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The 10 important lessons novice researchers must learn before initiating their research work

The 10 important lessons novice researchers must learn before initiating their research work

Postgraduate students, research scholars, fellows and colleagues usually seek help for a ready made topic for their research work. Believing that some of them were doing it out of their passion, others were pursuing it as a matter of degree requirement, I, beg pardon to suggest them any hackneyed research topic.

What I do is, simply, help them identify a broad range of areas and persuade them to do extensive reading, discussing, deliberating and then selecting an area of their interest among a variety of options available to them as a result of their modest but productive overture. At that very moment, I feel, this may be little acidulous and stressful but in the longer run, it pays off.

Read More: What should be included in the Research Proposal?

Based on my personal experience, feedback from the members of the various “Research Groups” and input of the subject experts, in this blog post, I made some very useful suggestions for the novice researchers. The students shall find these propositions very useful while embarking upon the journey of their search and research:

  1. Decide why you are pursuing research in the first place: This is an important area to be taken care of initially as it sets the stage and defines the direction of your research endeavour. If you are doing it out of your share passion, nothing is going to stop you. Your irresistible motivation will always guide you to your ultimate destination. This is true for any field of endeavours and the realm of research is no exception.
  2. Identify a key area of interest: There is a whole host of issues and myriad of topics which can be taken up for the research in any setting. Nevertheless, the area that entices you is recommended to be taken up as a start. Beware. Do not select a topic or chose a research area on the mere advice of someone else, unless and until you have undertaken an extensive review of the relevant literature and thoughtfully discussed with your colleagues and peers. It is advisable to select an area that is not much explored and fascinates you the most. Whatever humble contribution you would make, will be considered as a big milestone.
  3. Do extensive reading: Start with extensive reading about the area, you have chosen. Openly discuss it with your colleagues, peers and fellow researchers. In the beginning, keep an eye on the relevant conference themes and call for papers by the journals. There you may find multiple themes. Identify your area of interest. Read research articles, discussion papers, newspaper articles, blogs and thesis whatever come your way.
  4. Think in terms of research always: Activate, stimulate and train your brain to start thinking in terms of research, most of the time. Once you develop this inclination, you would always love to talk about research, research and research. This will assist in discovering new ideas and help you in finding the areas of your personal interest. Once you identify the broader area you will have no problem in selecting a topic by refining your ideas. It is critical. It is almost half of the work done.
  5. Time management is the key: Most of the students start research with a feeling of excitement and out of share enthusiasm but leave it halfway, incomplete. One of the important reasons for the undue interruption or premature discontinuation is poor time management. Research is, essentially, not cumbersome, it is, inevitably, time-consuming. Those who can dedicatedly spare time for the research work, they can do anything and achieve anything.
  6. Try to write something, all the time: It is highly advisable that the students always keep themselves engaged in writing something in the shape of blogs, conference papers or discussion papers, all the time. These alternatives are not having many inherent intricacies and will give you an opportunity to develop your writing as well as reading skills and mould your study habits.
  7. Draw outlines: While writing any type of research assignment, it is suggested to draw outlines, first. This is a rough sketch of the areas you are going to cover in the write-up. Then further expand those points accordingly. Add more topics, if required. Eliminate those which are not required or cannot be covered. This is how many accomplished researchers and writers develop their write-ups. This helps a lot in transforming ideas from the mind on to the piece of a paper. Once you start writing, it is advisable to write in bits and pieces.
  8. Do not get away with your write-up: Novice researchers or writers should not finish their write-ups in one go, unless and until direly required. Once, you jot down something about a particular section, read it, again and again. Make necessary corrections, change the structure where required, add new ideas and delete the things that are redundant. This is a continuous process of refining the writeup unless and until you finalize it. Remember to note down important concepts and key ideas that pop up in your mind instantly, otherwise, it is highly likely you forget those and it happens with me most of the times.
  9. Develop the habit of sharing: Whatever, write-up you have developed, do share it with coworkers, colleagues, peers, friends and juniors for input, correction, suggestions, recommendations and feedback.
  10.  Incorporate suggestions: Always value the comments and suggestions from others. Incorporate their input where fits in, accordingly. It will save you from embarrassment at a later stage and allows engagement of your colleagues in whatever positive you are doing. This shall help inspire others.

Read More: Challenges in selecting an interesting research topic

Hence, reading, writing and thinking are the three important faculties, the novice researchers need to develop while starting any research work. How much effectively one is using these faculties shall decide how much a good researcher or a writer he/she shall be.

About Dr Syed Hafeez Ahmad

Having a doctoral degree in human resource management, Dr. Syed Hafeez Ahmad is currently working as Additional Controller of Examinations, Khyber Medical University, Peshawar. He previously served the same university as Additional Registrar. These are mid-career level positions in the university's administration. Besides, he is working in the capacity of a team leader and founder of the Career Development & Research Centre, a startup launched in the Business Incubation Center of Khyber Medical University. He is having more than 18 years of professional experience in academic management with special interest in public sector higher education reforms, sustainability, academic leadership and universities' governance. He is a research blogger, Amazon associate and a YouTuber.

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