Thursday, 25 July 2013

Producing Good Research

Lately, I have been putting a lot of efforts into writing my thesis. As I am writing up my literature review, I found that one part of thesis was essentially proposed by some previous work in the 1990's. That is not to say that there is nothing novel in it. But it gives me a sense that my work is just a small extension of theirs. However, I did notice there is an open problem that has yet to be solved (after going through many papers). But, I will not have the time to solve it. This makes wondering - is my research worthwhile, what makes a good research and how do produce one? Hopefully, people don't have to resolve to the following method:

A good research discovers or solves something that truly matters. Often, results as such will be recognized by the vast majority of other researchers. When you write a paper that is highly cited, this means that you have produced a good research. Unfortunately, it is very hard for professors to even achieve such results, not to mention, students. As for my research for my MASc, I would say that my results are not that great , which honestly I find unsatisfying. The reason is as I worked on my original research project, I came across a couple of important problems. It kinda bugs me that I can't work on those problems because I have to graduate on time and I won't be doing my PhD.

Putting that aside, this whole experience has made me to ask this question - how does good research ideas come about? To answer this question, I turn to Steven Johnson's video. The simple answer is good ideas favor the connected mind. Let me do some explanation. Steven's research found that most of the good ideas initiated from an environment where people are talking and exchanging ideas. He gives several good examples, one of them being the birth of the Global Positioning System (GPS). Furthermore, he explains good ideas doesn't pop up suddenly. Rather, good ideas form slowly and vividly in our mind. From my own personal experience, the last point is so true. I only came across the important problems only after working months on my less interesting ones.

Having said that, I guess it is hard for a Master's student to come up with good research when time is required to form these good research ideas. Perhaps, the best way for a grad student to produce a good research is to talk more often with others about different topics. Hopefully, that would help you to get a better head start in selecting a good research topic.

No comments:

Post a Comment Blog Ping Site Google+