five abiding academic fears

  1. The latest book manuscript disappears. It’s almost done and it would be unbearable to lose it. I can’t even comprehend coming back from the loss, having to rewrite it all. But it won’t happen. It really won’t. No, really. I have multiple copies, the publishers have a first version, as do reviewers, it’s in the cloud, it’s on my back up drive etc etc. Still I worry.
  1. My reference library disappears. One day I wake up and it doesn’t work anymore. Oh hang on, that has happened. That’s when the various platform developers don’t talk to each other… the new version of word doesn’t talk to the bibliographic software and the help line just says yes and the website says don’t trash your old copy of word because you’ll need it for a while as we sort out our new compatible version…. Yeah right. As it happens I didn’t trash the old version because I’m suspicious of all of you. The lot of you, every last one.
  1. I lose the thesis I am examining. Well it’s never happened but it could. Really, it could. And I would look, and I would be, so unbelievably stupid going back to the university (and the doctoral researcher) saying that I can’t find the big book any more. Hardly a vote of confidence in your examiner is it? But I guess that they’d replace it and what I’d really lose is face.
  1. I forget to turn up for a viva. I’ve switched my diary entirely over to the digital and it regularly seems to lose things and get confused across different time zones. I’m still recovering appointments from the invisible early hours of the next day, a legacy of when I was away at New Year in Australia. I can live with missing meetings and messy appointments and I’ve got used to fessing up to having not managed conflicting appointments as well as I might. But it would be unthinkable – no, the trouble is that it’s entirely thinkable – to manage to miss a viva.
  1. One of those emails offering me millions of pounds from a distant dead relative, those emails that I just trash as soon as I see them, is actually true. One of those emails telling me to change my password and check my balance because I have weird new transactions is true. One of those emails telling me to change my email password in ten days is true. Oh hang on, it was. I’ve been locked out of my email once before because I didn’t recognise the difference between the real IT and the fake. Well, they look so similar, anyone could do it. It took a long wait and then a phone call to get it back, but I’d rather it didn’t happen again. But how to know which of the multiple scams might just be the real one?

1700 block 14th Street NW, Washington DC. 30july09

IntangibleArts, Flickr,  Creative Commons licence.

Really? Not afraid eh. I wonder how far that would get me.

Oh well then –  just call me Paranoid Patter.


About pat thomson

Pat Thomson is Professor of Education in the School of Education, The University of Nottingham, UK
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7 Responses to five abiding academic fears

  1. lenandlar says:

    6. Are they going to accept or reject my paper 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. 7. My Dropbox doesn’t work on my old Mac anymore. And I don’t have enough storage on my laptop to keep all my old PhD data. Something has gone wrong and now I CANNOT FIND MY DATA.


  3. S.T.Cherry says:

    Reblogged this on Carter's Blog Corner and commented:
    Persistent thoughts (and fears) these days …


  4. Jane S says:

    Nightmare on Final-Year-of-Doctoral-Research Street: Windows 10 downloads itself onto my PC without even a ‘by-your-leave,’ and wipes out Windows 7 and four years work in the flick of an eye.
    And I can’t get at my Dropbox or the cloud; I can’t make the flashdrive work, a file copy emailed to myself is lost in the aether, and the back-up CD-RW thingie simply laughs at me.

    Please tell me these things won’t happen?
    *Makes resolution*: print out, print out, print out …
    Hard copy’s better than no copy at all. 😦


  5. Sue says:

    Great post. I am a midwife in another part of my life (part academic/part midwife).
    In the most stressful times of my PhD, my dreams (aka night terrors) were about going back to sleep after a woman had called me in labour or attending a birth and forgetting to visit the woman and baby postnatally. My fears go to my midwifery, not the academic things!

    The things that stressed brains do to balance everything – it means we are human.


  6. Jessica says:

    I hear YOU!! the footnote software has definitely been playing up and at this final final stage, it is not good for my nerves… I have saved the document in parts and in whole on different computers, different clouds, just in case… obsessional is a trait to get a PhD done , right?:)

    Liked by 1 person

  7. browney237 says:

    The Hard Drive on your laptop fails just as you hit send to the printer to bind your thesis.
    Yes it happened!
    My paranoia paid off as I had the all but final of my Honours Thesis on Dropbox, One Drive,SD Card and External Hard Drive. I’d also emailed it to one of my children!
    So now I embark on the PhD journey with my new laptop.


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