So, you are a research student?

March 25, 2014 § Leave a comment

When I almost finished my study for undergraduate, suddenly everyone talking about what-you-gonna-do-after-graduate thing. As for simple-minded-short-sighted boy like me I chose not to enter job market just yet.

I have many reasons though for my decision. One of the strongest reason in my thought at that time was the fact that my knowledge was very shallow. I also doesn’t have much knowledge about what the current trend going in job market particularly in Malaysia, which one promising a good start, what type of industry suit me well and so on. So, I decided to further into postgraduate study, have a look first, build a set of network, get a master degree and then go to work. At least that’s my plan.

And the story begins.

Then there is this dilemma, should you study by taught course or should you venture into research for your master degree. To have an answer for this question, I traveled across the country, meeting a lot of peoples, collecting comments and suggestions. The result was almost a clear cut, go for taught course, research is a big no.

The why for this was simple, if you want a master degree nobody will ask you whether your degree is done by research or coursework. Furthermore, coursework is structured, you just have to follow the flow and you will graduate on time (in case you passed all the exams). For the case in Malaysia, taught course consume shorter time to finish, it takes only 3 semesters. You can of course finish your master research within the same time frame, but most people done it within 4 semesters, and often people extend their research until 6th semester. So, time wise taught course is more attractive.

But against all odds a stubborn me chose to do my master degree by research.

The research difficulty vary from one to another. Not all master by research is difficult, and the same not all are easy. Basically there are 3 components that affecting this kind of study. Your research, your supervisor and you yourself. If you are knowledgeable about the research you’re doing (you know what to do and where to go), you have a loving helpful supervisor to guide you along the way and you yourself is self-motivated, can work independently, resourceful and not lazy, then your path will be smooth and sweet like a love story with happy ending. But of course, obviously life is not a fairytale.

For my case, during my first semester I almost have no idea how to conduct my first research (obviously). I read the journal with no guidance or strategy. I change my research title several times, I rarely discuss anything with my supervisor or my colleague , I woke up in the morning staring at the window with that meaningless feelings. I saw the word ‘quit’ all the time anywhere I go. The only choice for me back then are quit or try harder.

At the end of 1st semester I decided, I’m leaving. I talked to my mother, I discussed with friends, I started to apply for jobs, created a jobstreet account, distribute cvs and attending interviews.

But that decision don’t last long, I decided to wait until my first mini viva (first evaluation). I thought that it is too early to quit. I want to fight back.

As I go further, I noticed that you need to discuss more with peoples, reading is always helpful and so do discussion. I learn that when you stuck you should find other alternatives rather than keep trying the same thing over again.

And above all, I realize that I don’t have to compare myself to others. Say I finished my research in 3 years, where other complete it in 1 and a half year, did I lose? What about the knowledge and experience I gained during that 3 years? It doesn’t count?

For the time being, yes it doesn’t matter how long it takes and I’m determined to finish what I’ve started. But things may change in the future, especially when you have start your own family. When all you have to think is not only what to wear and where to eat, there is an additional variable and it is not a simple equation anymore. But lets take one step at a time.


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