Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Academic flotsam

Or is that jetsam? I can never keep them straight. Whatever it is, I have a lot of it. After being a grad student for... way to long, I have accumulated hundreds of academic papers. Most of which I print out because as any good grad student, I intend to read them. And most of them are still in that stack of good intentions. In my defense I do read the abstract and the conclusions on most of them. (yeah, I know a weak, weak defense) But I have not had the time to truly digest most of the stuff I print out. In my few attempts to purge, I have often come across duplicate copies of some papers. Obviously it was good enough to catch my interest twice.

Frankly I do not like reading things on-line. I can't scribble derogatory notes in the margins, or put big question marks on the things I do not understand. And there is something tangible about being able to hold a piece of paper in your hand. However I see the inherent waste in this as more often than not I do not read more than a few paragraphs of the paper. So here is my pledge for the day, I will no longer print out papers or documents unless I am certain I NEED to make reference to it someplace where it will not be available otherwise. I will instead read them on-line and store an electronic copy if it is something that I will need again. I may not even print out my dissertation. It will make it easier and more environmentally friendly for my committee when they decide it is not worth the paper it is printed on.

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