Dissertation Guide

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Should I always use a computer?

“At least when I write by hand I don’t make any typing errors and therefore I don’t think about going back and correcting anything. Yes, computers make such a lot of positive difference. But if you’re struggling with sitting in front of a screen, try something else.”

“About three or four years ago I started having trouble with an elbow. I assume it was some form of repetitive strain injury. Presumably 20 years of typing had taken their toll, particularly as I’ve always been a one-finger typist. In the last three years I’m moved increasingly towards using a dictaphone. A typist types it up on to hard copy, and the hard copy then comes back to me, and then I make corrections.”

“I’ve just read an obituary of Neil Postman, an American academic who wrote twenty books and over 200 articles. Apparently Postman never owned a computer. He didn’t even have a typewriter. He wrote all his books in longhand. Then presumably he sent it to a typist. Computers are not compulsory. Some people say that they stop the flow of your writing, that with a computer you retrace your steps more than you do with handwriting – to correct typing mistakes or spelling mistakes with words you wouldn’t think about changing if you were writing by hand.”

“There was a study of thesis writers done in the late eighties or early nineties. I think nearly ninety per cent of them used a word-processing package at some point but nearly half of these actually did the first draft by hand and then typed it into the machine later. What I remember most was one student who never used a computer because it interfered with his thinking.”