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Archive for December, 2008

Qualitative Research 1/14

It was an experience I would remember for the rest of my life.

My life as a second semester PhD student officially started on Wednesday, 24 December 2008 when I attended my class on Qualitative Research.  

The first thing we had to do at the start of the class was to write twenty sentences on what we think Qualitative Research is. I seriously panicked. I learnt what Qualitative Research is all about in the previous class but the memory seem to just disappear at that very moment.  

Nevertheless, I wrote down a few sentences (the lecturer finally settled on 10 because we were struggling to even get 5 down!) 

I had this in mind: Qualitative Research is a difficult method to do research, but is as important as quantitative research. There are two main techniques of conducting qualitative research: interviews or focus group interviews. In a focus group interview, a group of people will sit together to discuss the research topic while the researcher observes their behavior. It will involve a lot of resources because one needs a good voice recorder for a start, an excellent software to capture the important keywords discussed and obviously, a lot of money to pay the participants. 

But what I had in mind would not necessarily appear on my sheet of paper, but nevertheless, I tried. 

Anyway, my research is related to Corporate Culture and from my preliminary reading, this type of research would involve a mixture of qualitative and quantitative methods. I am beginning to feel uncomfortable when I finally discovered that most lecturers at my faculty prefer quantitative research rather than qualitative, and that includes my own supervisor! Funny, he never mentioned it during our meetings. I can almost imagine myself being bombarded with the most difficult questions during my defense proposal – and I don’t even want to imagine what my viva would be like! 

Anyway, I learnt, or am reminded, of a number of important things in this first class: 

1.    Research is about finding something. I remember one of my colleagues mentioning about research being another search (i.e. the word re-search or re-find!). What a researcher needs to find is ‘that something’ that would make an addition to the existing body of knowledge.  

2.    Why do we conduct research? Because, there is a gap in the current literature that has to be filled. And this gap, it can be filled by either qualitative or quantitative research. What is important is that one must know what the purpose of the study is.  

Interestingly, while we were in class trying to figure out what to write on the “Twenty Sentences” activity, the lecturer actually asked us to stop writing and walk out of the room to observe your environment. I actually managed to spot two female students walking along the corridor wearing a similar colored tudung J! But the point that the lecturer was trying to make was that you must know what the purpose of the study is.  

I would like to note that this point actually applies in our daily life. As a Muslim, one must know what the purpose in life is, i.e. to be a khalifah of Allah, and eventually, we will all return to our Creator and thereafter, questioned! That would definitely be worse than a viva! 

3.    In your research, the literature review is the extremely important, if not fundamental. It is the literature review that would actually provide the foundation for your study. And when we were asked when the literature review will end – no one could provide the answer. Obviously, it would only end on the day you will have your viva! Keeping updated with the literature would ensure that you can answer the killer questions during the viva and of course, it would keep you abreast with the latest issues and findings on the research topic.

I have another thirteen classes, four major assignments (which includes this blog entry!), more than thirty articles to read and the rest of my life as a PhD student to learn, re-learn and un-learn what Qualitative Research is all about.

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The organization where I work held a Family Day yesterday. 

This year’s Family Day themed “Let’s Have Fun” was held at Felda Residence Hot Springs Sungai Klah, which is about 100 km from Ipoh. We left home at about 7.15 a.m., stopped at Tapah to refuel the tank and reached FRHS at about 8.30 a.m. The staff and their families were divided into four groups and we had games, performances, quizzes and lots and lots of food. We even had lucky draws! I won an Ogawa Slimming Belt – but my husband had a big laugh and he said to me, “Kalau tak kurus lepas 3 bulan ni, jual aje lah benda ini.” Oops! 

Anyway, the kids had a lot of fun in the pool. The only regret I had was that there were so many activities that we wanted to do, but time was so limited. We have made plans to come back to FHRS for our next break, insya Allah. 

For more information on FHRS, you can visit their website here. (I forgot the CAMERA!) 

The Family Day ended at about 5.00 p.m. 

Meanwhile, it is again, THAT time of the year. 

Coincidentally, this year’s Ma’al Hijrah and New Year are only four days apart. 

It is the time to look back at what I have achieved for the past one year, and thank Allah for them. 

It is the time to ponder on what I have failed to achieve and the lessons I learnt from my failures, and also thank Allah for them. 

It is the time to make new resolutions and plan on what I need to accomplish for this coming year, and then, leave them to Allah for Allah is always the best planner.  

Salam Ma’al Hijrah and Happy New Year. May the coming year be a more fruitful and meaningful year for everyone, insya Allah.

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There are times when I wonder why certain things happen in a certain way. 

For example, you had Plan A in place. Everything seems to be going well. It doesn’t look as if any obstacle is going to disrupt the plan. You can almost see what the end looks like. And you start imagining that you will complete Plan A in no time. Yes, it will be successful. And then you start to feel proud of yourself that you managed to do it just the way it was planned. 

But suddenly, at the very last minute, circumstances change. And you cannot help but feel frustrated about the whole thing. You start to ask, What went wrong? Why am I tested this way by Him? Did I do something wrong that Allah is punishing me for it now? 

Astaghfirullahalaziim.  

I am reminded of a very nice article from Ustaz Hasrizal @ Saifulislam.com. It was entitled “Kamu Sentiasa Layak Diuji”.

