Published international research low by Japanese

Compared to the world growth in publishing at eighty-percent Japan is falling behind at just 14%. 

Figures given this morning showed exchange to America has fallen from the peak of over 47,000 students to under 19,000. Furthermore, money put into research has dropped dramatically. 

If Japan is to compete academically it will need to increase spending in exchange and research

metamorphosisyphus thesis

push along push up

boulders ever bolder 

no end in sight

a page at a time 

every single word 

is laborious 

as long as i am 

not rejected 

i will continue

What is research?

“If you ask a group of graphologists to study the same piece of handwriting, they all come out with different interpretations. It’s no different from astrology or numerology.” From an article on the science of Graphology

One of the most important things about research is that it should repeatable or be open to replication. So when different people come up with different results from the same data it can only be seen as opinion based not on fact.

But even careful use of hard data we may not be right. There is a certain amount  of interpretation as to how to approach the data you have in front of you. So the question is how good is that interpretation, because if the data is all you need then a computer can give you the answer and that is certainly never the case.

What is agreed upon is that certain sets of techniques and interpretations are worth pursuing at any one time (and I must stress at a time). They are not always correct. Read Thomas S Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions and you will understand even groups of people can get things wrong. We are more manipulated by our language and culture than we would like to believe even in our age of post-Kuhn-ism.

Apple Digital AV Adapter for iPhone/iPad

Wow. Who needs a computer anymore when you have an iPhone or iPad. With this digital AV adapter you can do your powerpoint presentations from your igear. Check out jetdaisuke‘s video on YouTube (sorry, in Japanese but you can get an idea of how it works).

A lesson from running

I ran into a retired professor who had taught me during my Masters degree recently. He had taught me about the difference between study and research (let’s leave that one for another post).

Being the teacher that he is he told me about his chance meeting of an old coach of the ekiden (Japanese style marathon) in the famous local high school. The coach said that one should not worry about the final goal when running but focus on the goal he can literally see. He said to focus on the goal of reaching that telegraph post at the top of the hill or the bend in the road, not on the final goal which is a concept in one’s head far beyond the place where you are on your run.

Like running then academic research is similar in that if you think only of the end goal the task will seem overwhelming.

Make your goals small and achievable. This is true not only of research but of everything we do. In some ways it is to focus on immediate tasks rather than long term ones even though we need the over picture, the roadmap so to speak, to get anything big like a thesis done.

Academic life – it’s all about publish or perish, and quality over quantity

The bottom line in academia is publish or perish … but … .

I have a friend who says publish anything anywhere but in the long run that is academic suicide. Publishing a junk paper in a junk journal is selling yourself short academically. And there are some who think publishing a lot is important. Sure it is. But publishing ten papers in a year can not and will not be seen as good academic practice.

There is something to be said about quality over quantity. To use a mass production of goods analogy, Made in China is everywhere but products with this label soon fall apart. There is nothing like Made in Japan. You may not see many of them out there but they are really durable, of excellent quality. So which do you want to be – a product with a Made in Japan or Made in China label?

In short, one should take pride in their research. A scholar of any worth should not take their life’s work, their  ‘viva‘, the term for the defence of their thesis, lightly.

To survive in the academic world, then, one should publish often within practicality. This means maybe 1-3 papers a year. There should be always something cooking on your stovetop, so to speak. If you are not working on something then you are not really an academic. And one should also publish in peer reviewed journals of quality even if it feels like selling your soul. Actually the feeling of selling your soul is really a sign of not good academic quality. Afterall the point of your research is to convince the readers (first the reviewers, then the readers) through strong evidence and reasoning that your findings and interpretation are valid. If your research cannot do that then there is something wrong with either 1) your research and research results, and/or 2) your writing.

And now I must go turn off the web browser, return to my research and put my money where my mouth is.