academic integrity

I may not be the brightest bulb in the box, but at least I’m honest. Observe:

Thursday night I was finishing up a (minimum) 25-page paper. It was an expansion of an earlier 12-pager, so the groundwork was already laid. I had all my new information and an outline for easy integration. I was set. So wouldn’t you know, I ran out of material at 19 pages. I was stuck. And getting pissed.

So, I walked away. I did the dishes. And while I was scrubbing, I came up with a few ways to incorporate some less relevant information. (Side note: I hate having to make irrelevant things relevant. They’re not.) I was padding out my history/context sections, my cultural relevance section, my continuing legacy section. Not exactly the focus of the paper, but I could make it work.

Got back from washing the dishes, thinking, if I can get another 3 pages out of this, I’ll be okay. That’ll only bring me up to 22, and that’s with footnotes, but whatever, I’m pretty over this.

Resigned to take a B on the paper, I did one last quick search for any sources I might be able to use, and wouldn’t you know, I found an entire dissertation on my topic that somehow I had missed before. Which, hallelujah, focused on marketing strategy, the section of my paper which was most sparse. I WAS SAVED.

So I mined that dissertation for all it was worth… and got to the bottom of the 24th page. So close. It was about 3:30am, and I started coming up with ways to add just one more page, when I said, screw it. I’m going to bed. I’ve got all of tomorrow, I’ll come up with another page before I edit.

I woke up in the morning with a pretty good plan for adding just one more page, but decided to just do some layout cleanup before I tackled that. You know, making sure fonts/font sizes were all the same, margins consistent, that. So, as I’m reconciling the fonts in a copy/paste block of text, I see the fonts changing as I mouse over them to get to Garamond. And a little light goes off in my head: they’re all 12pt, but they’re changing sizes. Some of them must take up more space. So just for the hell of it, I switched the paper to Cambria… and gained five pages. Solid 29-pager. The end.

Here’s the thing, though. I grew up with the advent of the word processor. My generation was the one who figured out all the tricks to making text seem like more than it is – font sizes, margins, +1 font size for punctuation. Changing the font should have been my first move. It never occurred to me that Garamond was holding me back.

I’m unsure whether this makes me uprightly honest or just kind of dumb.

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2 Comments

Filed under story time, this actually happened

2 responses to “academic integrity

  1. rebecca

    It’s always patently obvious when students changed the font to gain space. Their papers lack depth and look ridiculous. Good on you for actually trying to write the paper.

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