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Richard Agu: What’s this Fuss About Research Among Undergraduates?

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dreamstime_m_29636881Entering the final year in the university is always an exciting feeling for undergraduates. They just can’t wait to write their degree examinations and defend their project works. In the center of this excitement, one thought weighs them down. It’s RESEARCH.

The course “Research Methodology” is an important and excited course where undergraduates are expected to learn and understand the process of collection, presentation, analysis and interpretation of data for the purpose of describing vividly existing conditions, prevailing practical beliefs, attitudes, on-going processes etc.

Unfortunately, most undergraduates see research as an uphill task and devise many strategies to maneuver it. Such as:

Operation Copy and Paste
This is one act prevalent in most tertiary institutions in Nigeria. This involves searching for past works and copying them verbatim with little or no modifications. Such works can be found in the university libraries or from friends and relatives who conducted the studies.

Research Consultants
Most students resort to researchers for project writings and other related services. The researcher fixes his/her fees and if the deal is struck, he/she writes, type and print the project for the students. At the end of the day, such students pick up the work and summit for defense.

Perhaps they may or may not defend their project well, but one thing is sure; acquisitions of certificates while the researcher smiles to the bank.

Internet
Goodness! It’s an information communication and technology world where almost everything can be obtained online. Most students surf the net to search and purchase project reports. Fortunately for them, there are thousands of bloggers and researchers who are praying for clients like them.

Most students who utilized this platform feel they have used one stone to kill thousands of birds. But on the contrary, they are killing their brains’ capacity in one million ways.

Using one stone to kill thousands of birds, in the sense that online project materials are cheap ranging from 5,000 to 10,000 Naira. Second, they either do not worry about the typing cost or stress themselves typing the work in their systems, since it a typed and well packaged work.

On the contrary, they are killing their brains’ capacity to brainstorm and enhance their creative, critical and innovative skills.

It is as a result of these anomalies that most lecturers in tertiary institutions have adopted strategies to compel students to carry out research with little or no assistance.

First, lecturers restructure almost every proposed research topics submitted by their students. This is done in order to render useless any project work the students have in mind to do the usual ‘copy and paste’.

Second, some lecturers request for 10 to 20 copies of current academic research journals related to the students projects’ topics. This is done to encourage students to surf the internet and be familiar with scholars’ works related to the students’ area of study.

Third, some lecturers mandate students to submit their projects in handwritten form. It’s funny bah? Or do you think its wickedness? Haha, maybe it is, maybe it’s not. But it is done to make students to read their projects word for word, especially when lecturers are suspicious of students’ copy and paste syndrome.

Lecturers that is hell-bent on this strategy believe that ‘shebi you wan copy and paste, atleast you go suffer copy every every come give me ’.

Fourth, some lecturers request copies of the filled questionnaire from students as evident they truly went to the field. This strategy is geared towards ensuring that students went to the area of study and administered the questionnaire to the target respondents.

Fifth, students are requested to explain how they analyzed their data at the lecturers’ office, to ascertain if they actually carried it out or it was done by research consultants. The lecturers are of the view that; even though someone helped a student with the data analysis, the student should, atleast have a little idea on how it was analyzed as well as the interpretation of results.

Surprisingly, despite these strategies that look like effective checks and balances, trust students nah, they are having a filled day engaging in copy and paste.

After all, there are many ways to kill a rat

After giving this a thorough thought, I came to a conclusion that the root cause of most students’ inability to effectively carryout research is the poor curriculum duration of research method in tertiary institutions.

It is shocking to know that an important course like “Research Method” is a one semester course in most tertiary institutions. A course of this nature with five chapter outlines shouldn’t be a one semester showdown.

Example, lecturing students on how to; identify, frame and choose researchable project topics; write statement of the problem; show research objectives are related to research questions, hypotheses and literature review; review related literature to identify gap in literature; conduct statistical analysis with SPSS, Minitab, Eview etc. and interpret results.

With the limited time allotted to course-works in tertiary institutions, research lecturers find it difficult to cover the course outlines in research method.

As a result, research is thought like every other course without ample time for students to practice what they learnt theoretically. Hence, when they come face to face with the reality, they do all it takes to maneuver it.

The National University Commission and tertiary institutions should modify the curriculum duration of research method and make it a three semester course. This is vital in order to allow lecturers ample time to effectively educate students on research and enhance their capacity to acquire innovative, creative, critical and problem solving skills.

If the general goal of tertiary institutions is teaching and research, then what’s this fuss about research among undergraduates?

Photo Credit: Rido | Dreamstime.com

Richard Agu is a speaker and freelance writer passionate about entrepreneurship and Health. He co-owns two blogs that specializes on dishing out quality startup ideas and skin care tips. Get in touch with him for ghost writing, website content creation and other professional writing services.

17 Comments

  1. Mz smiles

    July 25, 2016 at 4:02 pm

    Hahaha.. .so true about the copy and paste part. Too many wrongs with our educational system.Most people copy because they don’t believe in themselves (in my opinion).We need to talk down less on kids and adults alike as such “minor” things end up with ripple effects.

    • Richard Agu

      July 25, 2016 at 7:25 pm

      yes oo, the copy and paste is alarming.

  2. Spirit

    July 25, 2016 at 4:19 pm

    Richard I do not not know the schools in Nigeria that teach “Research Methods” in a semester, it is not taught at all. All we did was we were given a topic by fire and by force, most likely a topic the lecturer is working on, asked to go through past projects, do analysis with software that even the lecturers do not know how to use and come up with results most times inconclusive. Research Method is practically non existent in Nigerian Institutions. I was lucky enough to do my masters in the US and learnt about plagiarism for the first time here, I looked at my Naija project copy and by all standards na wash. Proper Research method like you said is not a one semester thing, in fact it should run for semesters. The National University Commission and tertiary institutions should look into this Research Method and come up with ways to enable Nigerian graduates meet world standards, compete and stand greater chances of getting into Masters and PHD programs any where in the world.

    • Vee

      July 25, 2016 at 4:56 pm

      I did Research Methodology in my first semester 400 level, sm dept did theirs in 300 level….Delta state university. Which school did you attend? I think it’s an individual thing, maybe sm schools re at fault..can’t say for sure

    • Richard Agu

      July 25, 2016 at 7:33 pm

      Yeaaah, Research is thought in Nigerian Universities.

    • Spirit

      July 25, 2016 at 8:26 pm

      Vee we are saying the same thing, one semester is not enough for Research Methods.

    • Richard Agu

      July 25, 2016 at 7:29 pm

      Incredible, I am surprised to learn that you weren’t taught Research Method in school. It is thought in Nasarawa State university, Keffi, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Odimegwu Ojukwu University, Uli to mention a few. I concur with you on teaching Research Method through out the semester.

  3. A Real Nigerian

    July 25, 2016 at 4:19 pm

    This article is as bad as the poor attempts at research by Nigerian students.

  4. Cindy

    July 25, 2016 at 4:21 pm

    This article is on point. I don’t how they expect us to understand research methodology taught in one semester. One lecture a week, 13 weeks in a semester. 2 hours per lecture. Remove 3 weeks for exams and lecture free week. Lecturer misses 3 classes. 2 x 6 = 12 hours of research methodology and they expect us to understand. Shior!

  5. molarah

    July 25, 2016 at 4:58 pm

    Hahahaha. This is an interesting topic, and a quite humorous article. However, I don’t think the excuse that Research writing is taught in just one semester (some universities do not even teach it at all) is tenable. Let’s face it: it’s nothing but unadulterated laziness that will make a student seek out other alternatives rather than going out to do the hard research work themselves. It’s particularly stupid laziness if you ask me, because that part of the course work is supposed to help students build crucial skills (written communication, critical thinking, research, innovation, problem solving, analytical skills) that would improve their marketability after school. I guess universities need to do a better job of selling the need to engage in unique research to the students.

    • Richard Agu

      July 25, 2016 at 7:37 pm

      You are right. Part of the problem is laziness on the part of some students. But the root cause of the issue is the course duration

  6. U.E

    July 25, 2016 at 5:53 pm

    I was just telling my brother exactly the same thing last night. I am writing my masters dissertation somewhere in Europe. And I remembered I once had a research project in my final year in Nigeria. So, I went back and opened the pdf of the file. IT WAS FULL OF B.S.
    And to think that with that B.S, I got an A.

    I agree Nigerian tertiary institutions should take the Research Module more seriously and not just thought in one semester before the last semester of school like I did.

    • Richard Agu

      July 25, 2016 at 7:41 pm

      I guess the standard is way too high over there. You are right. I glanced at My B.Sc. work lately. I was surprised as you. Nigerian Universities should sit up.

  7. Eliza's English.

    July 25, 2016 at 10:27 pm

    Good topic for the article. Thank you.

    “”Filled day”.” Field day.

    “”Yeaaah, Research is thought in Nigerian Universities.””
    “”I am surprised to learn that you weren’t taught Research Method in school. It is thought in Nasarawa State university, “”

    To teach = taught (past tense)
    To think = thought (past tense)

    • Richard Agu

      July 26, 2016 at 9:13 am

      Nice observation. Thank you

  8. Kainene

    July 27, 2016 at 9:03 am

    Hello Richard. Please I need your help with a project topic…. Inmates and Staff Relationship In Nigeria Prisons.
    Any help or suggestions please? My email I’d is [email protected] Com.
    Thank you

    • Richard Agu

      July 27, 2016 at 6:25 pm

      Haha…. You can consult a project consultant for such. You do not need a project topic cos you already have one. “Inmates and staff relationship in Nigeria Prisons” is a good project topic cos it has both dependent and independent variable.

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