Sunday, January 22, 2017

My academic research projects

- By Deepa Krishnan

These days I am enjoying my forays into academic research. 

Economic Times
The first research project  I did was on the impact of demonetization on families living in slums. It got significant coverage in the Economic Times, trending as Top News on their website. It was also in the Top 10 daily list among the articles on the Social Science Research Network (SSRN). For a rookie researcher, this is very encouraging!

The second research project (group photo below) is about the economic rationale for giving legal title to slum families. In this photo, you can see our field researchers are being trained in how to collect data. They are college students, who live in low-income/slum neighbourhoods; so they have access to the types of families we want to interviw.
Students who live in different wards of Mumbai
These research projects are part of my  "Earn while you Learn" scheme for students. Data collection doesn't interfere with college lectures, and is the ideal flexi-time income opportunity. 

I hope to complete data collection by January; and then hopefully we will produce some sort of draft academic paper by April.

Why have I suddenly embarked on this type of work? 

I think it's because every ten years or so, I feel the need to reinvent myself. I want to learn new skills, add new capabilities to my repertoire. From my mother, I have inherited the restless yearning for new frontiers. We are nomads, she and I, we like the new and the unexplored. 

Also, research appeals to the curious child in me. It is important for me to see the world through a child's open frank lens. Without that, I would atrophy and die, like a tree that has rotted. At SPJIMR, where I teach, I attended a workshop on doing research. When they asked participants about why each person there should do research, I answered "for the sheer thrill of it". I think we should only do things that excite us. The chase for the truth, for that kernel of insight and revelation, is at the heart of all research. 

But I'm not interested in abstract research. "Knowledge for knowledge's sake" doesn't really excite me. I would like to do research that can influence policy. Watch this space :)
Staff from Abhyudaya explaining how to fill the form
After the work, the eating :) Our local shop made hot samosas for us

No comments: