February Pieces Of My Mind #1

båt
One of the librarians clued me in to a fast and lovely way to get from Fisksätra to the research library at the Swedish History Museum. Bus to Nacka Strand, commuter boat across to Blockhusudden, then a short scenic bike ride. Thank you Eva!
  • In the well containing the Coppergate helmet was also found an iron weaving batten. Wonder if they were deposited together. By a woman?
  • I think it’s a shame that the media rarely ask for the opinion of Doctor and the Medics on the front-page issues of the day.
  • Having friends with good libraries living nearby is excellent.
  • Duolingo rattles off these Polish phrases really fast and I don’t understand, but increasingly comprehension dawns a moment later, like crystals forming. It would be hopeless to understand a long speech, but if you give me a sec between sentences I may actually get the gist on certain subjects.
  • I printed too many copies of my PhD thesis 17 years ago. People use it, I got a ping from Google Scholar about a citation just this morning. But I was one of the first Swedish archaeologists to put my thesis online as a PDF, and that’s how most people read it. So I’ve loaded up the car and tomorrow I’m finally taking most of the remainders to recycling, about 140 copies of each volume out of a print run of 600. Mixed feelings. Grad school was not great and I spent way too many years on it. But I’m happy with how the thesis turned out. And I’ve published a bunch of books since under much better circumstances, learning a lot. And now I finally have the job I went to grad school for in the first place.
  • ”What a place! What a situation! What kind of man would put a known criminal in charge of a major branch of government? Apart from, say, the average voter.” Terry Pratchett 2004, Going Postal, ch. 2.
  • Got a bookcase today for the guest room from the free stuff website that I use to get rid of surplus gear. 6.4 glorious shelf metres! I’m moving my archaeo-library home from my dad’s house now that I’m back doing full-time research and neither Junior nor Cousin E is living with us anymore. Also all the CDs went out to the garden shed.
  • Hey wait, I haven’t actually done research full time since early 1999, because I used to spend like one day a week editing Fornvännen. And prior to that I had some coursework in grad school. So now is really my first full-time research gig!
  • 24 m/sec in the gusts.
  • Listen, traditional Italian ice cream makers. You need to stop making stracciatella. Solid dark chocolate only really tastes anything at body temperature. It’s just a bad idea to stick it in ice cream.

Author: Martin R

Dr. Martin Rundkvist is a Swedish archaeologist, journal editor, skeptic, atheist, lefty liberal, bookworm, boardgamer, geocacher and father of two.

20 thoughts on “February Pieces Of My Mind #1”

  1. “I printed too many copies of my PhD thesis 17 years ago. People use it, I got a ping from Google Scholar about a citation just this morning. But I was one of the first Swedish archaeologists to put my thesis online as a PDF, and that’s how most people read it. So I’ve loaded up the car and tomorrow I’m finally taking most of the remainders to recycling, about 140 copies of each volume out of a print run of 600. Mixed feelings. Grad school was not great and I spent way too many years on it. But I’m happy with how the thesis turned out. And I’ve published a bunch of books since under much better circumstances, learning a lot. And now I finally have the job I went to grad school for in the first place.”

    That hurts. Would you mail them to people who want them?

    Are there cubicles, kiosks, whatever where one can leave books and take others? I’ve seen them in many places, but haven’t been to Sweden since 2015! (That’s the longest gap since I was there the first time in 1983, a two-week cycle tour of Scania with the days still long and temperatures about 25 Celsius.)

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    1. Before I took the remainders to recycling, three people asked for copies and I mailed two sets today. But now I only have 15 sets left.

      There are a few book-swapping places here and there, some of them in the communal laundry rooms of apartment buildings. But they would not have been a good place to offload over a hundred three-volume sets of books about prehistoric Gotland. (-;

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      1. “But now I only have 15 sets left.”

        Save one for me and I’ll collect it when I am next in Stockholm, when I can tell you the story about how I almost moved to Gotland, even though I had never been there before.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. “Listen, traditional Italian ice cream makers. You need to stop making stracciatella. Solid dark chocolate only really tastes anything at body temperature. It’s just a bad idea to stick it in ice cream.”

    I disagree. Most things chocolate taste better either cooled or even frozen: M&Ms, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, regular chocolate, etc.

