Home Science CommunicationScholarly communication Correcting an error in my thesis. People from the future can’t mock me anymore

Correcting an error in my thesis. People from the future can’t mock me anymore

by Eva Amsen

I mentioned earlier that I had found an error in my thesis. The table numbers in one chapter were off. Man, I’ve told everyone about it. Everyone who saw the final bound thesis had to hear about the mislabeled tables. Everyone! But the more I told it, the less I cared. My supervisor asked me to correct the numbers by pen in her copy of the thesis. That was a bit traumatic – I don’t write in books with pen! Sacrilege! Other copies all have a printed erratum in them. The department secretary taped the erratum to the inside cover, after having suffered through the umpteeth rendition of my story about the table numbers.

But what helped me the most in getting over it was not the therapeutic power of talking about it over and over and over again, but something the binder told me: She said she could fix it! She could take out the pages and put in new ones and you wouldn’t be able to see the difference. Just knowing that it could be fixed made me decide to leave it. It’s not as permanent as I thought, so it’s not as bad as I thought.

Meanwhile, the electronic submission had the same error. That one will be released to the world under a creative commons license in June, and will go to the National Library.

I started imagining the future. Maybe in fifty years, something I offhandedly mentioned in my thesis is suddenly really important, and someone needs to look at it, and if they need any information from Chapter Four at all, they will find the mislabeled tables! Awkward…

I will not idly stand by and let future generations mock my lack of word processing formatting skills! I changed the table numbers, and e-mailed the thesis submissions people about the error in my thesis. They took down my old thesis this morning, and I just submitted the corrected version. There are still some typos in it, but I’m leaving those for character. (Okay, I forgot where they were…)

I no longer have to suffer the embarrassment of people from the future seeing my mislabeled tables. I just hope they don’t also read this!

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Sabine Hossenfelder April 13, 2009 - 7:14 PM

In my thesis there’s a paragraph that ends in the middle of a sentence. Doesn’t even have a period. It’s a full blown I-went-for-a-coffee,forgot-about-it, and nobody-every-read-it paragraph. My tables are fine though 🙂

Cath Ennis April 17, 2009 - 11:15 PM

I had a plasmid description in mine that said “contains the chicken gene”. (The missing word between “chicken” and “gene” was c-Jun). My examiners didn’t catch it, but I did, _just_ before the final corrected version went to the printers.

Heather Etchevers April 18, 2009 - 7:56 AM

Awww, Eva, you think that in 50 years they will be “making fun of you”:http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v458/n7238/full/458668a.html?
I remember thinking how g-d unwieldy my thesis was at 2 Mb with the pictures and how clever I was as the first in the lab to discover styles and use Word’s index function. This was way back when I was still on Macs, about contemporaneous with “Ian”:http://network.nature.com/people/im_brooks/blog/2009/04/09/changing-sides.
Since most of the introduction and discussion was well off track, I don’t draw attention to it much, except when I am looking for old pictures of data. Being worth a thousand words and so forth.

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