Yes, in any given circumstances, a human being is still the creation of Allah. We are all servants of the AlMighty. He created us and He can do as He pleases. And as Allah’s servant, we cannot or should not question why things happen in a certain way.  

And if things turn out not the way you want it to be, try to feel good about it. He knows what is best and what is not.  

I must try to stop questioning why things don’t go the way I want it to be. 

May Allah forgive me.

... surrender to the will of Allah ...

... surrender to the will of Allah ...

“And whosoever fears Allah and keeps his duty to Him, He will make a way for him to get out from every difficulty. And He will provide Him from sources he never could imagine. And whoever puts trust in Allah, then He will suffice him. Verily, Allah will accomplish his purpose. Indeed, Allah has set a measure for all things.” (At-Talaq: 2-3)

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Staying at home on a Saturday

I spent the whole day at home yesterday with the kids since Abang had to work, and that hasn’t happened in a very long, long time.

 

I even watched Mawi’s aqad nikah to Ekin on Astro 106 – and I have to admit, it was quite touching especially towards the end when all I could hear was Ekin’s sobbing. And Mawi, well… he is still as charming as ever!

 

Anyway, I received an email from a friend who has asked me to do the following:

1.       Grab the nearest book to you NOW

2.       Go to page 56 of the book

3.       Find the fifth sentence on page 56

4.       Write that sentence down

 

When I got that email, I had 3 books in front of me. Two are academic books that I am currently reading for my PhD entitled Cultures in Organization and Managing Corporate Culture, Innovation & Intrapreneurship (read: Boring) and the other one is Sophie Kinsella’s Remember Me. And of course, the sentence from the book I chose read this:

 

”I’m twenty-eight, I have perfect white teeth, a Louis Vuitton bag, a card saying ‘Director’ and a husband.”

 

I do that quite often actually – putting books that I must read together with another book that I cannot stop reading on my study table. If I get so tired reading the must-read books, I turn to the other one which is of course, more interesting and does not make me stressed!

 

Meanwhile, I had fun reading Remember Me, which I finally completed yesterday night… although I still have a lot more to read from the other two books.

 

Remember Me is a story about Lexi who suffers from amnesia after a car accident. Ironically, she did not lose her entire memory, but only the past three years of her memory. So she woke up after the crash as a totally different person from what she remembered – from being single to being married, from using cheap handbags to a Louis Vuitton and from a sales executive to a Director of Sales. It is a very enjoyable read, and I would recommend it to anyone who needs a good laugh after a hard day.

 

 

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Another Business Trip to Penang

This is my second time in Penang within a period of one month.

 

I was here just 3 weeks ago on a job assignment, and I am here, again, on another job assignment for two days and have been here since yesterday. Again, I brought the kids along with my parents since Abang couldn’t get his leave approved (I think the auditors are here this week – Good Luck Abang!).

 

Anyway, I just love this island (who doesn’t?). Besides the great food (don’t we all love the assam laksa??) and the many attractive tourist spots around, Penang is also a famous place for shopping – especially the Batu Ferringhi night market, which I wanted to go last night but it rained so heavily that we decided to stay at the hotel. Penang is also one of the states controlled by Pakatan Rakyat with Mr. Lim Guan Eng as the Chief Minister.

 

This time around, we are staying at Gurney Hotel and Residences, which is located along Penang’s popular Gurney Drive. The rooms are quite run-down – but that is quite tolerable considering the fact that the hotel is right in front of the sea with a superb view from the room. Additionally, they have a Recreation Park on the seventh floor, which is a very, very minuscule version of Sunway’s Lost World of Tambun. And of course, the kids just love it!

 

penang

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Problems with Blogger?

I have been trying so many times to post a comment on a dear friend’s blog to wish her Happy Birthday and Happy Anniversary. But I think there are problems with either Blogger or WordPress because I can’t seem to do it. Anyway, to My Dearests (I hope this didn’t come too late),

 

Sis,

Happy belated birthday and may you have a better and blessed year ahead.

 

And to you and your husband,

Happy belated anniversary.

May you fall in love with each other more and more each day for the rest of your life!

 

Meanwhile, Mr Blogger or Mr WordPress, whoever is causing the problem, PLEASE, solve it!

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Stay close to Allah!

Abu Hurayra reported from the Prophet s.a.w. that Allah says:

 

“I am as My servant believes Me to be; I am with him when he remembers Me. If he remembers Me in his solitude, I remember him in my solitude. If he remembers Me in the midst of people, I remember him in the midst of better people. If he moves towards Me as much as a handspan, I shall move towards him an arm’s length. If he moves towards Me an arms’ length, I move towards him two arm’s length. If he comes to Me walking, I run towards him.”

[Bukhari]

 

I love this Hadith Qudsi. This is such a famous hadith that I cannot even remember when I first heard it. It must have been when I was much younger. But, I cannot help but remember the first time I really took note of the content. It was in my room at Lantana Street, Clayton in 1996. Why do I remember it so badly? Because I was in distress at that time, facing so many difficulties and I didn’t know what to do. And this hadith gave me the strength I needed most.

 

I should take note of this content more often, and not only when I am faced with difficulties.

 

Life is short. Make the best out of it. Stay close to Allah!

 

..taken during my trip to Kuala Terengganu, March 2008..
..taken during my trip to Kuala Terengganu, March 2008..

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