Coping with Varied and Contrasting Feedback on your Thesis

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When as a research scholar you start writing your thesis, it is not just a mere work of writing for which you are going to jot a few well known, well-rehearsed sentences, but a piece of literary art that requires full focus, crystal clear conceptual understanding and subject matter expertise. Owing to these pre requisites of a perfectly written and error free consolidation of ideas, methods and results, research writing becomes a brainchild of the researcher it belongs to.

However, this assumption about any piece of academic writing falls short, once it is presented in front of the very first panel for analysis and feedback. At this time, there could either be appreciation and encouragement, in which case there is only climbing on top of the success ladder as an academician. In another case there could be suggestions, critical feedback or even outright rejection at some levels. This situation becomes discouraging for the researcher at surface level, however in the long run, if feedback received is constructive; a scholar can finally turn his best piece of work in.

Ironically, the problem arises when a scholar receives contrasting views and opinions about his research work. For instance, one member of the panel wants a certain section included in your research work and another member finds no sense in the idea. This is the actual area of concern since the brainchild of a researcher is now being openly debated and negotiated upon. Additionally the problem is that you are still clueless as to how this problem can be solved for the best.

The following steps must be kept in mind during such a frustrating situation:

  1. Change your perception: Don’t just look at the situation as one where no solution can be found, in fact view it as a healthy and challenging one that is optimum for the development of any emerging research scholar. This is where the inevitable quality of “judgement” in a researcher in put to test, at the end of which, the only one benefitting is you.
  2. Appreciate your panel: Remember that they constitute a panel due to their accomplished talent in this field and that they belong to varied fields of research. Considering and appreciating their varied opinion will only make your research work dynamic and multi-faceted.
  3. Maintain your levelheadedness: Under no circumstance is a researcher expected to lose their temperament or panic over a discussion or a review meeting of their work. One needs to have a very calm state of mind that welcomes valuable feedback. Panicking is best avoided, since it prevents any rational decision making.
  4. Have an Open Mind: If you enter with the pre conceived notion that the advice rendered by one panelist will supersede the other, or that you favor one over the other, then chances are that your actions will reflect the same. The most unprofessional thing to do would be to ignore any panelist’s advice. So it is suggested that you whole heartedly accept what is said and leave the analysis of the same for a latter and a more pleasant state of mind.
  5. Put your scholarly skills to work: Since there has been a conflict in feedback, the choice is yours once again. That makes your work your brainchild once again. The best part is that you now have expert advice as well. It is now in your best interest to research some more, perform fresh and unbiased studies and finally according to your own cognizance chose an alternative.

While we started by saying that researchers should appreciate and accept the evaluation given by panelists, at the same it is also of prime significance that even supervisors make peace with conflicting views and leave the rest to the researcher’s acumen.

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