Student > Do Research

The research part of getting a Ph.D. degree consists of the following steps:

  • Select a research area. Other people should care about this area, especially people in places where you want to get your job. The area should be narrow enough that you should be able to read almost all the research papers in 5-10 month.
  • While reading the research papers, identify the independent variables (the different factors that may cause the results to vary) and the dependent variables (the different aspects of the result). Summarize the different philosophies people had adopted in the past research.
  • Draw a map of all the past research and the hole, with regard to the independent and dependent variables. Modify these variables when necessary.
  • Come up with a different philosophy, or a new combination of the treatment in the different variables. Your research should fill a hole in the framework of past research.
  • Come up with one or more hypotheses, and a validation plan. Make sure the plan can be executed in the period of time you want to finish your degree. Also make sure that your getting the degree is not dependent on the research results being one way or the other (i.e. supporting or not supporting your hypotheses).
  • During the whole process, consistently talk to your advisor and anyone who may understand what your are trying to do. Also try to publish some interim results at conferences. They way you will have your research plan critiqued by colleagues outside your program.
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