A Ph.D. Thesis Consists of Transferring Bones from One Graveyard to Another

J. Frank Dobie? Susan Riley? Joseph B. Mohr? Anonymous?

Dear Quote Investigator: Performing scholarly research requires scrutinizing bibliographies carefully, retrieving tomes conscientiously, and examining text closely. Afterwards the researcher must construct a thorough bibliography for their own creative work. A wit crafted the following humorous description of the process:

Doctoral research is similar to moving old bones from one graveyard to another.

Would you please explore this saying?

Quote Investigator: In 1943 “The Saturday Evening Post” published an article titled “Maverick Professor” about University of Texas English Professor J. Frank Dobie who specialized in folklore and rural Texas. Emphasis added to excerpts by QI: 1

The mere fact that he is that rare phenomenon, a full professor without a Ph.D. degree, is enough to rile some of his fellow faculty members. Nor does his attitude exactly promote good will.

“I early learned,” he has said, “that a Ph.D. thesis consists of transferring bones from one graveyard to another.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading A Ph.D. Thesis Consists of Transferring Bones from One Graveyard to Another

Notes:

  1. 1943 September 11, The Saturday Evening Post, Maverick Professor by Jeanne Douglas and Liz Wharton, Start Page 14, Quote Page 61, Column 2, Saturday Evening Post Society, Inc., Indianapolis Indiana. (EBSCO MasterFILE Premier)