Tuesday, 19 August 2014

THESIS REFLECTION: THE NON-MONETARY BENEFITS OF SSHRC

BY: ROBIN NELSON

For our last thesis posts this summer we want to talk about what we have found helpful as students pursuing the thesis option. I hope that these next few posts can help incoming students interested in the thesis option! I am going to talk about SSHRC - the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council - CGS M program and how useful the application process is.

The Joseph-Armand Bombardier CGS Master's Scholarships funding opportunity seeks to develop research skills and assist in the training of highly qualified personnel by supporting students in the social sciences and humanities who demonstrate a high standard of achievement in undergraduate and early graduate studies.

Basically it is a $17500 scholarship available to Masters students doing research (so those in the thesis option). The application (which you should start writing in October) is due at the beginning of December and involves writing a one-page summary of your intended research. A research summary intended to solicit money is a weird brand of writing unlike anything I had ever done before. It is hard and takes a lot of work because you not only have to articulate clearly and concisely what you want to do, but you also have to be confident regarding your research’s relevance. For me this meant skimming a lot of bibliographies and reading abstracts to determine what’s out there, positioning my interests within what exists and identifying a gap in existing knowledge. 

Me while writing the application

I originally wrote my SSHRC application (or a version of it) as part of a Research Methods (INF1240H) assignment. However, this course is only offered during the second semester this year (I believe), after the SSHRC deadline has based. That does not mean you should not apply! I cannot emphasize enough how helpful writing the page on my research was. It forced me to get familiar with relevant materials and really think about what I wanted to do. The more certain I became regarding what I was going to do, the better I was able to tailor my assignments in other classes to my interests. Later, I was able to use the materials I found while writing the SSHRC application and doing the assignments to write my thesis proposal. 
Writing SSHRC also forced me to talk about my research. I went to my teachers and other students who were interested in the thesis option, forming a support network. This support was crucial in writing the application and it has continued to be helpful afterward, keeping me calm (or calmer) during the research phase.

Keeping calm can be a challenge
Some people do not apply because they do not think they will get the money. Even if you do not get the money, thinking and talking about your research is helpful. Another reason people may not apply is that they are uncertain regarding their topic. The awesome thing is, the process helps you become more certain and your interests can continue to evolve (mine have). 

Nicole Ritchie and I both received SSHRC for the upcoming year and would be happy to talk to any student thinking of applying. We’re also happy to invite incoming students into our support group! Please comment or email us if you would like to get in touch.

1 comment:

  1. Great post Robin! I wish I had read something like this as an incoming MMSt student. Also, these photos are the best (*thumbs up!*)

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