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Adelaide9216

Got my research project "destroyed" by committee

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Hello everyone,

I am feeling anxious and down tonight...and then I remembered that I have this forum as a resource to discuss what I went through today as I am certainely not the first one to have experience this during their graduate program. I am the only one in my program who is doing a formal thesis (others are doing a field option) so I cannot really discuss what I'm going through with my classmates. Anyway. Research is an iterative process and I've been doing research for a year so I know how emotionally difficult it can be at times...but I'll go through this. I just need to vent and have some advice.

I am finishing my first year of classes for my master's program. This summer, I wanted to start doing my ethics proposal, data collection as soon as I get ethics approval and research and write my thesis. I also got funded for this research and will have to present at a international conference in August. I also wanted to apply to Ph.D programs for Fall 2019 (on another topic than the one I am studying right now). Well that was the plan..until today. I have to postpone a lot of things and it won't go as quickly as I want. Before today, I felt like I knew exactly where I was going and felt in control...and I have hit a wall. However, I must say that I am glad that it happened earlier in the process rather than later down the road which would've been more difficult to manage.

Basically, today, I had the first meeting with my advisory commitee for my research project for my master's thesis. I have an advisory commitee because I initially wanted to work with women from a marginalized population. I wanted to do that ethically and in a culturally sensitive way, so that's why my supervisor and I both decided to put in place that committee since we are both outsiders from the community I wanted to study. Out of the four people I have recruited for the committee, two of them are from the said community. One of them had to cancel last minute because she had a death in her family...so it ended up being only one representative from the said community in the committee (which I already felt uncomfortable with because I did not want her to feel like a token individual or having to speak for everyone but she mentionned feeling this way at the end of the meeting, inevitably).

Basically, the committee brought the very important following points: 

- I have taken courses on the realities of this community and I've been involved in one community but not long enough for me to create ties to address an issue as sensitive as sexual violence.

- The committee was also wondering why I was not studying the realities of black women, since I am one myself. One of them asked if it could be possible that I may have chosen a topic that's farther away from me so that I can protect myself psychologically through the process. I have thought about this comment and I am realizing that this member is absolutely right. As a black woman, studying my own community is too difficult for me at the current moment, especially since I am realizing a lot of stuff about 'race' and gender and the ways that these operate in my own life since very recently.

EDIT : They did not say 'you should do research on black women because you're a black woman' i think the English barrier makes me express this in the wrong way. They just wondered why I was studying something so far away from me since I am not from that community and that I am not a survivor of sexual violence. I explained it to them, but they wanted to have more in-depth reasons which is legitimate.

- They also had a lot of issues around the terminology I was using (for instance victims as opposed to survivors of sexual violence) but they acknowledged that English is not my mothertongue and that it might explain the issues with the terminology. However, I won't be writing my thesis in English, I will be writing it in my first language which kinda helps this aspect. 

I now know that I have to change my topic in some way or another, for it to be done well, properly and respectfully and also for it to be feasable within one academic year. But I still feel lost about where I should go and where I should begin. My supervisor was also part of the meeting this morning and she said that we would discuss it further after the Easter break, so I can give some time to absorb everything that was said to me today and look into some of the readings that were suggested to me. 

But to be honest, I kinda feel lost. I'm okay with the criticism because if something is going to be done in the wrong way, I'd rather not do it at all. I'm a perfectionnist and I want to be the best researcher as possible. I know I want to keep working on my thesis though, I just don't know where I should go about it. Plus, at the conference in August, I have no idea what I am going to present now which adds to the anxiety of presenting in front of researchers who are probably going to be as critical as the committee this morning. My supervisor said that I could talk about the process of my research project rather than coming up with a finalized product...but I still feel anxious because they have the summary of my project in their official program and everything and it's not going to be the same thing.

Anyway. I need advice, support and reassurance I guess. So many things are making me anxious. But I know rationally, it's not the end of the world.

 

Thank you for reading this long rant. 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by Adelaide9216

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It's definitely good to know these things at this stage where you can switch directions/approaches and make corrections much more easily than later on! You're right that this is a normal part of research. I think you are accepting the constructive criticism very well and you're doing the right thing to improve your research project!

