Vice Chancellor's message to the June 2020 Cohort of Ph. D.
Good Morning and a warm welcome to the 2020-21 cohort of research scholars to CHRIST (Deemed to be University)!
Every year I find a substantial increase in the number of applications for the research programmes and in the intake of research scholars. It is heartening to note this progressive rise in research, for, your contributions and deep engagement in your chosen field of research work, impacts quality and quantity of the Indian higher education scene, imbuing it with strong standards of research method and methodology, a fine research culture and some timely solutions to crucial human crisis. At CHRIST, we take research very seriously and believe that both undergraduate and postgraduate programmes are essentially to cultivate and develop the research competencies and skill sets that you would require taking up independent research in the future. Now, you are all here, 270 of you, each one of you confident that you are equipped and prepared to take on the arduous task of research without ever compromising on quality or rigour to contribute to the society and nation, knowledge that will transform our lives for the better. Your research may be in in diverse fields- arts, humanities, social sciences, pure sciences, commerce, management- what matters is your research temperament and how you polish it in the next three to four years to produce a work of relevance and function maintaining the CHRIST vision of Excellence and Service- Academically excellent and socially purposeful. I congratulate all of you for the decision you have taken to pursue research.
Research is all pervasive and all the more important in these times of the Covid 19 and fake news. Learning to conduct research is an integral part of learning about life. Research is required not just for students and academics, but for all professionals and non-professionals alike. It is also important for budding writers, actors and journalists. For a scholar, however, the main purpose of research is to inform action, to prove, negate, synthesise or develop a theory, and contribute to developing knowledge in a field or study. It is a structured, systematic and sustained enterprise that requires complete dedication, a passion for the topic understudy and a lot of internal motivation. There is no shortcut to research and there are no quick solutions and findings. Your research process will have to go through the necessary research cycle of objective recording of your trails, experiments and analysis, the processes and methodologies and peer and expert review and validation through publications. If this cycle of research is not pursued, then chances are that you will get into the trap of making half-baked claims. I remember reading an article yesterday of how an Indian grown health and beauty firm claimed to bring out a cure for Covid 19 without following established scientific processes and the government had to intervene to stop selling and advertising the product. According to Pew Research, social media, especially Facebook, serve as the source of news for over 60 percent of adults (Chang, Lefferman, Pedersen & Martz, 2016). With the use of internet technology and social media, pseudo journalism has become a social concern. Fake news has taken center stage be it political, cultural or scientific. Therefore, I request you to fact check to know the truth. This is integral to the process of research, for it is fuelled by an inquisitive and critical mind.
Research entails both reading and writing. These two skills help enable computation and comprehension. Without these skills, it is less likely for anyone to appreciate and get involved in research. Reading opens the mind to a vast horizon of knowledge, while writing helps a reader use her/his own perspective and transform this into a more concrete idea that s/he understands. Apart from reading and writing, listening and speaking are also central in conducting research. Interviews with experts, attending knowledge-generating events like webinars, MOOCs, TED Talks all aid in formulating research topics. They can also facilitate the critical thinking process. While I leave you with these suggestions, I want you to know that, “Research is to see what everybody else has seen, and to think what nobody else has thought” (Albert Szent-Györgyi).
I wish you all success
Fr. Dr. Abraham VM, Vice Chancellor.