My Fulbright Year in the Oregon State University

Written by  Thursday, 21 January 2016 16:13

     First of all, I would like to express my gratitude and appreciation to the Fulbright Program for offering me the generous research grant to conduct a joint research program with Professor Jimmy Yang at Oregon State University (OSU). Not only did this unique opportunity advance my professional knowledge and research skills, it also allowed me to experience U.S. life and culture in a deeper way. This article briefly describes my research as well as cultural experiences during my stay as a Fulbright Visiting Scholar at OSU.

 

 

Research Experience

     Prof. Yang joined the Oregon State University faculty in 2003 and established a good reputation by publishing research papers in mainstream finance journals. Prof. Yang comes from Taiwan and keeps a close connection with Taiwanese scholars in the finance field. I came to know Prof. Yang when he attended a conference held by my department at National Taiwan University. At that time, I proposed to work with him to implement a research project at OSU in the hope of further improving my expertise, knowledge, and research skills. Prof. Yang not only agreed with my proposal, but also encouraged me to do so. I kept this in mind and ultimately came up with a research idea in which Prof. Yang was also interested. Fortunately, I got the research grant from the Fulbright Scholar Program as a visiting scholar in 2014.

 

     When I first visited OSU, Prof. Yang introduced his colleagues to me and gave me a tour of the College of Business, the William Jasper Ker library, and the Linus Pauling Institute. The Linus Pauling Institute was founded in 1973 in Menlo Park, California by Linus Pauling, who is an alumnus of OSU and received two Nobel Prizes, one in Chemistry and one for Peace. It relocated to OSU in 1996 after Linus Paulingpassed away. I was very impressed by the beautiful campus and majestic football stadium.

 

     In the fall of 2014, the College of Business moved to a new building: Austin Hall. This new building is equipped with a spacious auditorium, collaborative team rooms, many faculty offices, staff and program offices, a café, and event space. I believe that the faculty can immerse themselves in doing research, and students can study in a good environment. Moreover, I found that the college provides ample resources and strong support to facilitate the faculty’s research.

 

     During my Fulbright grant, I and Prof. Yang spent time discussing how to execute our joint research project before we really proceeded with it. Prof. Yang told me that he verifies every process associated with the research project, including the development of the idea, review of the literature, establishment of the hypotheses, detail of the data, and so on, before taking the next step. His attitude toward doing research is quite different from mine. Indeed, I have been bothered by a few annoying experiences when some research projects were not carefully implemented at the early stage and eventually needed to be done again. As an old adage says, “Haste makes waste.” I found, however, that following Prof. Yang’s prudent attitude could be a good way to avoid this problem.

 

     When our research project came up with some empirical results, Prof. Yang reminded me repeatedly that we should keep rational skepticism with the results since we may have done something wrong unconsciously. Under this rationale, we had carefully scrutinized what we had done and did identify some careless mistakes. This allowed us to correct them before we moved on and therefore kept ourselves from accumulating many small mistakes. In the past, I tended to feel good whenever I made some progress on a project, especially when the yielded results were consistent with my expectation. But I made this kind of mistake due to self-satisfaction. The second important thing that I learned from Prof. Yang was that we shall always challenge ourselves at every step of the research process in order to uncover mistakes before they become too difficult to correct easily.

 

     Finally, Prof. Yang also kindly warned me of a key point of successful paper submission. That is, don’t rush to submit the paper to the journal once you finish it. The reason is that the paper is likely to be rejected if you do not make its quality good enough. Rejection leads to the revision of the paper and therefore, in turn, is more time consuming. As such, he emphasized that we should think about how to increase the possibility of paper acceptance rather than how to submit the paper promptly. To significantly improve the quality of the paper, most scholars would attempt to elicit suggestive and insightful comments from various sources such as conference presentations and invited seminar talks. In addition to this, Prof. Yang specifically suggested that it would be quite helpful if you can obtain comments from scholars who have well-known reputations in the specific fields since they are likely to be the reviewers of your submitted paper. If you can acquire and incorporate their comments into the paper, then they would give a more positive response when they review the paper for a journal. This would increase the likelihood of your paper being accepted eventually. To be honest, I had never tried this before.

 

 

Cultural Experience

     I would also like to mention one part of the administrative culture in U.S. colleges that I appreciated greatly. That is, U.S. scholars do not have to undertake many administrative jobs and attend various meetings, and therefore, are able to concentrate their time on doing research. In comparison to U.S. scholars, Taiwanese scholars are involved more in administrative jobs and meetings due to traditional bureaucratic culture. Consequently, the amount of time available for Taiwanese scholars to do research is substantially reduced. I sincerely suggest that our school administrators should think about how to reduce the faculty’s burden on administrative jobs without reducing the efficiency of administrative operation.

 

     As everyone may know, watching professional sports, such as NBA, MLB, and NFL, is a popular leisure activity in the U.S. But what surprised me was that watching college sport games is also an important one. For example, “The Civil War” is a game between rivals the University of Oregon Ducks and the Oregon State University Beavers, and it always attracts Oregonians’ attention. The Ducks played fantastically well in 2014, while the Beavers were not as competitive. Even so, OSU faculty and students still gave strong support for their Beavers. Prof. Yang had invited me to attend a football game between the Ducks and. Beavers at OSU, and I had found that all football fans were so crazy for the game and really enjoyed watching it, even though the Beavers lost. Moreover, I found that college sports are also a common subject of conversation among Oregonians and that this subject is a good way to initiate a conversation with people when you first meet.

     

     Recently, there has been a great deal of news coverage on the hot issue of food safety in Taiwan, which makes customers in Taiwan extremely concerned about what they can safely eat. During my stay in the U.S., I found that people were free from this concern in that the regulation of the food industry is very strict and the penalty of violating the regulation is huge. For example, I found that food ingredients and components are marked and described in great detail in most food products. I also learned that the U.S. organic products should be certified by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). In this way, the U.S. government takes the responsibility for making its citizens eat at ease. As such, U.S. customers can eat safely and enjoy what they eat. Although the U.S. organic products are a little bit expensive, I and my wife gladly took the opportunity to buy and eat organic foods. We have the same feeling that eating is really joyful as well as healthy in the U.S. In addition, the air is much cleaner and more refreshing in the U.S. than in Taiwan. In fact, the concept of protecting nature and the environment is emphasized more in the U.S. than in Taiwan. In sum, we thoroughly enjoyed our life during my Fulbright grant and really appreciated what we experienced in the U.S.

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