‘Why have you recently made so much progress on writing up your PhD?’ barked the professor at the cowering student, as if this was a terrible crime.
The student looked at me from across the table, and I turned to the accuser.
‘Why are you asking this question in such a manner?’ I enquired.
‘Because I have some serious suspicions’ he replied.
The student gave a good reply, highlighting better understanding of the underlying issues, growing confidence in extracting ‘meaning’ from the data, improvements in writing style through practice etc.
When the account for progress moved to the recent publication that the student had co-authored with the supervision team, I made sense of the ‘serious suspicions’. My colleague was suggesting that I had taken over the writing of the thesis!
I soon put him right. It was flattering to think that he considered me sufficiently talented to write up someone else’s PhD, but he had forgotten that I work part-time and that I had been on sick leave for almost half the year.