I would like to share this stories, or experience (some are mine and some are from friends who have gone through similar path) and thoughts with you and with future PhD’s.
When you started doing your research, you will get used to hear advice from your supervisors, PhD’s candidates, postgraduate discussion forum, and etc. that you need to discuss and talk about your research topic with others. The question you need to answer when people asked you after knowing that you have dedicated full time to do research, is ‘So, what is your research about?’ Then you go… ‘Hmmm… How do I start?’ Now indeed, this kind of conversation, the more the better according to many researcher, will be able to help you and your research. What will it help? It will help you 1) understand your own research, 2) to learn to articulate your research ground/areas, and 3) to gained new ideas and approached from others.
Well, that is the advice I received when I started my PhD and indeed, I cannot agree more that it does achieved the three goals, plus it help the new researcher (you) to find your own voice, and gained confident in discussion about their research. What they did not tell you, is that you need to be able to construct your conversation, and managed the discussion. You need to be aware that this research is not a short time research, instead it is a long years process, some takes 2 at least for Master’s, 3 and half for PhD’s and the years can go on till 20 years. How do you construct your conversation and managed them till that long? How do you keep your research stories ‘fresh’ and exciting so when you talk to the same people again after 3 years, it will not bore them?
When I started my PhD, I talk and discuss about the topic and areas that interest me with my husband, and we can talk and talk about this for hours, and almost every weeks. That was the first year I started my research. It was full of excitement, discoveries, exploration and most of all it has gained lots of my confident in talking about it to other people besides my husband. And for him, is the same, he is so interested to know more, we argue, debates, disagree, research and get to some sort of resolution. The research grows with us…
That means, we grow to be part of the whole research process… that happen most of the time and we do brings our family along with it. Anything and almost everything we see, experience and do, somehow we managed to associate or to trigger link to our research topic. For some, it might not go that far or they are smart enough to find line to put stop at it. They did not allow research take over their life and decided to take over the research life. So they discontinue their research. Me, I continue till the end. But there are prices to be paid. Research has taken over me.
It was not that bad, not how it sound like here in this story of mine. Life was good, I feel good, confidence sometimes can be over exited and over confidence, which is normal in this process. Oh yes, another ‘normal’ process would be experiencing a ‘roller-coaster’ life and mood. This process is as much as annoying and upsetting, it can also cause lots of stress. Life is like as a new researcher is like roller coaster. Lost is the words that many would be saying such as ‘Oh! I am lost with this research’. But what you don’t know you also have somehow lost with your own self. You have misplaced yourself. Deep in your thoughts, you deeply belief that this is not hard, come on! You can do this, you have been through harder times than this study, this should not be taking so much impact on your life. Yes, that is what you keep on telling yourself about again and again… that you are not misplace yourself but you have decided to take this challenge. Just for a thought, imagine that this process in your mind right now. Imagine that this process continue for a long long long long years… to be continue.