Cheap Scholarly Fast Food for Thought

Like many an other confronted with articulating the dull, I too am forced to figure out ways to hammer out a collection of words that I call ‘writing’, so that it makes sense (sort of), or at least that my intention to disregard intention is clear.


Sadly, I can’t rely on Ward and MacKay’s (2002) epic entitled “Fast hands-free writing by gaze direction” in which “a method for text entry based on inverse arithmetic coding that relies on gaze direction and which is faster and more accurate than using an on-screen keyboard” is articulated.


Instead this badly crafted artifice fashioned by hands much like yours will attempt to speed-write something scholarly with unclear intentions (how dare I). My own personal wisdom, which, you should carefully ignore sounds much like this:


“Write like it doesn’t matter. Write whatever you feel like and wormhole in whatever direction you wish. Write without stopping and write persistently. Write without fear of perishing. You never actually know where it will lead, and this may be a good thing. Time it then go do something interesting.”


A scholarly speedster, however, must still consult the potential gurus of the write-fast ashram. We are drawn to look for our ‘shoulders to stand upon’. We are constantly gazing for others who have generated, researched and/or written verbal asanas that may have contended with just this type of impractical exercise, in order to support our own writing.


But you have to know how to look and I certainly am no expert on the search engine. In other words a search term placed in quotes, like “speed writing” in google scholar revealed about 3570 results. Go ahead try that and be pleasurably disappointed. Why the top 5 entries seemed to be an exploration of patents and technological processes to increase the speed of writing is beyond me. Easy for me to say that a “method of a high-speed writing system and high-speed writing device” (Bachmann, 2006), although compelling, was not really a solution I happened to be looking for. Nor was a “high-speed laser direct writing of tungsten conductors from W (CO) 6” (Nambu, Morishige & Kishida, 1990) of particular relevance to my perambulating cause.


Back to the search box I found myself with zero results for “speed writing scholarship”, “writing scholarship quickly”, etc.. Then I found the holy grail of 0.07 second results, quickly uncovering the wise axiom that “fast scholarship is not always good scholarship” (Martell, 2014). Then my jaw dropped further down as the assertion was reinforced by Durose and Tonkiss’ (2013) “Fast scholarship is not always good scholarship: Relevant research requires more than an online presence”. Try as I might to ignore Durose, Tonkiss, Martell and most real scholars I’ve encountered, there is truth in what they say. Simply writing fast scholarship is no testament to the quality of that writing. This is often a critique of the PhD student, the hackademic and the blog, let alone one which attempts to #embarassinglyreinvent the scholarly.


That said, many of us burdened by the pesky day-to-day activities that take us away from writing must learn to articulate our ideas clearly and quickly, no matter what the writing happens to be about. So why not extend that impulse to scholarly writing, or are we stuck in romantic notions of needing to refine, refine, refine until the writing is a perfect morass of meticulous mundanity? Mitchell (2016) hits it on the snobby nose in his writing on open scholarship when he claims that “speed’ carrie[s] with it the negative connotations of ‘fast’ (‘fast scholarship’ sound[s] a bit like ‘fast food’) and ‘free’ the negative connotations of ‘cheap’.


What a perfect segue to assert that this cheap fast food writing is not searching for affirmation, criticism nor rancor. It is perhaps an exercise in criticizing the mind-numbing monotony, which, sadly much academic writing has attempted to emulate. And when I say much, I don’t mean all. And when I refer to that type of mundane writing that as a student once eloquently stated “bores the shit out of me”, dear reader, please don’t assume I’m referring to your writing. I’m likely referring to mine own.


Goetz, Frenzel, Hall, Nett, Pekrun, and Lipnevich (2014) solved the problem by cleverly operationalizing five types of boredom as demonstrated by students in an experimental study. In their investigation “four types of boredom [were] differentiated based on degrees of valence and arousal: indifferent, calibrating, searching, and reactant boredom. I’ll let the reader experience the article in order to decide for themselves if the authors remained integral to what they were studying by the degree to which they aroused you.


Since I began this exercise at 8:53 pm on a Sunday evening on the second of April in the year two thousand and seventeen, I would like to rush to a close so that time (9:45 pm) can force this improvised wormhole of an article to an anti-climactic close.


Perhaps the best way to finish this article who, as the reader will recall, had very little going for it in the way of intention, is to stick to the fast food metaphor when it comes to re-imagining scholarly writing. Yet, I’m not sure that the metaphor is precise enough, since I doubt this overcooked little fried chicken of a commentary will gain wide acceptance and be consumed by countless overweight stereotypical ‘americans’. Perhaps a better metaphor might be found in Cram, Nallamothu and Fendrick and Saint’s (2002) ‘Fast food franchises in hospitals’. I also doubt that the article will be templated and sold cheaply as it will likely not be appealing to all palettes, even those tormented by hospital ‘food’. No, if there is any value whatsoever in speed writing the scholarly, it is to avoid the ploy of many an article: to create in one way or another, through quantitative or qualitative methods, some form of significance whether statistical, or in its original meaning.


And so without further ado, we end this evening’s distraction with a critical cadence.


Rapidly Retrieved References


Bachmann, R. (2006). U.S. Patent No. 7,145,554. Washington, DC: U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.


Cram, P., Nallamothu, B. K., Fendrick, A. M., & Saint, S. (2002). Fast food franchises in hospitals. JAMA287(22), 2945-2946.


Durose, C., & Tonkiss, C. (2013). Fast scholarship is not always good scholarship: Relevant research requires more than an online presence. LSE Impact of Social Sciences11.


Kikuchi, M., & Akamatsu, N. (2001). Development of speedy and high sensitive pen system for writing pressure and writer identification. In Document Analysis and Recognition, 2001. Proceedings. Sixth International Conference on (pp. 1040-1044). IEEE.


Kröll, S., & Tidlund, P. (1993). Recording density limit of photon-echo optical storage with high-speed writing and reading. Applied optics32(35), 7233-7242.


Goetz, T., Frenzel, A. C., Hall, N. C., Nett, U. E., Pekrun, R., & Lipnevich, A. A. (2014). Types of boredom: An experience sampling approach. Motivation and Emotion38(3), 401-419.


Martell, L. (2014, September). The slow university: Inequality, power and alternatives. In Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung/Forum: Qualitative Social Research (Vol. 15, No. 3).


Mitchell, P. (2008). The Politics of Open-Access Publishing: M/C Journal, Public Intellectualism, and Academic Discourses of Legitimacy. M/C Journal11(4).


Morishima, M., Honda, K., Noro, M., & Tsuji, N. (2001). U.S. Patent Application No. 09/772,786.


Nambu, Y., Morishige, Y., & Kishida, S. (1990). High‐speed laser direct writing of tungsten conductors from W (CO) 6. Applied physics letters56(25), 2581-2583.


Takasu, H. (2000). The ferroelectric memory and its applications. Journal of Electroceramics4(2), 327-338.


Ward, D. J., & MacKay, D. J. (2002). Fast hands-free writing by gaze direction. arXiv preprint cs/0204030.