I can’t keep secrets. I’m not referring to my friend’s hush-hushes or any information that may harm others in any shape or form. I am talking about lessons and experiences in life that are worth sharing with others. For example, when I made a mistake of choosing an overly complex research question for my dissertation, I decided to write an article to tell everyone about it, so that others won’t make the same mistake as I did. This habit of mine, I suspect, comes from having been immersing myself in the world of scientific research for almost a decade. You see, the very basis of a researcher’s job is to develop new knowledge that contributes towards human’s understanding of the world, and to share these new information with everyone.
In the scientific world, there is an unspoken rule that researchers must be fluent in English in order to obtain international recognition for their work. Even if one does not speak fluent English, the researcher should at least possess a certain level of understanding in the language in order to access and read scientific literature, which are usually only available in English. In fact, it has become one of the main characteristics that employers actively seek for in young research talents. As a result, it is common for scholars to publish their academic work in English, even though English is not their native language, whereas scientists who are not fluent in English struggle to gain recognition for their work, or even survive in the ever increasingly competitive world of academia.
While having an international scientific language allows for better communication among researchers from all around the world, there are two caveats in applying this readily-accepted rule: 1) What happens to research findings that are published in languages other than English? 2) How do researchers readily apply knowledge and insights gained from scientific research findings published in English in non-English-speaking countries?
You are sitting in front of the computer, staring at one of the thirty browser windows that you have opened as a result of your online search for a research topic. For the past few days, you have been going round in circles, trying to nail down a research problem to work on, but to no avail. In fact, as a last resort to this exasperating quest, you have now decided to Google for “how to find a research topic”. If this sounds familiar, it is because it is not new. If you have the experience of conducting your own study, chances are, at the early stages of your research, you have faced with the difficulty of deciding on a research question and have constantly wondered if you were asking the right question. In truth, the search for a good research question is a daunting task, especially when researchers are often expected to know how to identify or figure out a good research question on their own.
Fortunately, with every problem, there is always a place at which we can use as a starting point that will hopefully lead us to a desirable solution.