When I read your post title, I was thinking your post would go very differently. I am glad to say that it didn't go the way I thought it would. I think every researcher will have an experience like you had in this committee many times during the career, and especially at least once during graduate school. Although it wasn't my committee, I would say that my version of this experience in graduate school was much more harsh! But like you, I was fortunate that my criticizers presented their arguments constructively and that their comments came from a good place (i.e. they want to help and make my research project better). During grad school, one of the things I learned about academics and feedback is that criticism isn't the worst type of feedback. The worst type of feedback is when they don't care at all so they just nod and let you do whatever without regard to your success.

Of course, there will be experiences where we receive criticism that don't come from a good place and that they might use them to hurt us or discourage us rather than help us. That's a different story though and I'm glad to see that it does not seem to be the case for you here :) 

Still, whether the criticism is well meaning or not, it does suck to hear that you didn't do something right. I know how that feels. I've learned ways to help me deal with rejection and criticism like this. I find that it helps to take some time to be disappointed that you didn't do as well as you've hoped and do something fun. I have a nice dinner, watch some escapist TV/netflix or something and take the rest of the day off (or the next day off if it's the end of the day). Then, I'm recharged and ready to start back it again!

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Having worked with my supervisor who we have nicknamed Mr. Spicycoating (OK not in English - this sounds weird in English, but it sorta translates as the opposite of sugarcoating) I know how it feels to get criticism (My first draft of my first proposal in not my first language I got comments like 'This sentence is so hard to digest it gives me reflux.' Thanks man). 

Second - realize there is no 'perfect' experiment - at least not when you're in the social sciences (I assume you are). There are always concessions to make on the sample (including size and who to include), methodology, etc. So I'd say try to let go of devising the perfect study - this has always helped me as I'm a perfectionist. Concessions, especially if you work with multiple people are also gonna happen. I constantly have to negotiate with my supervisor as he's the type to love flashy findings - and I'm the type that rather does solid research. So I'm often trying to convince him to let go of things that could potentially be flashy. You're now negotiating with your committee - that's cool. It will help you and your project.  One of the biggest things you'd have to learn as a scientist is flexibility, negotiation (this is not the same as a compromise though!) and persuasion. It's an excellent opportunity to learn :) Your feedback has been very constructive -  so you should feel happy about that! They didn't say it was a bad idea - just there are some things that need extra thinking!

That being said, there are a number of points they want you to address or provide a better rationale for. From what I read, they have some issues with your choice of 'who' you want to study. It seems like this is the biggest problem underlying all things from what you said. Why this group? Could you maybe study the same topic/subjects from a different angle (i.e., story or approach)? Are you very much attached to this specific group? It could also be an opportunity to study something that's maybe more closely related to your PhD goals/topic. This of course depends on your future goals.

Honestly, for me, I love criticism. It makes my topic better, it helps my thinking to mature, it makes me aware of thinks or hurdles I didn't think about yet, etc. It's a good thing. I always focus on what I gain from having had the experience (i.e., what did I learn). It always makes my work better in some way (even if it's just in the eyes of others). I try not to be emotionally attached to my work and am getting better at it (thanks to my supervisor lol - love him though). I always say I take my work very seriously, but not myself. I can let go of things of very fast. Plus criticism is part of academic life (*cough* reviewer 2 *cough*) so we all need to find strategies to deal with this.

Also having had this criticism and questions now and if you address them - you won't face the same questions at the conference. And even if, you'd know how to answer them! August is still far away, and sometimes things move slow, something things move fast. Don't be too hung up on timelines but just try to move as fast as you're able to - that's what I generally try to do. 

If you're worried or need to vent - find me in a PM. This is what I go through on a biweekly base it seems.

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The research process is messy, and it makes perfectionists lose their minds. 

It sounds like your project is very ambitious (which is a good thing), but it doesn't feel like it could be done within your timeframe the way you want it done. The main reason seems to be your topic: survivals of sexual violence are not always keen to share their story, let alone with someone they don't know that well. This brings on a bunch of issues you likely won't have time to fix in a year.

