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Useful resources for doing research and finishing a thesis

There are several useful resources for doing research bellow, but the really difficult question is not how to do PhD research, but whether it is worth doing a PhD, and gender issues in research careers

How to do research 

(extracted from Harvard CS261)

Goal is to contribute knowledge to the field.

  • Challenge is finding a question that can be reasonably answered in several weeks.
  • One of the greatest challenges in experimental computer science is distinguishing research from engineering.

Engineering vs. Research (Good research often requires some engineering)

Golden rule #1: The engineering is not the research.
  • "I want to build mouse trap?" is not research.
  • "Is my new-fangled high-tech mouse trap better at trapping mice than a conventional one?" is possibly a research project. ("And why is that so," makes it even better.)
Golden rule #2: Research requires a question (hypothesis).
  • Is my mousetrap better?
  • Why is my mousetrap better?
  • Why is Bill's mousetrap not as good as Scott's mousetrap?
  • Does there exist a material that is better at building mousetraps than those conventionally used?
  • If mousetraps were invisible, would they work better?
  • How can we build invisible mouse traps?
Golden rule #3: The engineering helps you ask the question.
  • Create a prototype mousetrap.
  • Build a framework in which to evaluate the efficacy of mousetraps.
  • Designing experiments is a combination of engineering and research.
  • Conducting the experiments is often engineering.
  • Analyzing the results of the experiments is the research.
Golden rule #4: Tolerate no sloppiness when conducting the research.
  • Write down everything.
  • Understand the numbers!
  • Question yourself constantly.
  • Understand the numbers!
  • Remind yourself of the question you are asking.
  • Understand the numbers!