It’s been a while since I’ve updated the weekly log thing. After Chinese New Year I haven’t prepared myself for doing research – that’s been almost two weeks. Teaching tasks have taken some time away from me this semester. My last presentation didn’t go well in Thomas Wong’s postgraduate seminar, and it took me a while to figure out what I have been doing.
I also include suggestions and thoughts from previous weeks in today’s log.
- Research is a social activity, so connect with your reader. That means, the merits of a research paper lie more in its ability to convince its readers. This will require the researcher to have clear writing style and follows the convention in research community. It is also the researcher’s responsibility to consider counter arguments to make her argument more convincing. Talking to more people about her research will also help, because then she will have a better sense of the questions people might ask, thus better deal with reviewer’s critiques. You will need to constant make good argument to build your ethos, and people will gradually have trust in you.
- I learned this lesson after an incompetent presentation of my thesis in postgraduate seminar. People were unhappy of my proposed use of “auto-ethnography” and the two comparable cases I gave them. In fact I was aware of the methodological issues, possibly even better than some of them. My data was much richer than I presented to them. But I failed to show them I know this. Thus I felt they were not taking my argument seriously, because I didn’t take the presentation seriously myself. Research is not only about reporting what you have found, but also about making people accept your report. In fact, the latter is perhaps more important at my current stage of career. In the past few months I’ve been too happy with my imagination, but my imagination is nothing because people won’t take it seriously. This is why Dr. Tian said the way some researcher in mainland China does their research will impede their later career. “You should write those things only after you are established.” Dr. Wang Liping had a similar point when I said I wanted to work on theory as The Social Construction of Reality.
- Write as you go along, everyday. For the following reasons – (These tips are from The Craft of Research)
- Write to sort your data, your reading so you won’t feel everything is in a hopeless muddle.
- Write to encourage your best critical thinking. Writing is thinking by itself.
- Write so your life will be easier when you are drafting later.
- Write to understand your source better.
- Sort your data along your argument. This is connected to my problem in writing literature reviews. I tended to spend too much time reading every single word in a reading. But this is unnecessary, as I only need to take the key argument in a paper and sort it along my argument. This is where Dr. Tian will suggest “project-based reading”.
- Do not critique a source until you can summarise it. Self-evident.
- Significant problems are those that changed our way of looking at things. Great researchers are those who can propose great problems.