Regarding the inquiry about you not studying your own community, I always think that is an unfair assumption. I come from an underdeveloped country and everyone automatically assumes I'll research my country or my region, but I know I can't be objective and honestly thinking about my country atm just makes me sad. It's good that you're culturally sensitive about bringing members of the community you want to study into your committee, and it's natural that they get a bit defensive about it, but I don't think this is your biggest impediment at this point.

Is there a way to scale your project down?

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8 hours ago, Psygeek said:

Having worked with my supervisor who we have nicknamed Mr. Spicycoating (OK not in English - this sounds weird in English, but it sorta translates as the opposite of sugarcoating)

I just want to say this is an awesome nickname and I will start using this (in my head) now! :)

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Hello everyone,

Thank you for your kind words and for your wisdom.

I will respond more in detail later because I am in public transit right now, but just to give a bit of background: I have worked directly with female survivors of sexual violence both in paid jobs and as a volunteer. I also was a volunteer (for a short period of time, I admit) for an organization that works with that population. My research project was about interviewing workers who work with survivors from this population. Not the actual survivors. Also, I am also from a marginalized community and there are a lot of parrallels between what my community has experienced throughout history and the ongoing effects of that history... I also got grants for my project which gave me the confidence that it was perceived as feasible. Thats why I am a bit surprised that I am facing such resistance. 

I feel like I literally have no project now. I don't know how to go about it. If no one wants to work with me, probably because of a misunderstanding on my background/experience, I have no project. and I have zero idea what I am going to present at the conference. I literally dont know what to do now. 

Edited by Adelaide9216

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12 hours ago, Psygeek said:

Having worked with my supervisor who we have nicknamed Mr. Spicycoating (OK not in English - this sounds weird in English, but it sorta translates as the opposite of sugarcoating) I know how it feels to get criticism (My first draft of my first proposal in not my first language I got comments like 'This sentence is so hard to digest it gives me reflux.' Thanks man). 

Second - realize there is no 'perfect' experiment - at least not when you're in the social sciences (I assume you are). There are always concessions to make on the sample (including size and who to include), methodology, etc. So I'd say try to let go of devising the perfect study - this has always helped me as I'm a perfectionist. Concessions, especially if you work with multiple people are also gonna happen. I constantly have to negotiate with my supervisor as he's the type to love flashy findings - and I'm the type that rather does solid research. So I'm often trying to convince him to let go of things that could potentially be flashy. You're now negotiating with your committee - that's cool. It will help you and your project.  One of the biggest things you'd have to learn as a scientist is flexibility, negotiation (this is not the same as a compromise though!) and persuasion. It's an excellent opportunity to learn :) Your feedback has been very constructive -  so you should feel happy about that! They didn't say it was a bad idea - just there are some things that need extra thinking!

That being said, there are a number of points they want you to address or provide a better rationale for. From what I read, they have some issues with your choice of 'who' you want to study. It seems like this is the biggest problem underlying all things from what you said. Why this group? Could you maybe study the same topic/subjects from a different angle (i.e., story or approach)? Are you very much attached to this specific group? It could also be an opportunity to study something that's maybe more closely related to your PhD goals/topic. This of course depends on your future goals.

Honestly, for me, I love criticism. It makes my topic better, it helps my thinking to mature, it makes me aware of thinks or hurdles I didn't think about yet, etc. It's a good thing. I always focus on what I gain from having had the experience (i.e., what did I learn). It always makes my work better in some way (even if it's just in the eyes of others). I try not to be emotionally attached to my work and am getting better at it (thanks to my supervisor lol - love him though). I always say I take my work very seriously, but not myself. I can let go of things of very fast. Plus criticism is part of academic life (*cough* reviewer 2 *cough*) so we all need to find strategies to deal with this.

Also having had this criticism and questions now and if you address them - you won't face the same questions at the conference. And even if, you'd know how to answer them! August is still far away, and sometimes things move slow, something things move fast. Don't be too hung up on timelines but just try to move as fast as you're able to - that's what I generally try to do. 

If you're worried or need to vent - find me in a PM. This is what I go through on a biweekly base it seems.

