Until October 15, students are invited to submit their papers to the Student Research Paper Competition. We talked to Ivan Gruzdev and Andrey Kozhanov about why academic careers are cool, and why one should participate in the competition.
What is the main idea behind the Student Research Paper (SRP) Competition?
Ivan: In his recent address to the students, the Rector said: ‘We do not imitate anything, and we teach our students to do the same.’
I believe that most students follow this principle in their term papers and theses, and that they invest themselves in their research. They collect interesting data, present new interpretations, and, to varying degrees, make discoveries.
Such effort deserves acknowledgement, so I believe that the main idea behind the competition is to award the students who have invested significant time and effort in their research and achieved particularly outstanding results. At the same time, this acknowledgement is a sort of advance payment, an incentive to continue their research work.
Andrey: This is a talent competition for young researchers. The competition is strictly academic: only the text matters here! It is open to students and graduates of any university. The procedure ensures objectivity and uniform assessment of all submissions. There is no positive or negative bias towards local research teams or topics.
Can you describe the competition participants in three words?
Andrey: One of us.
Ivan: Two words will be enough: ‘incredibly diverse’! Take a look at the last year’s award ceremony footage made by students from STUDLIFE. The participants represent different research fields, different ages, and each of them was unique. Probably the only thing that they all had in common was that they were really smart.
How can students benefit from participating in the competition?
Andrey: Applicants have nothing to lose: participation is free; all they have to do is to prepare and submit a research text. In return, they are motivated by feedback after the competition, an opportunity to have their texts evaluated professionally and without bias, as well as a chance to win and receive some bonuses.
Still, we have to remember that, according to science sociology studies, the leading incentive in academia has been the need to be acknowledged by colleagues, by one’s peer group, which is a source of reputation and authority in the narrow research field.
What should I pay attention to when formalizing my paper?
Ivan: See the instructions on how to submit the paper on the competition website. Take some time before submitting and read the instructions carefully. I can only add that the ability to follow formal requirements of this kind is an important skill for academia, which will be useful when you submit a paper to an international academic journal or apply for a grant.
HSE University students write lots of term papers every year and publish their research. What prevents most of them from submitting to SRP Competition?
Ivan: This may be due to two problems. The first is a lack of awareness of the competition. The second is that some students are too modest when they assess their own papers and their chances of success.
This year, we are using all kinds of possible channels to inform students about the competition. I hope this helps decrease the number of people who don’t know about it.
Speaking of modesty, I can only remind everyone of a saying: it’s better to regret doing something than to not do it at all.
Andrey: I think what prevents students from applying is the lack of proactivity. It is not uncommon that successful students only follow their supervisors’ advice and do not take any initiative until they are clearly told to do something.
As a result, only a few students actively participate in competitions within the university, while the majority of students simply look on and then find excuses such as a lack of information or other ‘insurmountable catastrophes’ that prevented them from participating.
At the same time, the number of participants from other Russian and even international universities is growing. We, for our part, do our best to make participation easy. We actively work with student media, improve the competition website, and develop its partnership network.
When someone submits their paper, it passes through the Anti-Plagiarism system. What if someone applies with a term paper or thesis that is already in the system?
Ivan: Don’t worry. If you use parts of your own text in your paper, which has been part of your term paper or thesis, we will see this.
We check papers for plagiarism with only one aim, which is to detect and avoid cases of academic fraud, which includes borrowing other people’s ideas and texts and passing them off as your own.
What paper would you yourself use to apply for the competition?
Andrey: I would present my most recent text, under the conditions that it was presentable and I was satisfied with it. The topic doesn’t play a major role in assessment, since not the topic is assessed, but rather the method and quality of its development in a specific study.
When you were a student, what did you find attractive about an academic career?
Ivan: I recently participated in recording a Health and Safety course for freshmen, where I talked about the advantages of getting engaged in research while studying at HSE University. I can only repeat something I’ve already mentioned there.
An academic career is more about ‘doing something new’ than ‘reproducing something that already exists’. This is always attractive and sets research work apart from other kinds of work.
In addition, in the sphere of scholarship and research, you have complete freedom. New ideas and intellectual curiosity are more important than the ability to follow instructions and a dress code.
Andrey: Obviously, the advantage of an academic career over many other kinds of careers is the opportunity to go to sleep and wake up when you want, not when your employer tells you to. This reasoning becomes clearer as you get older.
But in all seriousness, you can earn a living doing what you enjoy: solving intellectual problems, talking to interesting people, and continuous self-development in order to fill your educational appetite.