My Way to Japan

Research Life in Japan - Part 2
Rahul Maroju Updated in July 2023

In my previous column, I described various research resources available at the university and the schedule of a first-year master’s student. Here, I will continue sharing about my research journey.

Created by Rahul Maroju using Microsoft Word

During the early second year, a mid-defense, which explains the problem statement and the research plan should be presented to the same panel of Professors as the literature survey. The Professors and attendees then provide some comments and suggestions as feedback for this presentation. During this phase, the actual implementation of the idea begins, if not started. Most laboratories allow the students to work remotely if it is feasible. The supervisor can spend time for some one-on-one meetings if required. In most cases, the initiative must be taken by the student, who is expected to take the major ownership of the project.

For most students, this program is an opportunity to develop various skills like balancing studies with personal life such as household tasks. One needs to adapt to be independent under little supervision. The research progress may not always be as smooth as expected and this could lead to undesired results, which frustrates and causes a lot of stress. This process becomes even more demanding for PhD research. To tackle this, a lot of self-study and perseverance is required. In this grueling effort, many researchers often neglect their health, which contributes to reduced efficiency and diminished motivation. Hence, it is important to take some time off research to relax our mind as it can benefit our mental well-being and recharge us.

It would be helpful to gather support for the research from some experienced people, especially some senior lab members who provide useful tips during the lab seminars every week. This way, getting acquainted with some contacts, especially in similar fields can play a vital role for our research career even after completing the study. Apart from research, one needs to prepare for the future career path. For jobs, the job-hunting schedule must be noted, and some time must be allocated for its preparation. For higher education, relevant programs must be applied for within the due date. The supervisor supports the students by sharing information of various research programs or jobs and advice.

By the end of the final semester, a thesis must be submitted providing comprehensive details of the work. This will be reviewed by the supervisor for necessary corrections. This thesis, along with the final presentation - the master’s defense will be evaluated by the same panelists, who grade our outcome.

Owing to the excellent quality of research in the university, many of the research works will be submitted as publications to conferences. The laboratories strongly encourage this and provide the necessary expenses. As recommended by my supervisor, I also submitted my work to a conference where I presented online. Later, my work was considered for a peer review and required some modifications before it was finally accepted.

In summary, university research is often challenging, but can be overcome through proper planning despite the language barrier and other living challenges. The most important requirement is to have belief in oneself and press on the goal of exploring the path of interest.