How Graduate Students And Faculty Miscommunicate

The following list on the ways graduate students and faculty miscommunicate by Roderick M. Kramer and Joanne Martin, both professors at Stanford University, rings all too true, at least from my experience. How about you?


By Roderick M. Kramer and Joanne Martin*

What Faculty Say/what Faculty Really Mean

  • I understand why this is late./No I don’t
  • Take your time./Do it now.
  • Call me if you have any questions./Try to find me.
  • The ideas are good./The methods stink.
  • Interesting methods./The ideas stink.
  • The results are interesting./The theory is terrible.
  • This is a good first draft./This really needs a lot of work.
  • You might want to do a literature search./This study was done about 100 years ago.
  • I’m looking forward to reading this latest draft of you dissertation./How many is that anyhow?
  • This is really a nice piece of independent, scholarly work./Gee, I wish I were a coauthor.
  • I could use your help analyzing these data./I can’t make heads or tails out of this mess.
  • I think we are getting close to a final draft./You’ve got a long way to go.
  • You might want to think through some of the implications./Why haven’t you done so?
  • I’m glad you brought me up to date on your dissertation./Where have you been since last September?
  • That’s a reasonable interpretation of these data./It’s a lot better than mine.

What Students Say/what Students Really Mean

  • Here’s my draft; it’s still a little rough./I wrote it last night.
    *Do you happen to know anything about this topic?/Give me the citations so I don’t have to do a literature search.
  • What do you think of the theory?/The results stink.
  • What do you think of the data?/The theory stinks.
  • That’s a good point that I didn’t think of./I have no idea what you’re talking about.
  • That’s a REALLY good point./You have no idea what I’m talking about.
  • These are really good suggestions./What a pain.
    *The I transformed the data using acceptable multivariate techniques./I go rid of the outliner.
  • Support for the main hypotheses was week./Support was nonexistent.
  • I misunderstood your comment./I thought we agreed on this.
  • I guess I didn’t reason that way./If you think it through, it doesn’t make sense.
  • I guess I wasn’t clear about ./Didn’t you read it?
  • If you sign off so I can just file it, I’ll make the changes right away./See you same time next year.