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  3. Printing a PhD thesis? I am used to the American system where you correct it after the defence and file 2-5 copies at your university and maybe the external reviewer’s university, and the German system where you revise it into a book incorporating the corrections (my main academic project right now). Was your Doktorarbeit so tidy that you thought of the book as ‘my PhD thesis minus three typos’ or do you mean something else?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The Swedish system is ridiculous on one hand in that you print your thesis before the defence, which means that all the work that the opponent and the committee puts in just evaporates.

      The Swedish system is on the other hand pretty good because no thesis is left unpublished. In other countries it can often paralyse a whole field of inquiry for decades when everyone knows that there’s an unpublished doctoral thesis on the subject.

      Both of these aspects only really apply when you’re dealing with monographs, as opposed to “thesis by publication”, i.e. collections of journal papers. The latter is the norm in nat sci.

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      1. I have a couple of Swedish Ph.D. theses in natural sciences on my office shelf. They consist of an introductory section plus a bunch of publications (not all with the student as first author, and some in the midst of the review process). I do not know if they were published in advance of the defense, but they were published by [city name here] University Press. Caveat: both theses were from the same department, and both students had the same Ph.D. advisor.

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      2. The introductory section is known as the kappa, the “coat”, and usually contains very little of any additional interest over and above the papers that follow it.

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      3. More interesting, the Swedish system (or, at least my hazy memories of it) encourages the same process for a doctoral thesis, as it does for a Master’s thesis. And at least for the MA/MSc, at least at some universities, the custom is tha the thesis is handed to the opponent with ~2 weeks to look at it before printing, just in case there’s a problem that needs fixing.

        Not, mind you, that I defended (nor opposed), but I do have several friends who were going through that while I was busy not getting a degree.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Sounds like a very good modification of the system current in archaeology 20 years ago. At that time there were a few cases where presentations had to be postponed because the book had been printed and both opponent and committee said “You’d better not present this, because we’d have to flunk you. Go away and write a short supplementary work.”

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      5. Yes Ingvar, in the countries I know a Master’s or PhD thesis has to be showed to an external reviewer (outside your department for the Master’s, outside your university for the PhD). The idea is that it provides quality control and prepares graduates for the academic peer-review process. If the advisor is wise and caring they also use it to give the student a prominent contact outside their local academic community. Funds to fly the external reviewer back and forth can be an issue in Canada, in Austria they can just send a report.

        I hope Martin did not mind my question, I was just surprised. Selling 460 hardcover copies of your first monograph is impressive!

        Liked by 1 person

      6. I hardly sold any at all! I always send my books around for free to libraries, journals and scholars in the respective field to give them wide exposure.

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    2. Martin, where did the money for printing come from? Today the cost for 1800 hardcover volumes would be in the high thousands of Euros. In my field, finding a grant to print your Doktorarbeit-turned-monograph can be a challenge (some American presses are experimenting with a ‘free PDF + for-sale hard copy’ model but not the old, famous academic presses).

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      1. All my research projects have been funded with small grants from private foundations. Printing and binding 400 copies of the English version of the castles book last year cost $3000 including sales tax. Graphic design cost $3600.

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      2. [ actually a reply to your comment to me, but the threading seems to be insufficiently deep ]

        Sean, for a Master’s at my alma mater, your opponent would be another student (typically someone who was in the process of preparing a master’s thesis of their own) and both defending your own thesis and opposing someone else’s was required for being awarded the degree.

        But I think the typical print size for a master’s thesis was 10-20 copies (two for the institution, one for each of the university library branches, one for the opponent, one for the advisor and as many as you wanted for self, family, and friends). All this from memory, it was after all quarter of a century ago.

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  4. I also figured out the good reason why archaeologists are not so impressed with the Achaemenid period in Iran: from Khuzestan to oasis central Asia in Afghanistan and Turkmenistan, burials are archaeologically invisible. There are =five= known small cemeteries from the period in all of Iran, and the person who wrote the handbook thinks two of those may be later.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. “Having friends with good libraries living nearby is excellent.”
    Having good libraries nearby is even better. You can make random discoveries.
    A few days ago I noticed at the local library (about 3 minutes on foot) a bilingual booklet called “Finskogar – Metsäsuomalaiset” that tells the story of the Finns who moved in 16th and 17th centuries to Sweden and Norway. And I immediately thought about your unknown foremother. The booklet was published in 2015 by the Finnish National Museum in connection with an exhibition they were having. It doesn’t have much text, but there are images, and a few dozen references.

    Liked by 1 person

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