In the journey of postgraduate studies, a research project is an essential milestone. Embarking on a postgraduate research is akin to setting sail into uncharted waters. With the compass of curiosity and the sails of ambition, scholars navigate through a vast ocean of knowledge, seeking to chart their course towards meaningful contributions to their fields. The process of identifying a researchable topic, gathering resources, and securing funding can be stressing for many students in this ever-evolving academic voyage, therefore, guidance and insights are invaluable. That’s where our symposiums come into play, serving as a light of wisdom illuminating the path for aspiring researchers. In this article, we will explore various aspects of conducting research, from ideation to grant application and management as presented in the symposium.

Dr. Cynthia Mugo, Director BPS, making her presentation on the acronym POOR

Our recent postgraduate symposium served as an oasis of ideas and experiences, bringing together seasoned academics, emerging scholars, and experts to explore the intricacies of research in the 21st century. Covering an array of essential topics, from inception to execution, the symposium delved into the very essence of research, equipping participants with the tools and knowledge necessary to navigate the complex seas of academia.

Anchoring in Purpose: Why Research Matters

Amidst the ebbs and flows of academic pursuit, one question looms large: why does research matter? Our symposium underscored the profound impact of scholarly inquiry, from advancing knowledge to addressing societal challenges. Participants were reminded that beyond the pursuit of tenure or publication, research serves a higher purpose—a quest for truth, understanding, and progress. Dr. Patrick Kubai took time to underscore the need for research and his sentiments were repeated by the preceding speakers.

Dr. Patrick Kubai, Coordinator of Research and made his presentation on the need to do research in the 21st century.

  1. Setting the Course: Finding Your Researchable Topic

Every academic journey begins with a question—a spark of curiosity igniting the flame of inquiry. At our symposium, Ms. Ruth Gibendi, the senior librarian, asked participants to write their research topics. Participants delved into the art of crafting a researchable topic, exploring methodologies to identify gaps in existing literature and formulate meaningful research questions. From brainstorming sessions to mentorship opportunities, scholars honed their skills in defining the scope and significance of their research endeavors. Gallagher & Gallagher, 2018 says, a good research topic should be specific enough to allow for in-depth analysis but broad enough to yield significant findings.

  1. Navigating the Archives: Accessing Resources

Once you have identified your research topic, the next step is to locate relevant literature. In the vast expanse of academia, access to relevant literature is paramount. Databases like Google Scholar, JSTOR, PubMed, or Web of Science and journal databases like DOAJ provide a number of articles that contain most of the articles that one could need. Our symposium provided insights into the myriad avenues available for sourcing articles, accessing theses, and navigating journal databases. Our University has partnered with other universities to subscribe to popular academic databases. Ms. Gibendi took the participants through on how to access some databases. Participants learned the ropes of efficient literature reviews, harnessing the power of digital repositories and academic networks to enrich their scholarly pursuits.

Securing funding for your research project can significantly enhance its scope and impact. Securing funding is often the wind in the sails of academic research. Symposium attendees gained firsthand insights into the grant application process, from identifying suitable funding opportunities to crafting compelling proposals. Workshops and panel discussions shed light on the dos and don’ts of grant applications, empowering scholars to navigate the competitive landscape of research funding with confidence.

Prof. Arimi was gracious enough to share some sites where to find grants listed and some organizations that offer funding opportunities

To apply for grants:

  • Thoroughly review the eligibility requirements and application guidelines provided by each funding organization;
  • Prepare a compelling proposal outlining the significance of your research question(s), methodology, expected outcomes, timeline, budget justification, and qualifications of the research team;
  • Submit all required application materials a few weeks before the deadline to allow for any additions if necessary.

Weathering the Storms in research: Coping with Rejection and Success

Resilience is as vital as rigor in academia. Our symposium addressed the highs and lows of grant applications, offering guidance on how to navigate rejection with grace and perseverance. From coping mechanisms to resilience-building strategies, participants gleaned insights into the importance of resilience in the face of adversity—and celebrated the triumphs of successful grant awards with humility and gratitude. Remember that grant applications are highly competitive; therefore, receiving one does not necessarily reflect superior merit compared to unsuccessful applicants. Instead focus on continuous improvement in both your research skills and grant writing abilitie

Too much learning without play makes learners dull. This was a moment for the chicken dance. How well can you dance?

The Present and Future: The Role of AI in Research

As technology reshapes the research landscape, the symposium explored the ever-growing role of artificial intelligence in academia. From data analysis to predictive modeling, participants examined how AI is revolutionizing research methodologies, opening new frontiers of discovery and innovation. Prof. Mutua took time to explain about AI and how to use if for the betterment of research. Adding his voice to the topic, Prof. Arimi shared while its prudent to try and understand what Artificial Intelligence is, it’s prudent to think about the future of AI instead of thinking what AI is all about now.

Prof. Makau Mutua a professor of data science making his presentation on Artificial intelligence.

In conclusion, our postgraduate symposium was more than a gathering of minds—it was a testament to the transformative power of collaboration, curiosity, and community. As scholars set sail on their respective academic journeys, may they navigate research with courage, conviction, and a steadfast commitment to making waves of positive change in the world. A feedback on how to better improve the experience of the symposium will go a long way in shaping future events. You can email your feedbacks to research@must.ac.ke or bps@must.ac.ke .

A group photo of the postgraduates and the facilitators of the event posing for a photo.