Dr Eden Sum-hung Li
Assistant Professor,
School of Arts and
Social Sciences

Interview with Dr Eden Sum-hung Li

In this issue, Dr Eden Sum-hung Li, Assistant Professor in the School of Arts and Social Sciences, shares his experiences and advice on developing a strong research grant proposal. Dr Li’s research proposal — entitled ‘Political discourses in Hong Kong: A systemic functional perspective’ — was awarded a grant by the Research Grants Council’s Faculty Development Scheme. As an academic with expertise in linguistics, Dr Li enriched the expertise of his research team by bringing together other experts in politics and corpus-based approaches to study as co-investigators to conduct the proposed study, which would be one of the factors leading to the success of his proposal.

Dr Li’s study stems from a pilot study funded by the University’s research and development fund. Through the pilot study, Dr Li had a good grasp of the potential difficulties when conducting the proposed study on a larger scale. ‘This made it easier for me to convince reviewers that the project was feasible’. Through the pilot study, Dr Li conducted a comprehensive literature review. He commented that a solid and substantial literature review was one of the most important factors leading to the success of his proposal. ‘Through reviewing the literature, you get a clearer picture of the current progress in the field, and the position of your proposed study. You can then explain better to reviewers why your project is worth conducting.’

Another tip he would like to share with colleagues is to send the proposals to academics in the same field for comment, and make revisions accordingly. This allows colleagues to address beforehand any concerns the reviewers might have on their proposals. ‘In the end, your proposal will be assessed by the reviewers, and you need to know what they are thinking.’

Any colleague who is acquainted with Dr Li knows that he is very active in research and has many publications. One may be curious about the secret behind his research productivity. For Dr Li, the recipe for success is diligence. He has developed a regular research schedule after office hours. ‘I divide my time roughly into three blocks — the first two blocks, which are within office hours, are devoted to teaching and administrative tasks; and the third one is for research.’

Like some of his colleagues, Dr Li often struggles between teaching and research, but he still finds it enjoyable to conduct research at the OUHK. He thinks that he has been given flexibility and freedom to engage in research which interests him. ‘While the University encourages us to be active in scholarly work, we are not confined to focusing on producing high-impact publications. As a result, I can explore a range of topics and publish them in various types of publications. I am now conducting research on translation, language attitude, Cantonese and political discourse. I am also planning to publish three books!’

Lastly, he suggested that colleagues, especially junior academics, should stay active in scholarly activities, so that they can keep up the momentum to continue doing research.



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