Cum laude?

Kali ini saya mau berbagi pengalaman menghadiri sidang seorang kandidat PhD.  Sidangnya berjalan sangat baik, bahkan lebih baik dari yang pernah saya hadiri sebelumnya.   Si kandidat, teman saya sesama PhD di Donders Institute, telah berhasil menyelesaikan 2 artikel studi behavioral, 2 artikel studi fMRI, dan 2 artikel tinjauan teoretik mengenai teorisasi/modeling dan studi empirik pemrosesan konseptual dan perseptual dalam upaya individu memahami perilaku orang lain.   Semua studi dipresentasikan dengan luwes dan cerdas dan dipublikasikan dalam jurnal dengan impact factor tinggi.  Pada saat sesi tanya-jawab, semua pertanyaan dijawab dengan penjelasan yang sarat dengan wawasan baru baik secara filosofis maupun empirik eksperimental.  Para penguji yang berasal dari Oxford University, University College London (Britania Raya) dan University of Trento (Italia) pun memuji-muji kualitas analisis dan teori sang kandidat PhD ini.

Terkagum-kagum, saya pun bertanya-tanya: Akankah dia jadi cum laude?  Saya yang penasaran lalu bertanya pada seorang teman yang ikut hadir bersama saya di sidang itu.  Menurut teman saya, predikat cum laude menurut standard Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour – bukan standard Radboud University Nijmegen – hanya dianugerahkan pada seorang PhD, apabila ia berhasil mempublikasikan banyak artikel (bukan presentasi dalam konferensi) dalam jurnal dengan impact factor tinggi.  Okay, saya mengangguk-angguk.  Tapi berapa banyak artikel yang harus dihasilkan?  Enam?  Delapan?  Teman saya menggeleng-gelengkan kepalanya.  Ternyata untuk mendapatkan predikat cum laude dari Donders Institute, seorang PhD harus menghasilkan minimum 12 artikel jurnal.  Mendengar ini, saya hanya bisa melongo sementara teman saya menjelaskan lebih lanjut bahwa ternyata sudah pernah ada anak PhD di Donders Institute yang berhasil mencapai predikat cum laude dengan jumlah artikel sekitar 25 buah!   *Hening di alam mental saya*  Sekitar sedetik kemudian saya kembali ke alam sadar dan hanya bisa tersenyum kecut.  Pantas saja, hampir tidak ada PhD Donders Institute yang lulus dengan predikat cum laude.  :-P  :-D

Research: Individual or group outcomes?

Is research a lonely, individual enterprise or is it a group enterprise?  Logically, it is both as you always need other people whom you can get more knowledge or discuss with while working on an individual research project.   For me, the research evaluation process usually gives an insight to empirically answer such question.  Every 4 years, an external committee that comprises of 9 (nine) highly respected researchers in Neuroscience world community, comes to Donders Institute to evaluate the quality of achievements that the institute has already shown throughout the years.  At some points of the evaluation process, the external committee will be asked to attend presentation events delivered by each of our Principal Investigators and to visit each of the research centers that comprise the whole Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour.  These research centers are Donders Centre for Cognition, Donders Centre for Cognitive Neuroimaging, and Donders Centre for Neuroscience.  In total, there are 400 researchers working at the institute.  They come from around 35 countries all over the world and their projects in Neuroscience range from molecule to behavioral level, from studying epilepsy in rats to neuroplasticity, perception and language processing in special/clinical populations.  So, it’s sorta big deal for a 2-day evaluation visit! 

However, this evaluation process can be exciting for a PhD like me.  First of all, some of the committee members are famous neuroscience celebrity such as Dr. Michael Gazzaniga, Dr. Paul Matthews, and Dr. Kia Nobre.  Secondly, this is the special time for a PhD researcher to do direct within-group observation, comparison and evaluation regarding the average quality of your colleagues as members of a bigger research sub-group as a group achievement is driven by excellent work of the group members, NOT merely by that of the principal investigator aka advisor aka professor.  A similar comparison can also be carried out in a between-sub-group perspective such that you compare the strength differences among sub-groups within a research center (the one that you work for at the moment, of course).  The sub-groups might be linked to each other as they (apparently) work within the same research theme/scope but they use slightly different approaches or techniques in the imaging analysis.  By doing all of this, I hope to find which part is interesting to be worked jointly in our center or just plainly observe what is better on other groups’ performance to learn new things that might be important to be worked on in my own group in the coming year.  As a PhD, it is a privilege to have the opportunity to judge and calibrate where and when I should better perform in order to overcome insufficient results.  This means during a certain period, I should be able to learn whether better planning, more efficient communication and discussions, etc are necessary.  Taking the right action following all of these insights is another step of becoming a researcher, in my heartily opinion.

For a quite big research institute such as Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour, a comprehensive evaluation system (which includes an external committee) can help its researchers as group members and individuals, to improve their performance and to increase the scope of their research enterprise.   Finally, the group performance in the end strongly indicates the scope and quality of our individual research and therefore it might be more realistic to think of research as collaboration and teamwork, not merely a lonely project.

Database Psikolinguistik Bahasa Indonesia untuk partisipasi umum

Link survei internet Bahasa Indonesia

Bagi para pembicara Bahasa Indonesia, silakan berpartisipasi dalam on-line survey kami.  On-line survey ini akan dikembangkan sebagai database Bahasa Indonesia demi menunjang riset-riset eksperimental mengenai berbagai aspek pemrosesan bahasa, yang juga terkait dengan perilaku, otak dan pikiran.   Bila anda juga pembicara salah satu/beberapa bahasa lokal di Indonesia, atau menguasai bahasa lainnya sejak usia dini, anda tetap bisa berpartisipasi dalam survey ini.  Silakan memulai dengan meng-klik link di atas.


Welcome to my blog! The blog is intended to be a virtual room for my catharsis or soliloquy while catching up with what’s been going on in cognitive and affective neuroscience fields nowadays. However, I’d love to share some of my thoughts with you and any comments on them are heartily welcome.  Speaking about cognitive neuroscience, my scientific interests basically lie in the broader areas of cognitive science, concepts/knowledge representation, psycholinguistics, lexical-semantics, conceptual processing and emotional language processing in bi-/multilinguals.  In the year of 2011, I started working on my PhD at Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition, and Behaviour (Donders Centre for Cognition) at Radboud University Nijmegen, Netherlands, focusing on the neural correlates of various aspects of emotional L2 processing.  In addition to working on some experimental studies on bilingual language processing in Indo-European speakers, I also want to contribute to the people of my country and motherland, Indonesia, by constructing some psycholinguistic measures of Bahasa Indonesia.  These measures are intended to be the basis of a comprehensive psycholinguistic database of Bahasa Indonesia.  If you are an Indonesian speaker and willing to participate in the survey, please search for INDANEW/ on my website.