Revisionist advice

August 2, 1996

A frustrated psychology professor at Simon Fraser University in Australia has issued the following advice on writing undergraduate essays. Avoid the library and stay at home among your well-worn texts: those books cost good money and something can be twisted out of them. Eschew original papers and books - you can find a potted version elsewhere with the main points improved by recycling.

Give no clue as to where the paper is headed, especially in the first paragraph or two. Write in a dull manner - instructors are paid to put up with tedium. Talk about "ongoing treatment" and "viable solutions". Do not worry about grammar and spelling - instructors feel needed when they correct singular subjects with plural verbs, mismatched pronouns and random apostrophes. Wait until the last minute before writing - Dostoevsky and Dickens could churn it out under pressure, and so can you.

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