Academic talk (offensive to professors)

What the professor means
By J. Timothy Petersik
from the Chronicle of Higher Education

Says: You’ll be using one of the leading textbooks in the field.
Means: I used it as a grad student.

Says: If you follow these few simple rules, you’ll do fine in the course.
Means: If you don’t need any sleep, you’ll do fine in the course.

Says: The gist of what the author is saying is what’s most important.
Means: I don’t understand the details either.

Says: Various authorities agree that…
Means: My hunch is that…

Says: The answer to your question is beyond the scope of this class.
Means: I don’t know.

Says: You’ll have to see me during my office hours for a thorough answer to your question.
Means: I don’t know.

Says: In answer to your question, you must recognise that there are several disparate points of view.
Means: I really don’t know.

Says: Today we are going to discuss a most important topic.
Means: Today we are going to discuss my dissertation.

Says: Unfortunately, we haven’t the time to consider all of the people who made contributions to this field.
Means: I disagree with what roughly half of the people in this field have said.

Says: We can continue this discussion outside of class.
Means 1: I’m tired of this – let’s quit.
Means 2: You’re winning the arguement – let’s quit

Says: Today we’ll let a member of the class lead the discussion. It will be a good educational experience.
Means: I stayed out to late last night and didn’t have time to prepare this lecture.

Says: Any questions?
Means: I’m ready to let you go.

Says: The implications of this study are clear.
Means: I don’t know what it means either, but there’ll be a question about it on the test.

Says: The test will be 50-questions multiple choice.
Means: The test will be 60-questions multiple guess, plus three short-answer questions (1000 words or more) and no one will score above 55 per cent.

Says: The test scores were generally good.
Means: Some of you managed a C+.

Says: The test scores were a little below my expectations.
Means: Where was the party last night?

Says: Some of you could have done better.
Means: Everyone flunked.

Says: Before we begin the lecture for today, are there any questions about previous material?
Means: Has anyone opened the book yet?

Says: According to my sources…
Means: According to the guy who taught this class last year…

Says: It’s been very rewarding to teach this class.
Means: I hope they find someone else to teach it next year.


Lots of good details about running a Journal Club in a school.

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