Friday, May 30, 2008

From thesis title to book title

I was browsing through PhD Comics, aka "Piled Higher and Deeper," a comic strip for grad students, and came across this strip about the thesis title. Here's the sequence of components:

1. witty catch-phrase: "Makes people think you're hip and culturally relevant. Only marginally related to the actual thesis? No problem."

2. the colon: "Can't decide what to title your thesis? Use a colon!"

3. length-enhanced superlative verbiage with prolixity: "Nothing says 'academic rigor' like a long string of scientific-sounding terminology and fancy buzzwords."

4. in/of/for: "A good preposition tells your readers, 'Hey, this is not just a futile exercise.'"

5. obscure topic few people care about: "Sad, but true."

How accurate is this analysis? Well, as a case in point, my own master's thesis was titled "Singles at the Crossroads: A Practical Theology of Singleness for Generation X," which is not nearly as obscure as many thesis titles out there. It was accepted for publication by IVP, and after about fifty pages were added and at least a hundred more were cut, it was eventually published as Singles at the Crossroads: A Fresh Perspective on Christian Singleness. It's unusual for a book to be published with its original title, but I had intentionally titled my project as building on the work of Rodney Clapp's excellent Families at the Crossroads. And we just scheduled a book for 2009 with the title Marriage at the Crossroads, so the series continues!


Jeremy Stoner said...

The Ph.D. comic strip is right on target. I completed my doctorate back in the mid-90's and the title had all of these included. (i.e., "Dancing With Shadows: Stylistic Attributes of Impressionism in Selected Works by Horton Foote.") A bit verbose and "egg-headish" to say the least, but it secured me my Ph.D. LOL. Keep up the great work you're doing here.

Tim Wright, Ph.D.

Unknown said...

Of all the possible title formats, I most frequently use the colon, as well. (Though, I admit, I intentionally stayed as far away from writing an honors thesis as possible...) For my 5-7 and 10-12 pg papers though, the colon was definitely the way to go.

I didn't realize Singles was your thesis, nor that there was going to be a new Crossroads book-- very cool.

Michael said...

As a Ph.D. student myself, I particularly liked number 3. It hit the nail on the head. . . . And I always use the colon.