Hazards of Dissertation Data Collection

I sometimes get a little overly focused when collecting data. Kyphosis much?

I’m about to enter Week 10 of data collection here in Spain, and over the past month or so I’ve started to notice some unsettling trends.

  • I wear variations on the same two “nice-ish” outfits to the museum every day, and within half an hour of beginning work I am coated in dirt, water, bone dust, regular dust, or some novel combination of all four. I am starting to think that next summer it might be more efficient to just purchase a set of mechanic’s coveralls and have done with it.
  • I  have lost the ability to comport myself like an upstanding member of society. As soon as I get near bones, all social niceties are immediately abandoned – I sprawl out on the floor, ziploc bags of ulnae radiating out around me in disorganized spokes, or perch on top of cabinets, examining tooth cusps in the better light provided by the window that opens onto the street. Given my pallor and propensity for furrowing my brow when I’m identifying dentition, Spanish passerby have likely begun to believe sort of malevolent spirit is haunting their provincial museum, though no one has yet made the sign of the cross after seeing me.
  • As soon as I am left alone in a room I begin humming unconsciously. I think it is because I’ve been spending a lot of solo time in the basement, and this is my brain’s way of trying to convince itself there is another person present.
  • I become inordinately happy whenever my necropolis MNI goes up, for no real reason except that I have begun to equate more people with greater success – it’s kind of like a prehistoric mortuary version of the gold stars you used to get for good behavior in elementary school. “Another individual today! Wow, I feel great about myself!”
  • Perhaps as a result of the progressively increasing amount of dissertation-related isolation over the course of the summer, the hurried notes that I jot down at the end of the day have taken on a slightly animate, anthropomorphic tone. This, at least, is not entirely a recent trend (And I’m pretty sure the singular is “a caries” and not “a carie”, but give me a break – it was the end of the day!).

talking bones

  • As regards  domestic life, telling  highlights of  my increasing levels of distractedness this week  included:

(i) purchasing the incorrect size of lightbulb for a light in my apartment, and then unscrewing the wrong light fixture when trying to replace the bulb;
(ii) dumping a batch of oatmeal into a bowl of sauteed garlic and onions, instead of the bowl of chopped up apple next to it;
(iii) gratuitously over-seasoning every dinner of the week because I have, without fail, selected the large opening on the container of pepper every single time.

Your brain on your dissertation: not a pretty sight.

That said, I spent all of today listening to the Beatles, staring at site maps with my head tilted to one side, inventorying individual burials (very exciting as I’ve been working on collective, commingled material all summer), and six and a half hours just flew by. In fact, it was one of the best Fridays I’ve had in awhile. Hope your end of the week was just as enjoyable. And if you too are collecting data for your dissertation, may the odds be ever in your favor!

This entry was posted in Dissertation, Grad School, Impending Doom and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Hazards of Dissertation Data Collection

  1. Pingback: Identifying Human Teeth: The Premolars | Bone Broke

  2. Pingback: New Blog: Mortuary Archaeology of the Râmeț Bronze Age Landscape | Bone Broke

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.