Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Of thesis and reports

How many of you really read a thesis or an academic project report? I have attempted few out of sheer interest in the topic, but frankly, I couldn’t read anything more than a couple of pages. Don’t you think it is so every irritating to read them, with all those superscript asterisks and numbers and all sort of funny notations which silently says “ Hey there, now stop reading this and bring your eyes to the bottom of this page, if you ever want to make heads and tails out of what follows”. Now we take a detour to the bottom of the page, printed in the finest of the prints or worse to the end of the chapter or even worse to the so called Appendix, get that clarified and get back to where we left.
By the time we get back we lose track of what ever we read and we might need to start from the previous paragraph.
This continues more or less like a cycle (like the infinite IF..THEN loop), until we finally get what the author means with the help of those references. These footnotes occupy about one fourth (if not more) of the page. When we proceed to the next page, after an hours struggle with the current one, there will be a reference to the Fig 2.1.4 (a). Now we will have to halt there and search for that horrible figure which might be in any of the pages. Same with the Table 1.34.4 and Illustration 17(w). The next sentence says ‘ As already mentioned in Chapter 2, Page 3, Sentence 14..’, which takes us to the said sentence and make us get back. Incase if the reader is still awake, there comes another reference in form of a superscript numeral, which makes us sift few pages to the end of the section.

By the time you finish the first few chapters, you would not be wondering how did you manage to pull out few strands of your own hair.

Seriously, if the real intention behind a research is sharing the newly found knowledge and for the benefit of he majority of the society, why on earth can’t it be in simple language? Why do academicians want to insist on following the above fashion? Mostly because, “Well, it has been always done this way”.
On second thought, may be those reports are made in such a way that only the deeply dedicated and genuinely interested people go through it completely, and still be sane.

Don’t you think this need some refinement and make it more readable?

With the advent of putting up research papers on the Internet as web pages, this could be reduced to a great extend. Those horrendous detour symbols can be replaced by hyperlinks, which could also have some pop-up (like a tool tip) on hovering the mouse over the link. Long live www.

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