Pleasant timesink yesterday reading though these various pieces of advice by John Levi Martin. Given that they were all directed toward graduate students, maybe I should be embarrassed by how useful I found them in thinking about myself and my own projects. For that matter, while he meant to be talking to students with this bit of advice, I think it’s also sage from the perspective of the advisor:
Some advisors may want this or that, a literature review, whatever, and if you have to throw that in there to pacify them, so be it. Personally, when I have a student who is ready to start a dissertation, I say just write your name on a clean piece of paper and I’ll accept that. I don’t care about the rest. But that’s not in your interest.
Remember, folks who let you do nothing are letting you be an easy workload for them at the expense of your future. That’s often fine with us. Why would you want it, though?