Thursday, September 01, 2005

The Missing Graduate

I visited my Mom a few days ago, and on our way out she was piling up little presents for me. Here's a bag of freebie Estee Lauder products, she said. Here are some articles I cut out of the paper for you. Here are some books I thought you would enjoy.

One of the books was a thesis. She found it at a used book sale. There were 8 copies, she said. It was from Seoul University, with the signature page in Korean, but written in English, on a topic pretty similar to my field. So, I could have read it and understood it.

The thing is, most people don't print more than about 8 copies of their thesis. So that was probably the whole set. It was recent, something like 2002. And even my mother knew it was potentially the saddest thing possible that they were all sitting there for sale for $1 each.

Anyway this got me wondering what happened to this poor person (for some reason I think it was a guy, with my limited knowledge of Korean names). Is he dead? Did he quit science? Did they revoke his degree for faking data? Why on earth would so many copies of his thesis be given to a community booksale?

I could have taken it with me, and I did consider it. I felt I could do a good deed by reading it. But I just didn't have enough room in my suitcase.


At 7:18 PM, Blogger Matthew said...

Harsh...of course, if I quit science I would have probably burned the copies of my thesis for heat before I sold them...who wants to know about paleontology anyway?

So what was the topic, anyway?

At 11:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

maybe suicide?

after the the realization that graduate school wasn't worth it? ;)

sorry.. black humor

At 12:04 PM, Blogger takchek said...

Most PhD theses are submitted electronically these days. Archived for as long as the university remains in operation, possibly longer.

Been reading your blog for quite a while now. I enjoyed it. :)

At 11:09 PM, Blogger dubiousbiologist said...

did you try to Google the name? PubMed search?

then again, if it is Korean then maybe it isn't in the US system.

At 12:29 PM, Blogger Ms.PhD said...

matthew, the topic had something to do with a ribosomal protein. so, cell & molecular biology type stuff.

anonymous- yes, maybe suicide. that was my thought too.

takchek- you're right, most theses are submitting and archived electronically and on microfiche, at least in this country. but why print hard copies then? and why so many?

madbard- you're right, i should have written down the name and googled it if i really wanted to know. it was a pretty common name, though, so i think it would have been hard to find a specific "Sung Lee" or whatever it was lacking very much other information about this person besides their thesis title, especially if they didn't stay in science and post their CV on the web.

At 8:32 PM, Anonymous prozac said...

Most of phd graduates in korea usually print about 20-30 copies of their thesis. Some people even print more than 50 copies, so to me, it is not so surprising that some of them end up at a yard sale. I guess the person might be getting a job or doing post doc in US and found no reason to keep his extra prints.
I just want to let you know that you don't have to worry about this person. :-)

- almost 30-korean-female graduate


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