Friday, March 29, 2013

Research Methodology Course: The Overlooked Aspect

Assalamualaikum and greetings fellow readers

I've just finish attending the Research Methodology Course (RMC) organized in my university, IIUM. This was a five day course that had totally gobbled up my mid semester break. Sobs! Since I am an Academic Trainee of IIUM, it's compulsory for me to attend this course before pursuing PhD.

Like what normal people would feel, I started attending the course with much dread and laziness; thinking many other fun stuff that I could do at home. As I sat in the Conference Room and Seminar Room in CAC, the Cultural Activity Centre, I patiently listened and jotted down notes that the instructors presented. By refreshment time, I ate a lot (the food was delicious) and I get to meet new friends, lecturers and fellow academic trainees who are in the same boat as me. These had improved my mood considerably. However, when the course ended for that day, I went back to my dull and lonely mahallah (residential college); causing the negative mood to set back in.

Regardless, the purpose of this post is not to convey to you the mood swings that I have during this course (notice the format of this sentence; it represents a problem statement in a thesis). Instead, I want to share with you what I have learned during the course; the matters at which you could hardly find in any published academic journals or books. These matters were presented during a slot that had captured most of my focus; the Thesis Writing slot.

Probably you are now assuming that I'm going to discuss the mundane but important aspects of thesis writing. Well, you are wrong. I'm actually going to tell you the harsh reality behind thesis writing.

First off, Dr Rahmah had talked about the meaning of thesis. It means, "True Happiness Ends Since It Started", T.H.E.S.I.S. Got it? You may laugh but, it is quite true. According to her, writing a PhD thesis is a long and arduous journey. It can take a toll on your marriage. During her time doing PhD, many of her friends had gotten a divorce. This is because spouse who is stress writing a thesis, would let out his/her frustration to his/her partner. Even more so in the case where the wife is completing her PhD and the husband couldn't obtain a job there (in the case of studying overseas). Worse is when there is financial problems. All of this would ultimately lead to a divorce. Thus, Dr Rahmah had advised us to sit down and really talk to our spouses with regards to our study and the bad times (this is an uncountable noun) that is highly likely to be faced.

Thesis writing can also take its toll on oneself. The term used to describe PhD as "permanent head damage" is not simply a joke. Dr Rahmah said that you really need to take a break, probably a day, and rest. Spend some time on your own doing things that you really like where you must not look at your thesis at all. This can stop you from going mental.

Last but not least, the harsh reality that we, the participants of this course, need to realize is that, thesis writing is not getting easier. It will get worse. Dr Rahmah told us to not kid ourselves that things are going to get better.

To listen to all of these was overwhelming for me. You would too if you were there.  

So in the end, it was worthwhile to not go back for holidays. It was worthwhile to attend this course, instead. I had learned a lot and new bonds have also been made. Alhamdulillah..

I end this post with a quote by Dr Abdul Rashid Moten, one of the instructor of this course:

ALLAH has given us only a little (showing a minuscule gap between his index finger and thumb) of HIS knowledge and we can claim ourselves as scholars.