8 November 2017

RESEARCH REMEDY: BUILDING A POSITIVE THESIS EXPERIENCE

RESEARCH COLUMN

BY: LANA TRAN

You don’t have to write a thesis, and in the Museum Studies program, not many of us choose to. It’s easy to assume that the exhibition project stream is for building a portfolio of hands-on skills; you can realize what may be your first exhibition, and graduate feeling “workplace ready”. Yet, the thesis stream is somehow a deep dive into an academic marsh: serious thinkers only. Polarizing these two options seems to overlook the potential of either in self-reflection and development as museum professionals.

If the thesis option seems too dry or daunting for you, let’s imagine something different: how can we build a sustainable, positive lifestyle around the thesis experience, rather than simply “surviving” it?

Research as Remedy

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Research is a creative process. Breaking down your experiences and worldview to identify what interests you most may ultimately help you understand what societal concerns you want to address throughout your career. In reviewing the literature, you are challenged to find a niche – in other words, go beyond the theory and contribute a part of yourself to the discussion. While research may be inherently objective, humanizing your approach can create a more fulfilling chapter in your life.

Creating Space
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Instead of slaving away at a desk, create a space where you can actually enjoy reading and writing for hours. This does not have to mean spending money on convertible standing desks and rose gold-finished marble everything. Do you have enough natural light? How can you make your workspace just a bit more ergonomic? Do you have a list of go-to study spots on our beautiful campus? Hashtags like #studyspo or #deskspo connect to tons of workspace inspiration, but for more realistic examples, you might want to check out this crowdsourced website: https://studyspac.es/

Productivity Hacking

If you haven’t heard of a Pomodoro Technique yet, this one is for you. In the wondrous new millennium, students have access to a plethora of software and social network resources to make the research process easier. Start with familiarizing yourself with resource and citation management tools like Zotero (keep an eye out for on-campus workshops to get started). Turn your computer into your personal secretary with workflow applications like digital calendars and Todoist. There are numerous YouTube channels with advice for avoiding procrastination, getting enough sleep or (my personal favorite) “Study With Me” videos of people, well, just studying.

Just be careful not to get overwhelmed – the goal is to build a menu of tools and tricks that work for you, and experimenting is half the fun. These strategies are useful beyond your thesis.

Campus Resources

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These resources are often worth their weight in gold, and you are already paying as a student! Try a personal librarian consultation to get your research kick-started. With the right questions, your professor’s office hours can be a source of information beyond the in-class syllabus. Outside of the classroom, consider checking in with a trainer, a nutritionist, an upper-year mentor, the embedded counsellor, or whoever else you need to make sure you have the support system your body and mind deserve.

And of course, use your peers! With the organizational support of MUSSA, I’m holding an informal meet-and-greet for first and second year students considering or undertaking the Museum Studies thesis option. All are welcome!

Date & Time: November 13, 12:00-1:00 pm
Location: Inforum 520


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