Monday, November 24, 2014

An Opportunity Lost

This weekend provided a wonderful trip down memory lane…almost. Due to my misfortune, I want to take a moment to talk about retaining your own work.

While most of us keep copies of our term papers, it is important to retain some record of all of your writing. You never know when it could come in handy. For example, this previous weekend there was a call for papers related to WWI. I was ecstatic, knowing that I had written a little paper on American propaganda during the Great War for a class sophomore year. While it wasn't complete, it would be fairly simple to convert a little class assignment into a presentation for the conference. Easy submission, as I already had the thesis for the paper constructed, it just needed some fleshing out.
From Microsoft Clip Art.

Once I got home, I scavenged through my hardcopy files with all of my old papers. After three hours of looking, no paper. Dang. I also still have all of my emails related to major writing assignments (I was smart enough to transfer them to my new email address). It should be there. Four hours later, I realize that I still have the emails about the assignment and the email with my grade, but no paper. Sad day.

My face when I realized it was gone. From Microsoft Clip Art.
Now for the soapbox speech (or in this case, the blog plea). Hang onto your work. It doesn't matter if it was a little two page writing assignment or a full thesis (though I certainly hope you would keep a copy). Figure out a method of storing them (I have an expanding file), preferably both in hardcopy and digital forms. It may seem like a packrat concept, but if you hang onto the little works that you've produced you will come out ahead. Every scholar runs into writers block now and again. Imagine what would happen if you're trying to find a topic to present on, and you have a magical collection of ready-made projects.
Figure 1 A non-successful storage method employed by Mr. Einstein
Photo from:

That is what the products of a BA can be used for. Granted, they will probably be rough ideas (because we all know they came out of frantic all-nighters), but they are a starting point. A starting point, if you were a successful student, which includes bibliographies ripe for expanding on topics. You'll never have the chance to work on thirty different theses in a semester (without going insane) again, nor will you remember all of the lessons covered in those crazy class hours. Many of us end up pigeonholed into a single area of research, so these can be a nice way to break out of a rut by exploring a different era, topic, or approach.

If you are currently working on a High School Diploma, Associate's degree, or Bachelor's degree hang onto your original papers. They might seem like rubbish for the junk drawer, but they are in fact useful tools for further research, and they are a good way to assess your progress. The best part, if they aren't published or haven't been presented they are fair game to you (not for unscrupulous friends trying to avoid doing their own work, keep that in mind). Don't lose an opportunity like I did.

Happy researching and please comment with any suggestions on records retention you have.

P.S. Have a Happy Thanksgiving.

From Microsoft Clip Art

1 comment:

  1. Good advice. And in case you someday can't find the story of your suit, I still have it.