making of a research scholar
The research domain
is one that attracts a significant number of students. In this new
series, we will try to provide aspiring researchers with a detailed
view of what research is all about.
Education has several
noble goals many of which are sublime. They aim at making great
human beings with altruistic motives in whatever they do. Culture,
compassion, and ethics have roots in education in its widest sense.
However, for the great majority of people, higher education is
a means for securing a respectable job that would ensure them
a successful life, success in the sense in which it is commonly
understood. They would hope to find a job or profession that gives
them sufficient money for a good living. A sense of job satisfaction,
and ample time for rest, leisure, entertainment, and enjoyment,
with a reasonable quantum of work and responsibility would please
there is another segment in the population that would find
satisfaction only in the pursuit of knowledge by breaking
new ground to arrive at enchanting discoveries in virgin
areas. The development of the fields of science and technology,
new vistas in social life and the progress of humanity in
general depend on the fruits of the tireless striving of
such individuals who work with a sense of dedication. It
is their spirit of inquiry that spurs fresh dreams and takes
mankind to new worlds. These are the people who take up
It has to be appreciated that any subject would grow, only
through sustained research activity. Status quo cannot prevail
in any field in our world of intense competition. There
are struggles for survival at all levels.
tremendous strides in the fields of science and technology
were made with stunning rapidity during the past two centuries.
All the significant scientific inventions were made during
this short period. According to one estimate, if the life
of the earth is reduced to a scale of 24 hours, all these
inventions took place in the final 1/450 of a second.
at an example. How many of us would remember that Abraham
Lincoln never used a telephone, typewriter, fountain pen,
or motorcar? These were discovered only after three, three,
19, and 22 years respectively after his death in 1865.
word `research' may mean different things to different people.
It has been defined in many ways. But we should have a clear
picture as to what research is in our discussion. It is
a scholarly or scientific investigation or inquiry. It contributes
to expansion of knowledge through discovery of facts, theories,
or laws. It may involve hunting for facts or experimentation.
A thinker says, "It spans inquiry from isolating a
specific gene to investigating the workings of a camel's
third eyelid, from identifying themes of masculinity in
dance choreography to determining if older computer users
are put off by fancy graphics."
is perhaps a misconception that research is confined to
science and technology. There are vast areas of research
in disciplines such as history, languages, literature, and
sociology. Whatever might be the discipline, research has
to be an active, diligent and systematic process of inquiry
in order to discover, interpret or revise facts, events,
behaviour, or theories. Applying the findings of research
for the refinement of knowledge in other disciplines, or
in enhancing the quality of human life also falls in the
realm of research and development.
We are discussing research in its noble sense. But it is
sometimes reduced to a mundane activity, when the sole intention
of the researcher is to acquire a doctoral degree just to
satisfy the administrative requirements to secure a promotion
in teaching or some other academic field.
The candidate in such cases may not be motivated by a real
spirit of inquiry, but by an eagerness to fulfil certain
organisational stipulations. He may not enjoy the thrill
at the moment of discovery of a new theory or concept through
higher intellectual pursuit. There are, unfortunately, ignoble
enterprises that dish out readymade Ph.Ds like parcels from
a fast food restaurant, where the recipients never enjoy
the emotional peaks of a true researcher. Let us ignore
that variety of research, and focus on the exciting world
of genuine research.
know that any researcher should be motivated by a noble
goal. Work gets the first, second, and third priority.
The attributes of a good research scholar may be summarised
from the obsessions of clock and calendar
to withstand temporary setbacks