Tuesday, January 7, 2014

10 Things That Happen During an Academic Project

As you might know by now, I was working on a study paper as a part of my PGD in Journalism. I finished it this morning, four days ahead of the last date of submission (thankfully). This Study Paper intends to assess my ability to identify specific problems and suggest suitable solutions. It will reveal my analytical ability and interpretative mind; if that.

It’s very important that when you have such a project/paper submission, you choose a topic close to your heart. Not only does your passion add individual flavour to the paper, it becomes the sole motivating factor for you to wake up, get dressed and go out for data collection. You really need that--believe me, you will be working day in and day out (to the point of exhaustion) that one day you might just wanna kill yourselves because you didn’t get to rest. So, have fun with it!


Some obvious things that stand out in the serious activity-

1.       Procrastination—hmm...

2.       Chaos & Mess

There’s papers, books, notes, pencils, pens and other stationery strewn all about your room: the table, chairs, bed. Sometimes you might have to sleep elsewhere. And oh, don’t forget the binging, which brings crumbs, crackers and half the mugs from the kitchen in to your room.


3.       Traveling & Meeting People
Thanking all the people who participated in the Study

On a serious note, it does give you an opportunity to improve your interpersonal skills for gaining practical knowledge about real life situations—see you have no option but to go out there, meet people, ask questions, say ‘excuse me’ & ‘please’ over and over—it’s actually quite fun; approaching people that way. People of Hyderabad are always willing to talk.


4.       Balance ki Vaat

There’s scores of meetings and interviews you have to schedule—you need to make multiple phone calls and text messages to one person just to get in touch. Then someone would want a telephonic interview, so that’s about an hour of your talktime. You get the gist.


5.       Deadlines are a Joke

You make a timetable on Day 1. Let’s say you put two weeks each for research, data collection and typing the material. Your research extends up to three weeks, where you spend the first two watching random YouTube videos and collecting articles and the third in actually conducting an analytical research. Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for deadlines. Deadlines are the cure for creative blocks!


6.       Data Analysis is a Pain

Unless the size of your study is in thousands, you go old school for data collection (especially when your geographical profile is concentrated only in Hyderabad). I should’ve hired someone for entering the data. MY GOD! How do people with data entry jobs do that? The hardest part of Data Analysis is feeding that data into your computer. Graphs, charts, etc. are all auto-generated with a few clicks.


7.       Admiring Your Work


Once you type a significant portion of the paper, stick those graphs, charts, pictures etc. you tend to sit back and scroll, zoom out for a bird’s eye view, and reread portions you wrote — admire your aesthetic and creative output. This does nothing. It further delays completing your paper.


8.       Word Count is a Joke

How is this done anyway? Labels, captions, headers, index, tables, bibliography, appendix, etc. eat more than a 1000 words! So, am I left with just 2000-2500 words for the actual paper?


9.       Desktop Aesthetics



Enough said!

10.   Cosmetic Therapy

Sleeplessness, exhaustion, too much coffee intake leave you tired--sore muscles from sitting too long, perhaps a flat ass, sweaty and painful fingers from all the typing, and by the way you may not remember when you last washed your face. So, a good massage, manicure, pedicure etc. is in order! Indulge yourselves. You had fun with writing the paper, now have fun with this.

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Pic courtesy: here and here