Friday, April 11, 2008

People! Write your own bloody essays! Buy your own bloody datasets!

There are lots of emails I never reply to, such as this below:

Hi! I am a student of communication studies at xxx in xxx. I am writing an essay for my course xxxx and I have read about your work and know you are an expert. Can you help me? I would like to interview you on the following questions:

1. Why do young people like to buy brand name goods?
2. Is it a kind of status symbol?
3. How is this phenomenon related to our society?
4. Is this a capitalist phenomenon?
5. Is this a youth problem?
6. Will young people waste a lot of money or get addicted?

Thanks a million! I look forward to your prompt reply. You can call me 6xxxxxxx or email.



And here's another one:

Dear esteemed professor xxxx,

I am a student at xxx and am doing a course on xxx. I come across your writing and am keen to seek your expert advice. I am writing a paper on xxx which is highly relevant to your work. Can you please answer the following questions? You can send it to me as a MS Word file (preferred).

1. How many foreign domestic workers are there in Hong Kong?
2. Why are there so many of them?
3. What are the problems they face when working in Hong Kong?
4. What are the characteristics of their employers?
5. What are the problems faced by the employers of these workers?
6. Do you think these workers are taking away jobs from local women?
7. Do they cause other problems to our society?
8. What do you think about the future of this problem? Will it go away?
9. What other issues can you think of are related to the above questions?

Thank you very much for your time, sorry for causing you trouble. I look forward to your answers. Have a good weekend!


And then there is this below, which I actually made an exception and replied to. Only because I think it is the instructor who is the idiot, not the student:

Dear Professor xxx,

My name is xxx and I am a final year student at xxx university doing a course in xxx. As part of our course assessment we are required to replicate the statistical work in a published journal article. I came across your paper xxxx xxxxx xxx and am very impressed with the methods you use. Can you please kindly send me your original data set so that I can replicate your work? Thank you very much.


I replied as follows:

Dear xxx,

Thank you for your interest in my paper. The data sets I used for the paper you mentioned were purchased from the Census and Statistics department, which cost a total of $xx,xxx dollars. I had to sign an undertaking which specifies that the data is used for academic research only and is not to be duplicated or shared with other parties. Please contact the C&S Dept if you wish to purchase your own set.

Please tell your course instructor that you can find a list of freely available datasets at this website, which also lists the research published using these sets http://www.xxxxxxx.xxx

1 comment:

Karen Fung said...

People like this make me hesitant to self-publish my communication essays on Creative Commons on my website. That said, perhaps I write about post-modernism enough to not be worthy of being copied. :)