Thursday, 20 June 2013

Problems, Issues and Challenges

What do we often encounter not only in life but in grad school as well? That has to be - problems! If you are in grad school, you are probably old enough to know that life is full of problems. For us (grad students), I guess most of the problems come from our research. So, to help you lighten up a bit, I want to share with you this comic strip.

The main theme of this comic is the choice of word. When I first read this comic, I find it quite funny and I could immediately relate to some of the situations where I did choose words to better reflect my work. Often, choice of word is pretty important in grad school.

Putting that aside, I find the following three words interesting - problems, issues and challenges. The word 'problem' is often viewed to have negative impact. For example, I have problems with my data. 'Issue' is probably more neutral. When you say 'I have some issues with my data' (as opposed to problems), it sounds slightly better. Then, you have the positive version of the two - 'challenge'. Of course, you will never say 'I face challenges with my data', because it sounds weird and positive. But, when you say 'this problem is challenging' as oppose to 'this problem is problematic', the first one definitely sounds like you can still solve it (or at least you sound like you want to solve it badly).

The lesson to be learned here is try to use the word 'challenge' more often in your writing as oppose to 'problem'. It sounds more positive. I hope you enjoyed the comic strip too!

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