. I can also say that I’ve not published that much since I finished my PhD. This is partly because up until last November when I moved to Sussex, I’ve been employed to teach and do public engagment work, not research. It’s also because knowing that your writing is inaccessible to most of the more interesting people who might read it really isn’t much of an incentive.
We badly need to fix this system. I’m paid to write, but also paid to keep it this writing hidden. It’s stupid.