Yes, I think it's good to receive criticism. In my life so far, (I am only 25), the times in which I have failed or received criticism have helped me a lot. It makes you grow as an individual and as a professionnal, and as a researcher. And I just want to get better at this. I'm a tough skin, I know I'll get through this, but I have to admit that I am destabilized because I literally don't know what I should do about my project now. It was a tough meeting now that I look back at it. I was good to just sit back and hear the criticism without responding immediately because I needed to process it. I know it had nothing to do with me personnality or my ability to do a project, I know the criticism was aimed at the actual project.

Edited by Adelaide9216

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7 hours ago, TheWalkingGrad said:

The research process is messy, and it makes perfectionists lose their minds. 

It sounds like your project is very ambitious (which is a good thing), but it doesn't feel like it could be done within your timeframe the way you want it done. The main reason seems to be your topic: survivals of sexual violence are not always keen to share their story, let alone with someone they don't know that well. This brings on a bunch of issues you likely won't have time to fix in a year.

Regarding the inquiry about you not studying your own community, I always think that is an unfair assumption. I come from an underdeveloped country and everyone automatically assumes I'll research my country or my region, but I know I can't be objective and honestly thinking about my country atm just makes me sad. It's good that you're culturally sensitive about bringing members of the community you want to study into your committee, and it's natural that they get a bit defensive about it, but I don't think this is your biggest impediment at this point.

Is there a way to scale your project down?

Yes. I got hired as a RA for my supervisor a year ago, and it was very destabilizing because the process of research is messy and I was not used to that at all. I think having that experience helps me for experiencing this again in my own research project. I am destabilized, but a lot less than I was a year ago.

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Hello,

so I may have another idea as a project, but still linked to this idea of sexual violence. I've taken a quick look to see if what I want to study has been done before and what are some of the gaps, and I saw one master's thesis in the departement of political science in my province. and a lot of stuff from the states from different social sciences and humanities departements in the States.

So, I've got two questions. (I'm gonna address those with my supervisor as well).

1) Does it matter if I am conducting my master's thesis on that topic even if it seems to have been somewhat studied before (but in another field, from another perspective)? 

2) If I decide to go down that path eventually, should I email the congress organizers about the change in my topic for the conference in August? 

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47 minutes ago, Adelaide9216 said:

So, I've got two questions. (I'm gonna address those with my supervisor as well).

1) Does it matter if I am conducting my master's thesis on that topic even if it seems to have been somewhat studied before (but in another field, from another perspective)? 

2) If I decide to go down that path eventually, should I email the congress organizers about the change in my topic for the conference in August? 

 

1) your different approach that you could maybe contrast with another approach, that's still legit. Even a new RQ would be OK. It's just how you sell it to some extent. I think the main thing about doing research is that it adds new knowledge - this can be exploring something that isn't known yet, or proving that some findings uphold (also important information). 

2) I'd first have it all settled with your committee and supervisor. Then update them.

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1 hour ago, Adelaide9216 said:

So, I've got two questions. (I'm gonna address those with my supervisor as well).

1) Does it matter if I am conducting my master's thesis on that topic even if it seems to have been somewhat studied before (but in another field, from another perspective)? 

2) If I decide to go down that path eventually, should I email the congress organizers about the change in my topic for the conference in August? 

Definitely your supervisor is the right resource and it's okay for them to help you design a project too, not just a sounding board / giving feedback to your ideas.

1) In my field, it's common for Masters research to not be original research. It's not a requirement for most departments in my field (at least in Canada). Many people I know do a Masters thesis that is either a proof of concept / reanalysis of an existing result to prove that they have implemented something correctly before going on to do original research in a PhD. In your case, even something that is studied before but from another perspective would count as original research though, so I think it should be fine for Masters work for sure and maybe even PhD work, as long as there's enough to do from the perspectives not covered by previous work.

2) Agree with Psygeek!

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So, I've been thinking on this since I first read your original post. I'm wondering why, if you're so invested in this topic and have gotten grant money for it, you aren't trying to think about ways to address the critiques of your committee to build a stronger, feasible project. If I were you, I would meet with the two representatives of the community (the one who was at the meeting and the one who wasn't) and talk to them about how you can do your project in such a way that it addresses their concerns and (ideally) meets some of their needs as well. That is, what do they think you would need to do to have closer ties with the community? Could you volunteer alongside the workers and incorporate that into your research design in some way, for example? 

