Teacher Response to Module #1: (Precis)ely

Grades and additional feedback on Blackboard. Please read the feedback, as it is highly individualized and important for the progression of the class, as is the feedback from your peers.

A reminder about the genre system of a precis

So, as I said in class, you all knocked these out of the park. As a precis is obviously a confusing term for everyone but me, however, I think I will call this assignment a “theoretical abstract” the next time I teach this class.

I mentioned one use of this particular genre: when you go on the job market and have to summarize your 200+ page dissertation in a couple paragraphs. There are many other instances of this genre in academic circles, however:

  • Any application for funding, internal or external, requires this kind of concise statement of what you plan to do
  • Typically this genre exists as a kind of sub-genre, a literature review or theoretical framework, in any research article you’ll write for a peer-reviewed academic journal
  • Research articles also require you to write an abstract that precedes the rest of the article
  • When I query an editor about a potential article, I often compose the email as a very brief abstract of what my article would accomplish
  • Many job applications, in addition to requesting a dissertation abstract, will ask for a research agenda, which is closely related to the theoretical abstract: it’s a statement of what you will do during the tenure process, and what gaps in the literature you will fill with your research
  • Any time you are planning a research project, of any kind, you need to do one of these, at least as a mental exercise to make sure your project will add recognizable knowledge to your discipline
  • I think that many conference presentation proposals are versions of these
  • Most institutions require an annual review of faculty (and often their graduate students as well), and this review is typically accompanied by a narrative that links all the things you’ve done in the past year together, as well as explaining what you hope to accomplish the following year
  • An application for tenure similarly requires you to link up what you have contributed (both to your field and to your specific institution) during your time in the tenure stream with any projects you have that are ongoing

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