Sunday, January 20, 2008

merlin didnt like statistics!

Academic research is just not my cup of tea! I have a strong dislike for statistics and any results they predict. So, having to do a heavy weight (6 credits paper compared with 3 credits for the other 5) compulsory research project in the final semester of your undergraduate studies doesn’t make life seem any easy. This comes with the additional realization of the fact of ours (St. Francis batch of 2005-08) being the first ever batch subjected to the semester system (would that qualify us as pioneers or guinea pigs?) and its resultant consequent of we (B com professionals) having been given only one semester (90 working days or 4 months of college including abundant holidays) to complete the project as compared to our seniors who had more than twice that time (annual examination system). Thank them now, be elated, be proud or blame them for setting such standards in this research exercise over the last years that the evaluators now expect nothing short of a PhD paper from undergraduate students who now have less than half the time with more than twice the pressure (academic and life- read admission into an MBA oops diploma awarding B-school, or fulltime CA articleship or CS inter or final examinations). Add to that fools like me who don’t believe in the credibility of statistical analysis of most kinds… at least the ones that I can undertake at this stage of my education in finance and statistics and thus plan to do a research project over a period of 10 days by simply anthologizing various papers done earlier and pick up a super-sophisticated topic like ‘diversification of banks into non traditional banking sectors’ worded simply to people-with-dislike-for-long-titles as ‘universal banking’. You have 40 days to do your project and it takes you 30 days to realize that things are worse than it seems, in other words, that you have created just the right environment for the world to eat you up alive.

You break your I-stayed-awake-till-dash-hours-after-midnight records every night, live with the constant fear of developing spondalysis with the ever increasing growth rate in the number of hours you spend in front of the comp each day and each night, you google, you altavista (I don’t know if the verbs have yet found their place in the dictionary) almost like never before, read up every article and paper there exists on the topic, curse JSTOR for commercializing academic information on the internet (read charging users for access to academic papers after providing an abstract which enables the reader to frame a far-from-vague-idea), write close to 40 pages of notes (yes handwritten!), compose the introduction and review of literature (9 pages- keyboard typed- without copy and paste) and then one day the bomb drops on you! You learn that the osmania university evaluators who had far too much confidence in the ability of undergraduates with one semester of statistics as a paper, now have the backing of the management of the college who insist and send a guideline requisition to the evaluators asking them to make the project methodology and analysis a prime criterion in the evaluation.!

The 40 pages of written material now find their place in the bin, ditto with the 9 pages of the word document now occupying unnecessary place on my hard disk (even in the recycle bin) and the topic is finally discarded for I did not plan to do any significant analysis on the project and was hoping only to create a well structured and cohesive theory base for the work that has already been done. An analysis, which I had not thought of, and which was now required, of any nature in this topic would have to be based primarily on secondary data, the only accessible documents being the annual reports of banks, which most claim suffer from non-reliability and inadequacy, thus nullifying the entire project. Added to this is the incapacity of the researcher (read me) with regards to the awareness and competency in use of analytical tools and techniques that a research of this nature and complexity requires. A difficult task now seems super-difficult, almost to the point of being impossible and it seems only wise to discard the foolishness and move on… to a new topic.

That’s 10 days now to come up with a new topic, do the research and drop the bomb of having changed the topic at this sensitive time on my research guide. This doesn’t make me fancy academic research any more than I did earlier. Only maybe less.

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