Second, you need to speak to your committee rather directly about why they think the only appropriate community for you to study is one you are already a part of. I'm not sure about your field but there is tons of scholarship where people write about communities they aren't a part of. I mean, that's the foundation of anthropology to some degree. There has been a great deal of pushback against that more recently but, that also doesn't mean people have to exclusively study those of the same ethnicity as them. Or, to be more blunt, if that were the case, a whole lot of white academics would have to stop what they're doing immediately and start studying white people instead of all the other things they study. I highly recommend that you read up on this and prepare them a short memo explaining why you chose this community to study and why it is perfectly valid to study a community besides the black one. Be prepared, have references, etc. This goes for the question of why you'd study sexual violence when you haven't experienced it too.

Third, go back to what it is that you got you interested in this topic in the first place. What are the questions that you wanted to know? Is there another way to approach answering these such that you meet your own intellectual curiosity while also addressing the concerns of your committee? 

Good luck!

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1 hour ago, TakeruK said:

1) In my field, it's common for Masters research to not be original research. It's not a requirement for most departments in my field (at least in Canada). Many people I know do a Masters thesis that is either a proof of concept / reanalysis of an existing result to prove that they have implemented something correctly before going on to do original research in a PhD. In your case, even something that is studied before but from another perspective would count as original research though, so I think it should be fine for Masters work for sure and maybe even PhD work, as long as there's enough to do from the perspectives not covered by previous work.

 

Seconded.  When I did my master's thesis, my original idea was entirely new research on a population that people didn't even realize existed.  However, it ended up being a proof of concept re-analysis of existing literature as applied to that community, along with a chapter on "future opportunities."

Why?  A few reasons.  First off, the master's program (mine, and I imagine most others) is more about teaching you to understand research rather than create your own.  So even though we had a "research methods" course, very little of that was about "The steps to follow to conduct research yourself," and none of it was pairing with a professor to learn through apprenticeship.

Secondly, from the day that I submitted my thesis proposal to the day I submitted the thesis was 11 months.  And there was a lot of time in there where I wasn't working on it.  So, really, by the time I had an idea of what I wanted to do, had a population I could study, access-wise, and had something that could get approved by the IRB...I had 3 months to get the IRB approval, do all the interviews, write it up, and turn it in.  So I made the executive decision to forgo that and to focus on that for a dissertation instead.


So, it was totally annoying and frustrating for me, but if the goal is to finish the MA and go onto PhD, you gotta do what you gotta do.

 

 

As a piece of advice, I found that whenever my advisor ripped me apart, I had to take 2-3 days away from the paper (and his feedback) to process and deal wtih it.  Otherwise, my response would've been...unprofessional. :-)  My Spouse has a negative opinion of the advisor as a result of hearing my vent, but I think it helped me work with it and be a better researcher/scholar.  So, if you can, maybe set it aside and do something you love until Sunday before you go back to it?

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2 hours ago, E-P said:

Seconded.  When I did my master's thesis, my original idea was entirely new research on a population that people didn't even realize existed.  However, it ended up being a proof of concept re-analysis of existing literature as applied to that community, along with a chapter on "future opportunities."

Why?  A few reasons.  First off, the master's program (mine, and I imagine most others) is more about teaching you to understand research rather than create your own.  So even though we had a "research methods" course, very little of that was about "The steps to follow to conduct research yourself," and none of it was pairing with a professor to learn through apprenticeship.

Secondly, from the day that I submitted my thesis proposal to the day I submitted the thesis was 11 months.  And there was a lot of time in there where I wasn't working on it.  So, really, by the time I had an idea of what I wanted to do, had a population I could study, access-wise, and had something that could get approved by the IRB...I had 3 months to get the IRB approval, do all the interviews, write it up, and turn it in.  So I made the executive decision to forgo that and to focus on that for a dissertation instead.


So, it was totally annoying and frustrating for me, but if the goal is to finish the MA and go onto PhD, you gotta do what you gotta do.

