Saturday, August 29, 2009

Guide to Conferencespeak

We thank gentle reader Tom for supplying us with this vital guide to the meaning of remarks made by respondants at academic conferences.

For those not blessed with regular attendance at such events, we explain the context. At an academic conference, scholars read papers about their research. Typically, someone then responds to the paper with comments. Here is a guide to what such comments typically are, and what they actually mean:

  • "You actually have two papers here" = this is crap, but if you were so inclined you could make TWO crappy papers out of it.
  • "I look forward to seeing the next stage of this project" = if you contact me again, I’ll call the university ombudsman.
  • "I'm confident that we'll see this paper in print soon" = if Highlights Magazine starts accepting manuscripts
  • "The results are novel and I hadn't thought it could work this way" = your findings are wrong and your theory is baseless.
  • "There's more literature on this topic" = you didn't cite my paper
  • "I recommend that you all read this paper." = Because if I was forced to read it, I'm going to make you all suffer through it as well.
  • "I really enjoyed reading this paper" = At least it wasn't as long as the others, and only had about half as many typos.
  • "I promise to send you more comments over e-mail" = Never going to happen because I didn't actually read the paper
  • "I would like to see the theory developed" = I skimmed it too quickly and I have no real clue what this is about.
  • "This paper is part of a larger project" = this dissertation chapter does not work as a paper, and the dissertation is probably just more of the same.
  • "The argument is interesting but I was not convinced" = this paper is far better than anything I have ever written, but I am ideologically opposed to the author's perspective.
  • "I liked the paper but have some thoughts about Table 3" = the only thing I did was skim a table and am going to suggest a few anodyne suggestions like "Did you think about squaring, logging, and interacting variable X? That might be really interesting."
  • "I'm going to keep my comments brief so we can take questions from the audience"= I am so hung-over.
  • "This isn't really my area of expertise, but I have a few thoughts..." = you morons are lucky that I even showed up for this [rude expression].
Scholarship is truly universal. This list applies regardless of the academic discipline.


Bryan D said...

my favorites are always: "Could you elaborate a bit more" = I'm a big thickhead but trying to decide if I might be able to use this in my dissertation.

"What about the ontoogy?" = I'm stuck in a historical theology department and this is the only thing I know how to dialogue on.

And, of course, there's always that guy from Oxford who just stands up and gives a 10 minute speech on his own (unrelated) research.

Micah said...

Circle jerk? Classy.

Jon A. Alfred E. Michael J. Wile E. SWNID said...

We confess that we weren't quite sure of the reference of that expression. But we think we can guess, at least approximately, now that you mention it. So we'll do a little censorship/editing.

Tom Martin said...

And I had edited the text before that, so you can imagine...