203 Letter from Lan Xue
Dear tourism female researchers,
There are three advices I want to share with you based on my own experience in conducting tourism-related research.
First, ask big questions. Since tourism started to become a research field in the 1960s, major disciplines including economics, sociology, psychology, geography, anthropology, etc. became the sources for tourism knowledge. The link between tourism studies and other major disciplines are mostly unidirectional by which tourism scholars find inspirations from other disciplines. Meanwhile, tourism knowledge rarely affects other disciplines. If tourism studies want to maintain a healthy development and to be acknowledged by other disciplines, the best way is to create knowledge that can shed lights on the latter. To achieve it, you should be ambitious to ask big questions that take the tourism field as a research setting and create knowledge that can be generalized to other settings. For instance, you may use tourism settings to explore human mobility, modern culture, consumer behavior, experiential industries, etc.
Second, leave your comfort zone. To be able to answer big questions, it is necessary to leave your comfort zone and use unfamiliar research methods if the big questions are out of your expertise. When I began my PHD at the Pennsylvania State University in 2011, I was mainly trained with quantitative research skills, i.e., survey methods and statistical analyses. At that time, I saw the problems of survey methods in tourism studies: small and unrepresentative sample. After learning one semester of qualitative research method, I decided to use qualitative methods for my PHD research. When I obtained my PHD in 2015, big data analytics started to emerge and quickly become the third major research method for social sciences. I felt the need to be familiar with the method and learned Python and SQL on my own. Learning different methods expanded my views and prepared me for diverse research questions.
Third, enjoy learning as a lifetime journey. For me, the best thing of being a scholar is to explore the unknown for work requirements, which makes learning a lifetime journey. What is better than this? Reading seminar books and keeping pace with recent scientific progress advance my knowledge and broaden my view. Preparing courses and interacting with students in class help organize my idea in a systematic way. Engaging in industrial practices breaks my knowledge gap between theories and practices. Conducting research experiments my hypothesis and contributes to a better understanding of the world. Therefore, my last advice for you is to enjoy being a scholar and enjoy learning as a lifetime journey. Afterall, the process is more important than the result. “Life is a one time offer, use it well.”
Department of Tourism, Fudan University, Shanghai, China