PhDs in texting

Even academia is going in for the ‘marketing hype’ route of getting across a message. And just as in the world of government and commerce, there’s no point letting the truth get in the way of a good story.

My dad’s wife told me today that a woman from Birmingham was on TV last night… “she’s got a PhD in texting”, and as I’d been reading an article in the current issue of Sociology on much the same I wondered if it were the same person.

Anyhow, the story in the papers is that ‘A student has become the first person in Britain to get a degree in texting.’ (Mirror) and ‘CLEVER Caroline Tagg has become the first person in Britain to get a degree in text messaging.’ (Express)

Now this seemed unlikely… texts have been around for a while, and the Ruth Rettie article in Sociology looked like it would have been based on her PhD. Luckily you can check a database of theses called EThOS at the British Library. And of course, the Rettie PhD on mobile phone calls and texts is listed there (2006) and a search on text messaging reveals two PhDs from 2007 (one on messages in Greek, and another on the social and psychological effects of SMS. So Caroline Tagg has not become the first person to get a degree in text messaging.

So where was the mistake made?

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