Role of Discipline in Graduate Research

In Education on January 7, 2013 at 7:32 PM

I recently came across a blog post titled “The Disciplined Pursuit of Less” on Harvard Business Review blog network. The author, Greg McKeown, describes in this article what distinguishes successful people from very successful people. There are many people who are good at doing many things and are willing to do them. They excel in almost everything that they do, no matter how varied those tasks are. Some of them, at one point in time, begin to ask themselves if they want to keep on doing things this way or they want to be remembered for just a few things where they excelled to astronomical heights. The HBR blog post is for those people. There are many who are just happy doing different kinds of things and never bothering themselves with that introspective question. They are happy with the many significant contributions, no matter small or big,  that they have made. But some of the more ambitious ones who are not satisfied with whatever they do, no matter how good they are at it, might want to read that blog post. The author has described in a very nice way the importance of priorities, the need for conscious decision making about what we choose to do with our skills.

It happens in graduate research also. Often, graduate students have the option to try many different options in their research. But in order to make the 4-5 years of their graduate research meaningful, they need to carefully consider which options would make them feel more satisfied. A tightly knit story can be made around a few related research questions that have been pursued in detail compared to a loosely knit story that would result from the pursuit of many research questions which often lack an assigned order of priority.

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