My 1st semester of this Ph.D journey at UPM is officially over! From September 2016 until December 2016 (more like November 2016 as I didn’t have any class for the whole December due to public holidays and technical glitches), I took only one class which was Communication Research Design KOM 6117 and I just checked my grade on SGS portal; I got B+ and that means the CGPS is 3.500; and since that was the only subject I took for 1st semester (made compulsory by my faculty), that is my CGPS!
My Research Design grade.
We didn’t have any exams and due to time-constraint, only a handful of us had opportunity to present some of the selected topics. Thus, my lecturer Dr. Hamisah thought it would be best to have an individual tete-a-tete on last Friday dated 6th January 2017 to assess our grasp on respective topics methodologies as well as to keep abreast with our research progress. I have to say that all of us freaked out as we were given only 3 days to prepare (revelation on Tuesday 3rd January 2017) BUT that is Ph.D life, no?
Since I booked the slot at 4 p.m. on Friday, I pushed off from my school at Serendah in Hulu Selangor right after the school ended at 12.30 p.m. and managed to drive my way to Shah Alam’s Tengku Ampuan Jemaah Mosque via LATAR Highway for Friday Prayer. I thought of taking my sweet time but when I saw the WhatsApp message that Dr. Hamisah wanted to start the session after Friday prayer, I didn’t hesitate any longer and sped to UPM and surprisingly, arrived there circa 3.15 p.m! Phew! And luckily, no accident throughout the journey, people!
The tete-a-tete was quite like a casual one BUT an assessment, nonetheless. I have to say that initially, I thought that this was more or less like a “job interview” where you cannot say “I don’t know” to your assessor – so I was playing around the bushes for questions I wasn’t sure. For example, I was asked :-
“OK, your research is qualitative and you are doing rhetoric. Some academicians might perceive that rhetoric does not possess prestige as a legit research. How do you convince a quantitative scholar that YOUR RESEARCH is valid?”
Like I said, I thought it was a “classic interview”, so I shot an answer (although I was like “WTF-Did-I-Just-Said?”. Haha!) :-
“I thought it was not OK for the quantitative scholar to pose such ambiguity because why must there be any division between qualitative and quantitative as we are under the same umbrella of knowledge, right? I think that the quantitative scholar should practice open-mindedness and acknowledge the existence of qualitative research even if it doesn’t involve any numbers or digits or stats as qualitative is more focused on understanding the nature of the social phenomenon.”
Deep down I knew that this is not an academic answer which Dr. Hamisah kept encouraging us to familiarize ourselves with; but I thought maybe this can wriggle me out from the hook?! Apparently nay, as Dr. Hamisah continued :-
“This is not the kind of answer you expect to give to the scholar especially if he/she is your research examiner. These people are already professors in their fields and you have not yet started your research. By right, you don’t have the academic credibility to antagonize them; that is if you plan to give them THAT TYPE of answer! And if let say you were to give that answer, perhaps some of them were to say; “OK, if that so, why should I be bother to examine?” You know, you might want to reconsider the answer.”
I have to say I agree with Dr. Hamisah because I knew my answer carried no academic weightage. It was merely a rhetorical (lol!) diplomatic answer AND at this Ph.D level, my answers should be served with academic references! After playing “hide-and-seek-around-the-bushes” and Dr. Hamisah patiently listened to all my ramblings, I finally admitted to her that “maybe I should read more on how to convince a quantitative researcher on my qualitative research”. In short, I have to fathom on how to determine validity for my qualitative research! Dr. Hamisah nodded and acknowledged :-
Found this one by Merriam (1995). I am glad Dr. Hamisah raised the issue as apparently, it is a cliche question posed to those who are doing qualitative research. I need to read more on this polemic. – “While the quantitative study must convince the reader that procedures have been followed faithfully because very little concrete description of anyone does is provided, qualitative research persuades through its classical strengths of concrete depiction of detail, portrayal of process in an active mode, and attention to the perspectives of those studied.”
“Yes, that is the supposed answer. You might want to read more on how to determine the validity of your qualitative research. You must counter-back criticisms with facts and studies. That can serve as extra-points to back you up!”
Other than that, I was also asked on :-
- The philosophy on my research;
- The journals affiliated to the topic I am doing;
- Why do I choose Angelina Jolie as my subject?;
- Why is the significance to study Jolie’s speeches and what is the connection to body of knowledge?
- Have you encountered any articles or news that are related to your research?
- Can you name any journals or works that you used as your references for this research you are working on?
Honestly, I am glad that I had that tete-a-tete with Dr. Hamisah. It was fruitful one! Thanks, Dr.! Putting aside that it was part of assessment tools (in addition to attendance and classes’ discussion participation), she gave me a lot of constructive outputs and highlighted the flaws and the loopholes in my amateur research! From this, I honestly understand why it is important to have that “Ph.D angle of thinking” – we cannot think only as a researcher but also as a critic; by doing that, we can improve the quality and the defense of our research, no doubt!
I also now understand that although your research is like your baby (minus the DNA genetics or gamettes fertilization!) & you can’t help feeling sensitive when people antagonize it; there would be critics out there scrutinizing every angle for the sake of the betterment of the body of knowledge! You have to learn not taking them personally. That is essential to be done to ensure that your research embodies the academic qualities. In a way, I was glad with that session (minus the grade, though! Haha!) because I do need someone to expose me to the real wrath of merciless viva voce. And I cannot afford anymore to keep daydreaming with saccharine lullaby when my direction is going to the abyss!
Every Ph.D candidate’s nightmare! LOL!
Some people might wonder why I write all these. My blog is sorta like my life stele. I like to ponder back my life experiences and my blog is the platform for me to etch. I can even reminisced about my Master’s Degree days; my banker’s days; my wanderlust experiences, and many more through this blog. Anyway, my Ph.D journey is still far ahead. The enthusiasm is like wave. Sometimes the tidal is ferocious; sometimes it is mellow. 1st semester passes by; hopefully I can weather the upcoming 5 semesters patiently AND by that time, embodies the scholar quality qualified as a Ph.D holder. Amin!