My name is danah boyd and I'm a Principal Researcher at Microsoft Research and the founder/president of Data & Society. Buzzwords in my world include: privacy, context, youth culture, social media, big data. I use this blog to express random thoughts about whatever I'm thinking.

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academic humor

God i love PhD Comics. Right now, my working dissertation proposal title does have a colon in it. And some fancy buzzwords. Rather than wit, it has a symbol. Of course, it’s only a mod of a title i’ve been using for my MySpace stuff generally which makes me uber lame… [“Why American Youth (heart) MySpace: Identity Production and Digital Publics”]

I don’t know if there are other academics reading this, but i’d sooo love to hear your dissertation titles… I sent this comic to a few friends yesterday and it made me giggle to think how stereotypical we all are in our title creations.

Six more days and counting.

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15 comments to academic humor

  • I actually read this cartoon earlier today and printed out my own copy . . . as I struggle right now with a dissertation title, I’m following the strategies outlined here. 😉

  • Mine is:

    “Making Sense of Doctoral Attrition in Library & Information Science”

    Alas, I didn’t have that handy guide to help me when I crafted my title.

  • Fawn

    I’m still working on mine. Right now is “Multiliteracies, popular culture, and identity construction: Understanding the social ecology of informal digital literacy practices”

  • Danah,
    I’m still working on mine as well, thinking of ways to include some humor into it.


  • I might have missed something on that phd comics page… but what they should *definitely* have is a Dissertation Title Generator. Now… I found a title generator at:

    But that’s just if you want a title for Orwell’s “Animal Farm” (been years since I’ve taught that. Some programmer… please… think of the doctoral candidates… and the puppies… make a Dissertation Title Generator!

    Anyhow… good luck with yours Danah. I would recommend the post colon gibberish to be in “text-message-ese”… just a thought.

  • Current paper title?

    The Flesh Machine Doesn’t Want Our DNA: Better Living Through Bad Chemistry and Good Media for Disability Activists

  • KF

    I apparently had the guide:

    The Anxiety of Obsolescence: The American Novel in the Age of Electronic Media.

    Short on jargon; long on prepositions.

  • “Towards an Anthology of Spanish American Women Poets, 1880-1930”

    But I’ve committed many paper titles that had the colon and the jargon!

    How about “Naked in the Wilderness: Mythic Landscapes, Bodies, Patagonia, and Mars”

    Pomposity *and* the word “naked”!

  • We play this game with conference presentations also. Some eye catching title, the inevitable colon that the boring stuff. For instance:

    Oh My God Look At Those Tits: A cultural study of British Christian ornithological societies

    Who Died and Made You President?: A Study of Vice-president Inaugural speeches.

    Fun for the whole family.

  • One of my professors in a history of journalism seminar actually had a class on the elements of a paper that gets accepted for presentation. One of the main elements was that the title had to have two parts separated by a colon. It worked for the paper I sent to an association that semester. 🙂

  • Ha, spot on. Stephen Brown talks about this at great length in one of his books. My Undergrad dissertation was called Postmodern rock music consumption: An introspection

  • Ken

    “Principals, Agents, and Distant Markets: The Role of Information in Non-State Market-Driven Environmental Policies”

    I was going to go with “Invisible Hand, Distant Mouths,” but it seemed … well, unseemly.

  • Yes, when I saw that cartoon I thought it was hilarious!

    My dissertation title was “Dynamic Planning: The Application of AI Planning Advances to Project Management” — seems I fit the pattern 😉

  • my last dissertation title was (translated from french):

    “Generations X/Y: between Media representation and self representation”

    or something….

  • Bernie

    coming out of the bias closet: clarity and community in alternative media discourse – snore

    PhD: round one – just like above:
    “Managinge to connect: The relationship between social structure, social support and personal something or other”
    PhD: round three (proposal accepted):
    “Networking in Everyday Life” – short sweet, fits on a postage stamp.