Having read Aliya’s post, where she mentioned about the ambiguity of the notion of leadership and her relatives’ misunderstandings about her major and future profession, I remembered the wonders on the faces of my own relatives and friends when I first declared them proudly that I was going to do a research in the field of education. The first reply I heard from them was: “Research? In education? Are you kidding?” And believe me, I am not exaggerating. Unfortunately, all we know that it will also be the first reply from the people who are doing research in the field of hard sciences, as they are determined that we are not doing “research” in its full understanding.
As I was thinking about my first post, I encountered with the difficulty of choosing a topic because there were too many interesting things I wanted to write about. In addition, I needed to choose a relevant topic so that it will somehow be helpful…and not bore you to the death. All these thoughts led me to the topic of my first post here which is: “The researcher: a hero of our time”. Indeed, the “path” which lies on the way of our today’s’ researchers is full of obstacles, disappointments and even risks. So, in this blog I would like to enlist several proofs showing the difficulties of being a researcher.
To be or not to be a researcher – that is the question…
At first, I would like you to watch a short video named “Things you don’t want to know in your early research career” (URL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vZnzRZAJBwU) . It will take just a few minutes, but will provide you with a dramatic statistics showing the number of people who persevere to become researchers and those who abandon this idea after several years. The reason why many academics quit the field of research is also shown in this video. The reasons are different starting from the heavy workload as every year more and more studies are published and it is hard to “digest” all of them. After the completion of the study, it will take a lot of time to review it and edit. However, the most daunting and disappointing word for every researcher is a “REJECTION”, not only in publishing the study, but also in getting funding for your potential work.
The impact factor – what it is and why it matters…
“Do you really want to get your PhD? So, please publish your work in a journal with a high impact factor!” – This is probably one of the most important requirements posed by many universities. To clarify, as it is indicated in the Wikipedia, the Impact factor (IF or JIF) is “a measure reflecting the average number of citations to recent articles published in that journal”. Although it was not a necessity in Kazakhstani universities before, the government established the rules stating that all Kazakhstani PhD students have to publish their studies in well-known journals. Actually, for students who are doing their research in the field of hard sciences it might not be a long and grueling “journey” as their researches are always in demand. However, if your area of expertise is in social sciences, you will probably feel like Alice in Wonderland who is falling into the rabbit hole and chasing this rabbit in despair. Luckily, even such academic fairytales might have happy ends if you are persistent and committed to succeed. What I found useful from different articles about tips for researchers to publish their works, is that it is important to find some good journals with high impact factor and scrutinize every detail of the requirements posed by them. As your study is almost finished, the next step is to write a strong letter to the journal you chose and attach the abstract. It goes without saying that your abstract should reflect the whole idea of your research and convince people that your study is worth considering. Otherwise, no one will bother. And finally, you should maintain a positive attitude to you work and be confident. Indeed, it is not even you who need this publication, but most of the journals will be happy to learn more about Kazakhstan.
The severe and dangerous world of research…
There is no wonder that the process of writing a research can bring you a lot of stress and cause some health problems if you are not careful. However, it is hard to believe but while you are doing your research, you can put your life at risk or be sent to a prison. To illustrate this, I would use the story I heard from Professor Lee and Aisara about an unbelievable female researcher Jackie Kirk, who was killed in Afganistan in 2008. To be exact, Professor Kirk and the representatives of the International Rescue Committee (IRC), a US aid agency, were attacked by the Taleban as they were thought to be enemies. Tragically, Professor Kirk was just trying to help people as the goal of her arrival to Afganistan was to do a research on the rights of females to have access to education in developing countries.
Another case I would like to mention, happened last year inTajikistan with the PhD candidate at the University of Toronto, Alexander Sodiqov, who was doing his research on the conflict resolution in Central Asia and arrested during his fieldwork. According to the news in The Guardian, “Tajikistan’s American-backed secret police service, the GKNB, initially confirmed it had detained Sodiqov and accused him of carrying out “subversion and espionage”. The service has since refused to discuss his whereabouts.” It had been a long and stressful period of investigation for Sodiqov, his family and friends until the researcher was finally released and allowed to leave Tajikistan. Again, this outrageous situation show us how hard and risky can a life of the researcher be. (If you are interested, you can learn more on this case from the resources given in the Reference list).
To sum up, the world of research is like a jungle where you have to constantly move and “fight” to defend your research. By this post, I was not trying to discourage you from being a researcher in the future. On the contrary, the goal of this article was to show and prove that researchers are not just academics who spend most of their time reading and writing, but they are the heroes who are often underestimated in our society.
P/S: It is doubtful that everyone of us will eventually become researchers, but I hope that this post was useful and interesting for you anyway. If you have any comments or questions, please feel free to share.
ELSECR’s channel. Things you don’t want to know in your early research career. (2011, September 27). Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vZnzRZAJBwU
Impact factor. In Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation Inc. Encyclopedia on-line. Available from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Impact_factor
Rickleton, Ch. (2014, June 19). Fears grow for Canadian researcher arrested in Tajikistan. The Guardian. Retrieved from: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jun/19/fears-grow-for-canadian-researcher-arrested-in-tajikistan
Rickleton, Ch. (2014, September 1). Tajikistan: Academic’s Future Still Unclear as Government Prolongs Investigation. Eurasianet. Retrieved from: http://www.eurasianet.org/node/69781
Social Science Journals: Resources for Authors. Available from the site of University of Michigan: http://www.psc.isr.umich.edu/dis/infoserv/journal/list.html
Stothart, Ch. (2008, August 28). Obituary: Jacqueline Kirk, 1968-2008. Times Higher Education. Retrieved from: http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/news/people/obituaries/jacqueline-kirk-1968-2008/403287.article
Trilling, D. (2014, September 12 )Tajikistan Lets Scholar Accused of Espionage Leave Country. Eurasianet. Retrieved from: http://www.eurasianet.org/node/69956