Wednesday, 16 May 2007


Setting: Meeting room of Raffles Museum, complete with big square table and blue chairs.

People involved: Mr Siva (interviewer), Daniel (interviewee), Ruoyu and I (interns scribbling on notebooks invisible to the rest of the people)

Background info: Daniel is doing his honours thesis and he needs to come up with a topic. He has been presented with 3 by Prof Peter Ng (I didn't really catch the 3 topics, there's one on invasiveness of erm... armoured sucker catfish, one on dwarfsnakeheads and i dunno about the last...), and Mr Siva is attempting to breakdown the 3 topics (talk about pros and cons and what they will involve) in this interview.

What we learnt:
1) The general process of working on an honours thesis. First the student needs to find a lecturer to act as a supervisor. These lecturers usually have a limit as to how many students they can supervise. The lecturer will then propose a few topics out of which the student chooses one. He will have to read up to decide on which topic. Then he needs to come up with a central question in the thesis. This can be achieved by doing more readup! After that, the fieldwork, experimentation and write-up will fall into place naturally. Therefore the central question is very important in providing the focus of the thesis.

2) Considerations that should be made: The distribution of the species in question (whether it is easily found.). The status of the species (is it endangered? endangered creatures cannot be captured or experimented on). The habits (is it nocturnal? fieldtrips for specimen collection will have to be conducted at night if they are). Etc etc.

3) The aim of writing an honours thesis should be to specialise, such that the student eventually surpasses his supervisor with regards to knowledge of that particular area that his honours thesis is about. This is important so that scientific research and knowledge always proceeds forward, generation after generation...

4) Biodiversity papers, including old honours thesis, are evergreen. That means if someone is doing research on a particular species now, he can refer to papers written several decades back if they are about the same species. Quoted from Mr Siva directly: the animal doesn't change.

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