Laurie Taylor column

March 23, 2001

More complaints about the current rate of pay for acting as external examiners for PhDs - THES , March 16.

Lapping speaking.

Ah, Gordon. Charles here. Charles Daventry. Uttoxeter. Media Studies.

Charles. How are you, old chap?

Not too bad, Gordon. Look, sorry to bother you but we are having a little trouble finding an external for one of our PhD chappies. I've not read the thesis myself but the internal examiner tells me that it's something to do with soap operas so I thought it might be your cup of tea. Round about 500 pages if you include the appendices. We would, of course, be offering the normal fee of £35 plus a second-class saver ticket for the day when you come up for the viva.

I'd love to help, Charles, but...

Listen, Gordon. Let me be frank. The internal also tells me it's a pretty clear pass. You wouldn't need to read the whole damned thesis. Just flip through research background and methodology and go straight to the conclusions.

I'm really not certain...

And at the viva you'd only need to spend 20 minutes chatting to the candidate about Coronation Street , another ten minutes writing 50 words about it being wholly original and suitable for publication, and Bob's your uncle.

I simply don't have the...

Suppose I threw in an MA dissertation on the side. Something straightforward about the internet and globalisation. Only 100 pages long and another clear pass. We could give you £25 for that and double up the rail fare on the grounds that you'd had to come up twice.

Well, as long as you can guarantee no referrals.

You're a brick, Gordon. You know, I sometimes wonder what would happen if there weren't people like you around.

People like me?

People who're determined to keep up academic standards.

Ah, those sort of people.

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