If you have had the pleasure of reading a great contribution to academics, be it any field – you could marvel at how systematically and sequentially authors write their work. Well, if you are after impressing the world – you better know how to trick-o-treat with words! I have been very fortunate to be part of a system and academic curriculum where meaningful and real-world impacting research took place. I have a very few academic publications to my name. I could easily count them on fingers, 3 if I remember correctly. But being a part of the academic community leaves an impression which cannot be replaced by any thing else. It’s the same thrill one feels when jumping off the cliff (for a bungee, ofcourse). I have wondered why, WHY do I keep getting these thrills to do some academic research again. I know, what I currently do is what I like but I keep getting attracted to the other side of the park – which theoretically (pun intended!) is GREEN.
The issue that I want to raise today, is how research happens in an environment where students doing their Bachelor’s or Master’s interact with their senior colleagues. To start off let’s look at how a Bachelor thinks of research. In his opinion, research is a way to glorify his path to success. A way to vent his thirst on something he finds meaty. The charm of doing what very few do. All this is good, simply because of the hundred’s of dead-end ways of spending his time — here he is destined to learn something useful. But he is no different from a “toad in a well”. His view of the BIG PICTURE is restricted. What matters to him is his short-sight towards quick-glory. Compare this to a Doctoral Student who would spend few years just learning about the domain he is about to rip apart — a bachelor student gets a few hours over the week assigned to him by his professor! Ofcourse, I am speaking this in context of IIT’s research fraternity.
The professor’s view of a bachelor’s student is very interesting. I am trying to anonymously quote one of the discussions I had regarding this with a very friendly department professor. He started off by expressing the obvious that Bachelor students at IIT are perhaps the best thing that might happen to this group of institutes. But the real research is not happening here. The reason being — lack of long term dedicated students. An good BTech might dedicate some 6 months to an year but then he’ll move on. What happens of the work he left behind, what about the continuity loss to the prof-in-charge? This is a motivating argument to considering the amount of effort put on part of our already-so-burdened professors. Well, I feel for them. They have had a lot to deal with — poor facilities, lack of good funding projects and the most essential – lack of competitive brilliance in their teams!
But how does a student feels when he gets a paper, some 12 pages of cribbing only a very few idiots in this world could understand, gets accepted! It’s enthralling. You feel as if you have been accepted as being one of the enlightened. I felt very delighted, on top of the world, cloud 9 or any-damn-cliche! I always wonder why that was, and one of the instantaneous reasons would be the audience. They consist of some really brilliant people known for their devotion towards excellence — and there you go, excellence is what makes it complete.
If you are one of those students, in your sophomore or around years of college, don’t think twice to accept such opportunities. Research is not about becoming the PhD nor does it involve kung-foo. It’s an adventure, sometimes tough(characterized by frustration) and sometimes enlightening(characterized by discovery). But it’s something that you would want to experience.
Best of luck!