Quantum of solace

October 1, 2009

Having recently been awarded a doctorate, I would like to thank George Steiner, the literary critic, for inspiring me on my quest to resubmit my thesis.

I was devastated when I was asked to resubmit after the viva voce. I lost my enthusiasm for the thesis and could not see a future for myself in research. An inspiration for me to keep going was a video on YouTube of Steiner being interviewed about his life. I was amazed to hear him tell how he had failed his doctorate outright the first time around: it took him two years to rework the thesis, which was successful.

Here was an eminent academic, the last person I would have guessed had gone through a similar experience. If someone who had achieved as much in the academy as Steiner had faced the same challenge and succeeded, so would I.

Within six months of being asked to resubmit, I had done so. And three months later, I was working on minor corrections before submitting my final thesis. Steiner's work was never relevant to my PhD, which is based in health-services research, but his words were a quantum of solace to me.

Now I am a doctor of philosophy, I regret that I did not thank him in my acknowledgements, as his interview on YouTube (in part) inspired me to keep going.

Donald Nicolson, PhD.

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