March 2015____
Vol. 1, Issue no.1____

Professor Yu-lok Chiu

Interview with Professor Yu-lok Chiu A sharing of his research experience

Professor Yu-lok Chiu of the School of Arts and Social Sciences is one of the successful applicants for funding of the Faculty Development Scheme (FDS) in the year 2014. Professor Chiu has expertise in Chinese Language and Literature, Chinese History, China Studies and Humanities. Graduated from the Chinese University of Hong Kong and obtained his Doctor of Letters from the Kyoto University, Professor Chiu has developed not only a local, but also a global view towards his research fields.

Professor Chiu successfully obtained funding for his FDS project, titled “Modern South-coming Intellectual’s Impression of Hong Kong and Their Nationalist Awareness”. It aims to elaborate the close relationship between the modern Chinese intellectuals who came to Hong Kong from China and their sense of national identity. He pointed out that state building and regional concerns are two constructs that shape and reinforce each other. Ideas stemmed from a regional context could influence one’s perception towards the state. The cultural views, activities and contributions of intellectuals, having substantial influence on society nowadays, are valuable insights to researchers.

Professor Chiu also shared his experience in building up his research track records. He focused on case studies in his early research. On this foundation, he gradually expanded his scope of research into regional and national studies. He suggested that researchers could progress from dots to lines, which would then develop into a surface. This is the way he has built up his track records, in which each piece of research is relevant to and would enrich one another. The research of Professor Chiu has led to a considerable number of publications. For instance, he published two books in 2006 (Cultural China: The Intellectual’s Thought and Social Life in Modern and Contemporary Periods) and 2014 (State Building and Regional Concerns: Cultural Views of Chinese Intellectuals in Modern China), respectively, as well as journal articles on related topics. Professor Chiu commented that many academics, when writing proposals, get stuck in the part asking for their previous relevant research work and representative publications. He emphasised the importance of one’s publication records, which could convince the reviewer of, or dissuade he or she from believing, the Principal Investigator’s ability to carry out a proposed project.

For developing a well-grounded research proposal, Professor Chiu shared his strategy which is to identify research trends in the field, draw on the strengths of others’ studies and make up for their weaknesses. He starts the design of a research study by defining the subjects, sample size and length of time the research should take. He also attempts to introduce innovative elements into research by forming theories that can be applied in a Chinese cultural setting, balancing them with those mostly used in the Western context. As refuting arguments can be as valuable as supporting evidence, viewpoints adopted and findings presented in the proposal should be objective and balanced. One may criticise both conservative and radical stances instead of supporting a particular one. Professor Chiu also mentioned that one’s research should not be too unusual or others would find it difficult to understand and to accept it.

Although the process of conducting research is challenging, the impactful outcomes have been great motivations to Professor Chiu. He holds that doing research is like giving birth to a baby, in which ideas are transformed into concrete outputs. It is not about fulfilling a job requirement; it is about personal interest and satisfaction.

He suggested that junior academics could set yearly targets to ensure their research productivity. He does not encourage inexperienced academics to conduct large-scale research in their initial attempts; or venture on topics irrelevant to previous research. They may start with small projects that could enrich one another so as to build up a systematic track record.