Thursday, November 1, 2012

So how's research?

I realized that I hadn't made a specific post about this awesome thing, so it is time! (It is also Friday, and I struggle to get much done on Fridays)

I was lucky enough to join a research group where a group of us graduates (about 6 of us who had completed our under-grad together) began our MScs at the same time. For those of you who dont know, MScs are rarely course based these days in South Africa. Instead, they are MScs by thesis and the thesis tends to be on the scale of a Phd (at least in our research group). 

At some stage, my good friend Christien and I were chatting about Masters and she concluded it would be a cool idea to meet once a week, to discuss our thesis then work on it for a few hours afterwards in the library. We discussed it with the gang, and we all concluded that although we probably wouldn't all be able to work on our thesis's at the same time, but it would certainly be beneficial to meet once a week to discuss problems, complain about supervisors and such. 

And that was the birth of M club. Every Monday night, us graduates meet at a different restaurant - fun and informal, order some good food and ask each person the question-that-must-not-be-asked "How is research?" and listen to and discuss each person's answer. In this way, we motivate each other to plow on through, share productivity tricks, how to communicate with one's supervisor and (because we are all a group of Computer Scientists) give advice solving the obstacles we have reached with our thesis. Just sometimes explaining your issues to other people makes things clearer as well as minimizes that feeling of not making any progress even though you work on it all the time. 

Everyone gets there chance to speak and everyone listens. 

Recently, we started with a primitive reward system - if you achieved something on your thesis (no matter how small) in the past week, you get a sweetie :) Silly, but effective. 

M Club has been one of the most enjoyable and beneficial part of the first year of my MSc (ours are traditionally 2 - 3 years long). And I advise any group of researchers to start their own M club ^_^