Wednesday, March 5, 2008

The Turabian Deposit

Remember -- you read about it first here:

I was at a Doctoral Committee meeting this afternoon where we indulged in another round of therapeutic commiseration about the difficulties of proofreading doctoral theses for correct Turabian format. Not only is it a time-consuming process, but there is also the question of who is responsible to do it. It is not unheard of for the duties normally belonging to a document fellow to be lodged somewhere in the library where the librarian must become the angel with the flaming pen to guard the gates of decent punctuation.

Today, though, I was struck with an inspiration: Charge all hopeful doctoral candidates a Turabian Deposit equal to $2 per page of their submitted dissertation. For every page with a formatting error, the dissertation reader gets to keep the $2; for every page without a formatting error, the $2 gets returned to the student. This would serve three purposes:
  • It would incite students to exert real effort at proofreading.
  • It would help keep dissertations down to a manageable length.
  • It would provide some remuneration for what is usually an underpaid privilege.
"But," you say, "what about the dissertations without any formatting errors? Who would pay the reader then?" Somehow, I do not think that will be a serious problem.

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