Sunday, September 12, 2004

Defending your mission ..... Part 7

Preparing for a solid line of defense

Your Research Proposal Defense Session at the end of the first semester will be the determinant factor to your Master's Degree Research initiative at the University. Whatever method you use for your specific study will be dictated by the title that you choose. .... which could be either historical, qualitative, quantitative, experiment, or practice-based research and so on. Maybe, your specific research might require the deployment of a multi-research method approach. This will be best approved and advised by the Research Committee during your Research Proposal Presentation or by your supervisors later on. Although the Proposal session itself might sound very intimidating and harsh, the sole intention of the Research Proposal Presentation is to ensure that all candidates has a purposeful plan-of-action to work with for the next three semesters of their study and not to still stay aimlessly and lost. We do not want you to waste your time and money, nor your supervisor's time. Honestly, all you seniors colleague will agree with me when I say that the 18 months is really too short for comfort.

What the Committee will also be looking for will be to ensure that your research proposal also relates to the specialization discipline that you register with University’s Graduate Institute. If you register for the Design Technology Cluster (AD774), your research should end up with a product, not with a document on Design History (an AD771 – Art History & Cultural Management cluster) or a research proposal on Design Education (already the domain of the University’s Education Faculty). A Fashion designer enrolled with AD744 programme should not end up researching on developing an Interactive CD project (and AD773 – Vis. Comm. & New Media domain). This must be very clear to all students.

A solid methodology design is the key to the success of any research. The first line of attack by your examiner during any Viva Voce defense session later on at the final year of your study will be on how foolproof is the methodology adopted in your research. If the methodology design itself is already shaky and full of loopholes with potentials of data being manipulated or evidence of potential biasness, then for all intent and purpose, you can forget and kiss the Finding and Recommendation chapter of your thesis goodbye. The whole of your research effort will just be rejected and gone to waste. I’m sure you wouldn’t want your bad thesis to be a laughing stock, when being referred to on the shelf of the University Library by the future generation. Neither will your supervisor want to put his academic integrity and credibility on line, no way…

You are required to define clearly what method you will be using to gather your data collection and eventually know how it will be analyzed in order to support or disapprove your earlier research hypothesis. Determining who the target audience and how many will be sufficient for your study sampling is extremely critical because that will dictate the reliability of your findings. Knowing your research target audience at the onset of the research also helps establishes beforehand with whom you will validate your finding at the end of your study.

If you chose instead to adopt your own personal research method for your thesis, then you are opening yourself to grave danger of inviting challenges from the readers/ examiner into questioning your authority in coming up with such new method, especially when you are still a first time novice researcher. To be safe, it is highly recommended that you quote or cite from a solid grounded-theory or established methodology that is appropriate to your title, methodology already written by established authors or used in many other successful thesis.

In short, there is no short cut to doing your research proposal paper but to READ, READ and READ. Research is a systematic and controlled activity that conforms to an established set of rule and guidelines as practiced globally for many years by academicians and researchers. Gone were the days of waiting for INSPIRATION or "ILHAM" to appear before you can proceed with your research, or waiting with the hope that DISCOVERY BY CHANCE will occur through scribbling and doodling. Wipe that away from your thoughts for now, because those were the domains and territory of artists/designers, not of the researcher's. In research you can only guess about the answer, but the method of finding the answer in itself cannot be subjected to guesswork as well. It must be determined clearly, right from the onset of the study.

To understand more about research methodology, visit the library and read some of the thesis done by past graduates or surf the web for examples of research journals.

Wishing you success in your Research Proposal Defense. Good Luck


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