Straight Dope As Excellent Practice For Academic Papers

I’ve only been here a short while, but one thing that keeps running through my head when I am on this board is, "What a good thing it would be if students spent some time posting here before doing their essays or senior papers or even theses.

Defining my terms:

Essays=Not a short-answer thingie on an exam, but something that requires several paragraphs.
Senior papers= Some schools require a somewhat significant work of original composition prior to be awarded a Baccalaureate degree.
Thesis=What you have to do in a lot of U.S. Master degree programs. Involves both the paper and a defense.
Dissertation=Out of my experience, being one of the Great Unwashed, but my understanding is it’s essentially a book-length tome of original research and thus out of the scope of my question. Still, I do sometimes wonder, but by this time, I am assuming the survivors have probably gotten the process down.

So, what do you think? Would spending time here for a while, say 6 months to a year, significantly improve a student’s success in doing these papers?

Speaking personally, it has only reinforced lessons painfully learned in grad school, but I keep being reminded of how important it is to write correctly and keep in mind your sources. For the sake of modesty, I will refrain from linking to some of my embarrasing mistakes here…which, contrary to some beliefs did not get the skin stripped off of my body…you folk are very precise, but also very polite and generous if one is genuine and takes the time to occasionally apologize for a mistake…

I’d like to see the high standards carried over into many other places, and there have been a couple of times, I’ve thought that my students would benefit from reading the threads in Great Debates. However, the adult tone of conversation is inappropriate for most students, and I dread what the inundation would do to the rest of the site.

As a College Prof. turned non-profit exec…I’ll chim in and say these boards have wonderful resources and the individual acumen of many on these boards for specialized areas is superb. However, sometimes a little trip to the library can have similar results if undertaken properly. But the library can be distracting at times as well.

To the OP I think that yes, these boards can provide a great resource…

I think the biggest benefit of the SDMB would be in allowing a student to test his or her line of reasoning. If someone posting in GD uses faulty logic it will be found very quickly. I think that is a harder thing to learn to do well than looking up references. I don’t think we could help evaluate the actual writing, it being too long, but extracting the argument (or constructing the skeleton of one) could be done.

You’re aiming at the right level also. Dissertations are too specialized for this board, though someone might get lucky and find an expert.

One of my professors has started requiring a reaction to reading each night before class on a message board that she’s started, graded on quality of reaction and use of good logic, grammar, and spelling. I saw that in the syllabus and smiled- this place has prepared me well.

In the final season of The Sopranos, Dr. Melfi came to suspect that her several years of therapy with Tony Soprano, rather than helping to cure his sociopathy, were actually just permitting him to sharpen his skills as a “con man,” liar, and manipulator, which he could then put to good use in his criminal endeavors.

Yes, I feel that my time as a Doper has provided useful practice for my real-life exploits.