ain’t too proud to beg

Well gang, depending on your take on me, this is either a worthwhile effort, or some kind of rock-bottom for lack of self-awareness, or something in between. I figured it was worth figuring out by trying.

As regular readers know, I live a cash-poor but fulfillment-rich life. Right at the moment, the cash-poor part of that has got me in a bit of a pickle. As I’ve moved on to the dissertation stage and am post-coursework/post-prelims, I’m taking only one class, Statistics 502. It satisfies no requirement for me; I just want to know the things that I can learn in that class. I have, through a long process of learning and (especially) relearning in classes in research methodology and statistics, become confident in statistical topics like hypothesis testing, confidence intervals, binomial and hypergeometric distributions, statistical significance, correlation and regression procedures, chi-square testing, ANOVA procedures, and similar. As you might expect, my understanding is concentrated in areas useful to literacy research, applied linguistics, and language testing. What I would like to do now is deepen my understanding of both the theoretical and mathematical underpinnings of these techniques, while acquiring a few more tricks to keep up my sleeve. 502 gives me that opportunity.

Anyway: the textbook for 502, Applied Regression Analysis and Other Multivariable Methods 5th edition, is $178 on Amazon, and I can’t afford it. I’ve looked for other options and nothing’s panned out. Unfortunately, it needs to be the 5th edition. I won’t bore you with the details of my inability to pay for it other than that there’s been some expected and unexpected expenses in the recent past, and I’m strapped. Not in a “can’t pay the rent” sense, but definitely in the “can’t pay for a $200 textbook right now” sense. As regular readers know, I avoid taking on student loan debt for straightforwardly self-interested reasons. I am up for some grants and fellowships, several of which I have a strong chance of getting, but they are explicitly post-prospectus stage, and I am not defending until the middle of next month. (Here’s an overview of my current dissertation plans.) So I figured I’d ask my readers to crowdfund it through GoFundMe.

This is charity, obviously. It wouldn’t be the first time I’ve been helped by the generosity of my readers. Since back in the L’Hote days, I’ve had a public Amazon wish list, and I still get books bought for me from there fairly often. I’ve gotten almost three dozen in the last two or three years, which is a kind of generosity I couldn’t have imagined. I have a complex, probably bogus ethical stance on this stuff, one that I wouldn’t apply to others but am applying to myself. I wouldn’t ask for you guys to fund most things, but for some reason, I’m willing to ask you to fund this. The book is $178 on Amazon (I’ve got Prime so no worries on shipping), and I added enough to represent GoFundMe’s take, which is 8%. (Something to think about.) I have absolutely no intention to make this sort of thing a regular event.

There’s a lot of side conversations you could have about this– the vagaries of the textbook industry, the foolishness of my various life choices, how little grad students are paid, the utilitarian case that this $194 would be better sent to Africa, etc. You can feel free to make those arguments in the comments. For now, I’m asking for help if anyone cares to give it. I appreciate $5 or $10 or whatever. I’ll post a picture of the book if I reach my goal. As an added bonus, 502 is a notorious jump in difficulty from 501, and having a crowdfunded textbook will shame me out of even thinking about dropping the class. I can make do without the textbook for a week or so, and if I can’t get it, I can always drop the class without penalty for a couple more weeks. Not a tragedy if that happens, obviously.

We’ll see! Thanks!

7 Comments

  1. Is it necessary that you own the book, or could you rent it just for the semester? I looked through Direct Textbook, and there are some places offering it for rental in the range of $80. I’ll chip in some money either way.

    1. It’s a fair question. I would like to own the textbook, even though it’s true that most of the information within, aside from the data sets and questions, can be found online. But a good textbook can be a valuable thing. The bigger thing is, boy, I just have a hard time paying that much for something and then sending it back. I know that’s probably a bit irrational, but it’s a powerful resistance. Then again, in a crowdfunding scenario, maybe the ethics of that changes.

  2. I think I just kicked the last $10 needed for your goal. Good luck, Freddie. 502 won’t be that bad. I’ve coached fellow grad students through worse, and been coached through even uglier. Press on! Just remember: The only way out lies forward!

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