Graduate student William Artz discusses how to utilize a research regimen in graduate school. Read more about his experiences below!
If one is going to graduate school, especially in the humanities, it is never too early to begin thinking about, and developing, a research regimen. What does that mean? What does that entail? It is really less intimidating than one might, at first blush, think. There are two key points that I would like to make, and ideas that I have followed for some time. Those are: never follow a recipe; and never be condescended to. These have served me well.
All scholars in post-secondary educational institutions have a particular emphasis in their given field of study. This sounds very pedantic, elitist, and just plain scary. It really is not, because if you are in graduate school, you are one of those very scholars. Use every opportunity available to you, to talk with faculty about their academic work, and you will soon realize, not only the true nature of knowledge acquisition, but also, just how addictive advanced research can be.
Though I am currently working on the Master of Art’s degree in English, given my interests, and my thesis research, I align with comparative literature and cultural studies, more than any other aspect in the field of study known as English. At the graduate level, one is able to start focusing in on specific interests, in a particular discipline. To be a bit more explanatory, in English studies there are any number of subfields, from literature, composition and rhetoric, to creative writing, film, and digital media.
Always remember to never allow yourself to be underestimated. If there is anything about which you do not understand, ask. Aside from the vacuous platitude about no dumb questions, there are no dumb questions. You should never feel at all intimidated by any institution of learning. Should not be at all scary or off-putting. If it is, determine why, and then talk with faculty; trust me, they love to talk, especially about their academic work. As you advance in your own academic career and life, it will become second-nature to use every waking moment thinking about ideas for either research articles, or professional academic conferences. At the post-doctoral level, that shifts a bit, in that one adds in the need to write monographs, i.e. scholarly books. All of this is just part of the process, and no matter what your level, there are always any number of support systems available to you. Yet again, none of this information is beyond one’s level of aptitude.
This type of scholarly endeavor should, in essence, lead to either the thesis, or dissertation; guidance and advice from faculty, however, is not only a necessity, but a must. It sounds like I am repeating myself, but is worth repeating: Aside from one’s graduate adviser, any faculty member is interested in talking about their own research interests, as well as, finding ways of optimal navigation through the maze of academic scholarship. It is a process with which to become familiar, and to use to your advantage.
The other aspect of academic scholarship, is presenting that work to others, on campus through colloquia, workshops, roundtables, and Chautauqua-like discussions, as merely examples. It is never too early to start presenting one’s research endeavors, as responses, both good and bad, are all constructive, present as often as reasonable, until you complete the program. If you have an interest in doctoral work, believe me, you will quickly come to realize the value in this endeavor.