Challenges of Conducting Research and Overcoming Them
Graduate school has been an exciting time though a stressful time, with students facing myriads of new challenges. As a Scholarly researcher, some of the typical challenges I went through with their pointers on the way to cope with them include the following.
Time management: With huge volumes of course materials, teaching, research, literature surveys, preparing seminars—there was a lot to do, and it all seems overwhelming. Therefore, the demand to ensure timeliness was the greatest challenge in my research. Among the best ways to deal with these challenges was devising a daily “things to do list” which remains helpful, or even better, an appointment planning guide. Personally, I prefer on one which shows the whole week when spread open.
Getting started in research is another major challenge in research (Smith, 2012): There always tends to be a great “activation energy” to begin any new endeavor like research program. But once one get the ball rolling, it becomes easy to keep it going with less push now and then. A remedy to this is to find a simple avenue of attack which can get one started carrying out research with analytical equipment, ordering issues, among others.
Lack of communication with an adviser is another key challenge in research: The professor is an ever busy person, sometimes so busy that spending as much time with me as I liked became a problem. Since the initial period is important to have guidance in a research project, lack of communication almost leads to giving p or failure. As a way of addressing this challenge, arrangements to meet the adviser privately and explaining the situation proved the remedy. Carrying out a regularly scheduled meeting to discuss the research, perhaps periodically became one way that worked around my adviser’s busy schedule.
Absent adviser: Physically absence of the adviser is another difficult challenge. It happened to me when I began my grad school, and my advisor left for a three-month sabbatical. Letters as well as long distance phone calls remained the only ways I communicated with him. The challenge of the absence of the supervisor can today be handled by use of email as well as Skype, which can give something similar to face to face contact (Nyquist, & Wulff, 1996).
Micromanaging adviser: Some advisers, particularly new and inexperienced, attempt to run all aspects of the research. This situation wastes some f time and defeats one of the purposes of grad school—to grow the ability to practice independent thought. Addressing this challenge is to discuss the issues tactfully and suggesting compromises, periodic updates, perhaps. If it does not work, one can consider talking other faculty members, committee, and members preferably, for mediation purposes.
The other challenge I experienced in my research is teaching: Many grad students excluding me taught classes to help pay their way. It became a terrifying experience for me from the fact that I had never done it before. A remedy to this challenge was thorough preparation for classes as well as rehearsing beforehand proves very helpful.
Finally, Colleague friction proved a challenge too: It drove me crazy when other group member used my favorite piece of equipment and left them a mess. The solution to this research challenge is remaining professional in relations with colleagues. Talking to the research advisor to talk to other colleagues proved helpful from the fact that regulations were made to curb this challenge (Russell, Hogan & Junker-Kenny, 2013).
Nyquist, J. D., & Wulff, D. H. (1996): Working effectively with graduate assistants. Thousand Oaks, Calif: Sage.
Russell, C., Hogan, L., & Junker-Kenny, M. (2013): Ethics for graduate researchers: A cross- disciplinary approach. Amsterdam: Elsevier.
Smith, L.-H. (2012). Research beyond borders: Multidisciplinary Reflections. Lanham, Md: Lexington Books.