 

 

As a piece of advice, I found that whenever my advisor ripped me apart, I had to take 2-3 days away from the paper (and his feedback) to process and deal wtih it.  Otherwise, my response would've been...unprofessional. :-)  My Spouse has a negative opinion of the advisor as a result of hearing my vent, but I think it helped me work with it and be a better researcher/scholar.  So, if you can, maybe set it aside and do something you love until Sunday before you go back to it?

That's very good advice! :) And you're right, a master's thesis should be about learning the research process rather than coming with something entirely original and new. 

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2 hours ago, rising_star said:

So, I've been thinking on this since I first read your original post. I'm wondering why, if you're so invested in this topic and have gotten grant money for it, you aren't trying to think about ways to address the critiques of your committee to build a stronger, feasible project. If I were you, I would meet with the two representatives of the community (the one who was at the meeting and the one who wasn't) and talk to them about how you can do your project in such a way that it addresses their concerns and (ideally) meets some of their needs as well. That is, what do they think you would need to do to have closer ties with the community? Could you volunteer alongside the workers and incorporate that into your research design in some way, for example? 

Second, you need to speak to your committee rather directly about why they think the only appropriate community for you to study is one you are already a part of. I'm not sure about your field but there is tons of scholarship where people write about communities they aren't a part of. I mean, that's the foundation of anthropology to some degree. There has been a great deal of pushback against that more recently but, that also doesn't mean people have to exclusively study those of the same ethnicity as them. Or, to be more blunt, if that were the case, a whole lot of white academics would have to stop what they're doing immediately and start studying white people instead of all the other things they study. I highly recommend that you read up on this and prepare them a short memo explaining why you chose this community to study and why it is perfectly valid to study a community besides the black one. Be prepared, have references, etc. This goes for the question of why you'd study sexual violence when you haven't experienced it too.

Third, go back to what it is that you got you interested in this topic in the first place. What are the questions that you wanted to know? Is there another way to approach answering these such that you meet your own intellectual curiosity while also addressing the concerns of your committee? 

Good luck!

Because one year is not realistic to create those links to address the issue. I feel like it will be impossible to achieve, especially since I have approached a few organizations informally (including one I was a volunteer for) and none of them have gotten back to me and I don't want to 'harass' them, especially if they feel like the project won't be relevant or helpful to them.  I feel like that would be even more disrespectful, and would do a disservice to me as a young scholar and to them as well. I feel like I should take it as a sign that none of the organizations have gotten back to me. And if none of them have given me the permission to work on this topic, I feel like I shouldn't do it, because otherwise, it would be extremely disrespectful. I basically have no project that's feasable within one year, I feel like I need to change everything in it. 

Plus , the member that wasn't at the meeting had someone who passed away and she's on a leave of absence for an indefinite period. She would have been a good resource since she is based at my uni, but I feel like right now, I shouldn't be talking about my research project to her (her husband passed away). 

About studying a community you're a part of, I don't want to argue with the member that brought that point up. She mentionned that I was somewhat 'taking the place' of a scholar of her own community who could be doing this research. I agree with you, but I don't want to make her feel like I'm an outsider who's giving her a lecture about this because she's probably tired of it already, she has to confront outsiders all the time and I can only imagine how exhausting and frustrating that must be on a daily basis to have outsiders speaking for yourself. I just don't want to get into a confrontation about this for these reasons.

I felt uncomfortable during the meeting because I did not respond to any of the criticism, I just sat there and listened and tried to absorb it. I wanted to listen to what that member especially had to say because I feel like these things and dilemmas are not being said enough in academia. 

 

 

Edited by Adelaide9216

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And I have explained to them why I wanted to study this, but they felt like my reasons weren't deep enough. They felt like it was a way for me to 'run away' from studying my own community or something that's closer to myself. I literally don,t know what to respond to that, I feel like I should have the right to study whatever I want...

 

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23 minutes ago, Adelaide9216 said:

And I have explained to them why I wanted to study this, but they felt like my reasons weren't deep enough. They felt like it was a way for me to 'run away' from studying my own community or something that's closer to myself. I literally don,t know what to respond to that, I feel like I should have the right to study whatever I want...

 

You absolutely should! I'm a Latino in the US who majored in French, and the number of times I've been told that I should've majored in Spanish instead is irritating. It's necessary and good to know one's community, but it also broadens one's mind to study other cultures, communities and languages. The background of a researcher should not matter as long as they are acquainted with a subject or field.

It's also sort of a microaggression that you are expected to represent just your community. Other people are never questioned when they decide to study communities other than their own, yet for some, minority students are supposed to just study their own communities? It makes no sense! We all have a right to express our intellectual curiosity in any way we like.

That specific 'criticism' is shallow, and you should not pay much attention to it.

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On one hand I full-heartedly agree that scholars of color should have the right to study whatever they want, but I also understand where the community representatives may be coming from in wanting their group to be studied only by community members. I do not know specifically which community you are studying but many marginalized communities have been taken advantage of by White scholars, as you yourself have mentioned, which may make them feel wary of all “outsiders,” so to speak. This is particularly true of indigenous communities who are often even reluctant to let indigenous scholars conduct research. This is not to say that you have to study  the issue in your own community - distancing yourself in order to protect yourself is real and necessary.  And I agree with the above poster that it is micro aggressive to demand that all scholars of color must study only their own group. I just don’t know how to navigate this issue, unfortunately. Sadly, White scholars do not get questioned like this - mostly because they do not invite in community members to consult with as they develop their research proposals like you did, which is wrong of them. 

Edited by shiningorb

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4 hours ago, Carly Rae Jepsen said:

You absolutely should! I'm a Latino in the US who majored in French, and the number of times I've been told that I should've majored in Spanish instead is irritating. It's necessary and good to know one's community, but it also broadens one's mind to study other cultures, communities and languages. The background of a researcher should not matter as long as they are acquainted with a subject or field.

It's also sort of a microaggression that you are expected to represent just your community. Other people are never questioned when they decide to study communities other than their own, yet for some, minority students are supposed to just study their own communities? It makes no sense! We all have a right to express our intellectual curiosity in any way we like.

That specific 'criticism' is shallow, and you should not pay much attention to it.

Preach! You're so right.

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13 hours ago, Adelaide9216 said:

Because one year is not realistic to create those links to address the issue. I feel like it will be impossible to achieve, especially since I have approached a few organizations informally (including one I was a volunteer for) and none of them have gotten back to me and I don't want to 'harass' them, especially if they feel like the project won't be relevant or helpful to them.  ...I basically have no project that's feasable within one year, I feel like I need to change everything in it. 

There's no aspect of the topic whatsoever that you could study in a year? I'm not saying that you have to collect primary data yourself but, could you do a project which focuses on what isn't known and, for example, develops a model study design for filling in the existing gaps? Like I said, going back to what got you interested in the project in the first place might help you discover ways to study aspects of this topic even if it isn't your original ideal project. 

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44 minutes ago, rising_star said:

There's no aspect of the topic whatsoever that you could study in a year? I'm not saying that you have to collect primary data yourself but, could you do a project which focuses on what isn't known and, for example, develops a model study design for filling in the existing gaps? Like I said, going back to what got you interested in the project in the first place might help you discover ways to study aspects of this topic even if it isn't your original ideal project. 

Yeah, I would need to discuss that with my supervisor, because I feel like there is so little information on my specific topic that I have to change topics if I'm not collecting primary data. I'm unsure about what you mean by 'developing a model study design' ? 

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18 minutes ago, Adelaide9216 said:

Yeah, I would need to discuss that with my supervisor, because I feel like there is so little information on my specific topic that I have to change topics if I'm not collecting primary data. I'm unsure about what you mean by 'developing a model study design' ? 

What I mean is devising a study design that future scholars can carry out. 

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19 minutes ago, rising_star said:

What I mean is devising a study design that future scholars can carry out. 

It's a good idea but I am afraid that even that could be perceived as disrespectful for this population because the study design will not be made in collaboration with any grassroots organizations :( I'm very afraid to keep the same topic since I am faced with such resistance from the community...I would need to talk about that with my supervisor.

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