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Research Challenges – Am I Doing “Real” Research?

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  • 1. + Research Challenges – Am I Doing The “Real” Research? Dr. Mazlan Abbas
  • 2. + The notion that geniuses go away and think up one great idea is absurd. n  Remember that Thomas Edison was famous for running thousands of experiments of his ideas before he and his team came up with a working light bulb. n  Therefore, you need to create an environment where people are given the opportunity to: n  Brainstorm, vet, champion ideas and projects that may fail and yet not punish them for failing.
  • 3. Research Challenges
  • 4. + Research “Misunderstanding” n  How Long Does It Take? n  What’s the Difference Between Masters and PhD? n  Why Problem Definition Takes A Long Time? n  How Do We Manage Researchers? n  Why “Research” Approach is Different From “Development”? n  What are the characteristics of a Good Researcher?
  • 5. + Scientific Definition of “Research” n  The strict definition of scientific research is performing a methodical study in order to prove a hypothesis or answer a specific question. n  Finding a definitive answer is the central goal of any experimental process. n  Research must be systematic and follow a series of steps and a rigid standard protocol. These rules are broadly similar but may vary slightly between the different fields of science. n  Scientific research must be organized and undergo planning, including performing literature reviews of past research and evaluating what questions need to be answered. n  Any type of ‘real’ research, whether scientific, economic or historical, requires some kind of interpretation and an opinion from the researcher. This opinion is the underlying principle, or question, that establishes the nature and type of experiment.
  • 6. + What is BASIC Research? •  Basic research also known as fundamental or pure research is driven by a scientist’s curiosity or interest in a question. The main motivation of this type of research is:•  To expand man’s knowledge of the world and not to invent or create something new. •  There is no obvious commercial value in research of this type.
  • 7. + What is BASIC Research? n  Basic science research includes answers to such questions as: •  •  How did the universe begin? How has man evolved over time? •  How does genetic code determine who we are? What is the specific genetic code of an earth worm? •  What are protons, neutrons and electrons made of? • 
  • 8. + What is APPLIED Research? Applied research is designed to the practical problems that exist in the modern world, rather than to just acquire knowledge for knowledge’s sake. One main goal of applied science is to improve human conditions and make the world a better place.
  • 9. + What is APPLIED Research? Applied science may investigate ways to: •  improve agricultural crop production •  get better network throughput •  find alternative routing solutions •  treat or cure a specific disease •  improve the energy efficiency of homes
  • 10. What’s the Difference Between Degree, Masters and PhD’s Work? [Source: “The Illustrated Guide to a PhD” by Matt Might]
  • 11. Imagine a circle that contains all of human knowledge:
  • 12. By the time you finish elementary school, you know a little:
  • 13. By the time you finish high school, you know a bit more:
  • 14. With a bachelor's degree, you gain a specialty:
  • 15. A master's degree deepens that specialty:
  • 16. Reading research papers takes you to the edge of human knowledge:
  • 17. Once you're at the boundary, you focus:
  • 18. You push at the boundary for a few years:
  • 19. Until one day, the boundary gives way:
  • 20. And, that dent you've made is called a Ph.D.:
  • 21. Of course, the world looks different to you now:
  • 22. So, don't forget the bigger picture:
  • 23. Activity Detail Tasks Timeframe Establish Context Literature Review Problem Definition Scope of Research 3-6 months (MSc-PhD) Select & Design Methods Mathematical Modeling Simulation Experimental 3-6 months Undertake Research New mathematical theory New programming language New simulation tool Acquisition and trials test-bed 3-6 months Analysis & Validation Testing of Model 6-12 months Create Output Thesis Technical report 3-6 months Review & Evaluate Publication Conference VIVA < 3 months Note: On average = Masters (2 years to complete) and PhD (3-6 years to complete)
  • 24. How To Choose a Good Scientific Problem? [Excerpts from the Article “How To Choose a Good Scientific Problem” by Uri Alon]
  • 25. Choosing good problem is essential for being a good researcher. But what is a good problem, and how do you choose one?
  • 26. + The Feasibility-Interest Diagram for Choosing a Project
  • 27. + The Feasibility-Interest Diagram for Choosing a Project
  • 28. + Take Your Time •  A common mistake made in choosing problems is taking the first problem that comes to mind. •  Since a typical project takes years even it if seems doable in months, rapid choice leads to much frustration and bitterness in our profession. •  It takes time to find a good problem, and every week spent in choosing one can save months or years later on.
  • 29. + Take Your Time In my lab, we have a rule for new students and postdocs: Do not commit to a problem before 3 months have elapsed. In these 3 months the new student or postdoc reads, discusses, and plans. The state of mind is focused on being rather than doing. The temptation to start working arises, but a rule is a rule. After 3 months (or more), a celebration marks the beginning of the research phase—with a well-planned project. Taking time is not always easy. One must be supported to resist the urge: ‘‘Oh, we must produce—let’s not waste time, and start working.’’
  • 30. + The Subjectivity of the Interest Axis •  Who decides how to rank the interest of problems? •  One of the fundamental aspects of science is that the interest of a problem is subjective and personal. •  The inner voice can be strengthened and guided if one is lucky enough to have caring mentors. •  A scientist often needs a supportive environment to begin to listen to this voice.
  • 31. + The Subjectivity of the Interest Axis n  Good test: n  One way to help listening to the inner voice is to ask: ‘‘If I was the only person on earth, which of these problems would I work on?’’ An honest answer can help minimize compromises. n  Another good sign of the inner voice are ideas and questions that come back again and again to your mind for months or years. n  Another good test: n  n  When asked to describe our research to an acquaintance, how does it feel to describe each project? In science, the more you interest yourself, the larger the probability that you will interest your audience.
  • 32. + The Objective and Nurturing Schemas of Research The mentors’ task is to support students through the cloud that seems to guard the entry into the unknown. And, with this schema, we have more space to see that problem C exists and may be more worthwhile than continuing to plod toward B. “Sailing into the unknown again and again takes courage”
  • 33. + IP Landscape Using Thomson Innovation Tool
  • 34. Research Approaches (1) Mathematical Modeling (2) Simulation (3) Experimental
  • 35. Mathematical Modeling Fast, easily define upper and lower bound Complex mathematics, need programming
  • 36. Network Model Simulation Scalable, Flexible Assumptions must be accurate Time consuming Either self-programming or using simulation tool Expensive (?) Traffic Model Performance Results Algorithm Packet Scheduling Model
  • 37. Experimental Accurate, real results Time consuming, expensive, not scalable
  • 38. Intellectual Properties (IPs) Architecture / Systems / Methods Is it Worth A Masters or PhD
  • 39. + Why Do We Need Degree, