Comunica Investiga Lab

Notes from a researcher with no style: Start to get it wrong


Ojito: Before I start, I want to confess that I will take the opportunity to write these blog entries as an opportunity to remember those moments that in some way or another have marked my experience as a student and that I wish not to forget as time goes by. It is very likely that in a few years when I go back to read these entries I will feel that I should not have done it smiley face, but I will surely feel a lot of happiness for having matured, grown and learned from life. Oh, and I will try to be as informal and colloquial as possible -although I feel I will fail in the attempt-, because, being honest, don’t you get tired of always having to think of the best word to use to be “academically correct”?

Miyazaki, H. (Director). (2001). Spirited Away [Film]. Studio Ghibli.

Oscar-winning film director. There was no other option. That was the slogan that motivated my trip to Lima at the age of 17. Film director? If I’m honest, even I didn’t understand what a film director was at that age -and I don’t really know if I have it totally clear yet, sorry audiovisual friends-. However, a dream is a dream, but like everything in life, people evolve, interests change and dreams take new directions. That was the beginning of my journey as a university student and, without realizing it, my start in research.

Everyone has a favorite movie. Mine is Spirited Away by Hayao Miyazaki -please stop by Netflix or Cuevana if you haven’t seen it, I promise it will be worth it-. I must have seen it at least ten times. The first one when I was six years old in Spanish from Spain, and then in Spanish, Japanese and even in English so as not to lose the habit. I have always loved animation and it was obvious that my first approach to research was going to be through the seventh art.

And so it was. To contextualize, one of the last courses of General Studies Letters at PUCP is Academic Research. The interesting and beautiful thing was that the course gave you a range of possible approaches depending on the teacher you chose to address a unique and unparalleled research topic. I as a good communicator entered the schedule that worked with the Humanities approach sarcastic chuckle, which was a great choice for two reasons. The first one because I suspected from then on that communications was not my thing, but that’s a topic for another blog, and, the second one, because it was my big chance to see again how Chihiro’s parents turned into pigs for the eleventh time.

Fourteen, thirteen, eleven, and I even think I got a “jalado” in the course. Probably the worst grades I had -and have- gotten in college. However, I was happy to work on a subject on which I felt I was an expert. The title, yes, very pompous and surely the only coherent and correct thing about the work: A heroic journey through Chihiro’s psyche. Archetypal analysis of Spirited Away. Or, maybe I’m being too hard on myself, but in any case the course revealed that I had severe academic deficiencies in terms of research: difficulties in organizing and connecting my ideas, very superficial analytical skills, lack of knowledge about research methodology, among others. There will be time to tell how I was able to -and still am- working on it, but in this entry I wish to focus on just one of them: the blessed style.

“YOU HAVE NO STYLE FOR WRITING”. I felt it that way. As if with capital words my JP wrote with indelible pen on my forehead that comment after reviewing one of my previews. In fact that must have been one of the most traumatic comments I received during college. “But how can I improve?” I naively replied, knowing that the obvious answer – and indeed the one he replied to me – was “read more.” I remember leaving upset, angry, sad, blaming others for not understanding me. However, after a while, when I went back out of nostalgia to review my final paper, I understood and recognized that it was true. The progress I had made in the course had had serious writing deficiencies and it was something I had to improve. Nevertheless, I confess that from that moment on, in each of the texts I write, I keep asking myself if people will continue to think that I have no style in my writing. I hope not, but you will be the judge of that through this blog.

But life gives you surprises, life gives you surprises. You learn from falls, and surely I must have learned at least a little something to have the honor of sharing the direction of a research laboratory with a super capo team. Great responsibility for a high school graduate who is discovering the world, but also an opportunity to provide a different vision taking into account what students expect from spaces like this -I promise not to write with indelible ink my comments on other people-. Now I no longer dream of being a filmmaker, but of being accepted into some prestigious PhD program. I am no longer driven by film research, but I love to review other people’s research on films. I’m no longer afraid of being criticized for my writing, but I like to get feedback to correct my mistakes. Is this maturing? It probably is. And it wouldn’t have been possible without the decision to expose myself, to show my mistakes, but also my potential.

So, I learned two things with that traumatic experience in Letters. Firstly, that it is good to explore from our own interests what research is. We don’t need to tackle super complex issues that we can’t even manage to understand yet. The topics will come when life tells us that we are ready for them, when we have the tools, knowledge, resources and sufficient motivation. In Letras I knew that researching my favorite childhood movie was not going to stop global warming, but I did know that it would give me the peace of mind, joy and motivation I needed to embark on the journey. And secondly, that humility, intelligence and understanding when receiving feedback on our research is necessary not to take anything personally, but as fuel to improve and grow as researchers. Yes, at the beginning we will make mistakes and we may be told that our writing, methodology, authors are not the most appropriate, but it is in our court to improve every day and, consequently, to offer increasingly rigorous, innovative and relevant research.

Let’s go for more starts and mistakes!

Samuel Rivero
Miembro fundador

Esta insignia especial tiene el honor de ser entregada a lxs integrantes de la primera edición del Lab, quienes no solo evidenciaron rigurosidad académica durante el proceso de investigación, sino también valentía y perseverancia para aventurarse a ser parte de nuestra primera comunidad de investigadorxs. Quienes posean esta insignia tienen la oportunidad de incorporarae como parte del equipo organizador. Siempre serán bienvenidxs y recordadxs por toda la comunidad de Comunica Investiga Lab.

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