Our dearth of research
It cannot be denied that, compared to other leading universities in the country, and especially in other countries, our universities in the region lag behind in the area of research, and I’ve been seeing some reasons that explain it.
I never forget that, in year 2002, I submitted a paper to a research office here but was rejected because I was told it had to be empirical, statistical, numerical, experimental, and other intimidating demands. But when I submitted that same paper to an international conference, it was readily accepted for presentation.
My friends were quite surprised. They could hardly believe that I made it as paper presenter to an international forum. One said that it is even difficult to be accepted in the national level, how much more in an international confab? Little do they know, from what I have observed in the succeeding presentations I have had, that these paper givers there are just simple guys sharing simple things, coming up with simple research titles as simple as “Bongga Ka Day.”
Yes, academicians in leading universities are productive in research, even without necessarily making life so difficult for them. They just observe how ants interact among themselves over certain situations, or find out why Rizal couldn’t maintain relationships with women, or explain why Filipinos have assigned dissertation to doctorate and thesis to master’s even if the two are the same, and they already have research.
Why are we not equally productive here in the region? Well, one problem I see is that, people here are intimidated by the idea of research. They think it is something that only geniuses can do, and that ordinary folks cannot engage in it. They perceive research as a highly intellectual endeavor that only academic scholars can successfully work on. To them, this is an enormous task, overwhelmingly difficult, and is almost impossible to do.
This perception of research being too hard to accomplish could, in a way, be blamed to the overacting of some of our research teachers here, who were likewise taught to espouse the same regard of research by their former mentors. The idea is just passed on from one generation of learners to the next. And so it is not surprising that when students hear about research, they tremble on their knees, and some would even panic as if they are faced with a monstrous task.
Why, instead of impressing upon learners that research is an exciting and thrilling activity, our teachers have been intimidating them that research is something traumatic. So when students engage in it, it is not because they enjoy doing research, but it’s just more on compliance of requirements. Interest in research is replaced by fear.
And so when you look at their dedications or acknowledgements in the preliminary pages of their research papers, you can really infer how much anguish they had gone through doing their study. It seems like they went through a life-threatening, exhausting, and intensely agonizing process. Who among our young people would still take interest in research given that orientation? No one, almost, to the handicap of our provincial universities.
Unknown to these learners, research is a highly interesting, challenging, self-fulfilling, and greatly rewarding activity. It’s just a matter of getting started. There is thrill, suspense, and excitement in the process knowing that, through research, one is able to discover something that could contribute to knowledge. The established theories, formats, techniques, and methodologies that serve as guides in the process make research an easy thing to do. Gone are the days when “only geniuses could do research.”
The notion then that research is too difficult must now be discarded. And teachers who used research to terrorize students must now repent of that misdeed, or perhaps acknowledge, that their overacting and assumed monopoly of research technicalities are nothing but fallacies. Research should be taught as simple as it is, rid of impossibilities, of overwhelming demands, of threatening tenets.
By: Doms Pagliawan
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