In the final months of graduating my Bachelor’s degree, I have contemplated to do an Honours’ year. The downside to this was I had to do a thesis, and at that time, I totally detest research.
Fast-forward three years and I find myself choosing, voluntarily, to do a minor thesis. These past seven weeks, I find myself being stretched considerably. My boyfriend said, and I quote, ‘This is the first time I’ve seen you being a workaholic.’
Considering that this was just the beginning, I shudder. But I realise something else about myself: I actually quite enjoy the journey (thus far).
To be honest, if I decide to do a thesis straightaway after Bachelor’s, I’m pretty sure I’d crash and burn. At the moment, I’m truly grateful for the extra maturity that age, working experience and Master’s learning experience have given me. Thesis is hard. Research is hard. But it might actually be more fun than just doing coursework subjects.
For those of you who have no idea what it’s like to do thesis, let me try to explain.
You start with an idea of what you want to research in mind. During your first meeting with your supervisor, this idea would have been tossed away and replaced with ten more new ideas, all equally promising. By the second time you meet your supervisor, these ten ideas would be replaced with thirty new ones, and your supervisor would say that everything’s equally good but remember, not everything can be researched.
So you begin with some false starts.
I started with wanting to research on the shifting genre trends in Young Adult literature. Since then, I have thought of researching on Harry Potter, dystopian books, controversy in content in YA literature and the new adult phenomenon.
At this stage, my working thesis title is this: Do Online Audience Make Bestsellers? Readers’ Emotional Engagement in Young Adult Literature and The Case of John Green’s Books.
Yes, it’s totally different to what it was.
(And if you’re interested, I can show you my research proposal.)
And you have to read. a. lot. of. journal. papers. You have to figure out how you’re going to analyse your research topic – how are you going to choose the data? What data analyses would you run? Which theoretical framework would you base your topic on?
Frankly, all my years of learning comms do not prepare me for this. It’s good that I used to major in Psychology, because I have some general knowledge on research. In comms, you are not taught about research. Seriously.
And weirdly, I find myself investing a lot in this thesis. Two weeks ago, I broke my no-work-on-weekend policy and ended up spending almost the whole Sunday typing 6000 words for my 4000-word research thesis proposal. I find myself being excited on the chance of meeting my supervisor and getting good feedback to the amount of work that I have put.
I guess working in Unimelb’s Research department influences this a little (or a lot).
Looking back, I find myself thinking, ‘It’s good that I don’t choose to do thesis back then, because I would totally hate it.’
So perhaps there really is a time for everything, and most of all, perhaps there’s always time to prove yourself wrong. Perhaps there’s time to surprise yourself.
I’m not sure what I’d say nine months down the road when I submit my thesis, but in the meantime, I’m happy to keep challenging myself and see how far I can go the distance.
Photo by Janneke Staaks, Creative Commons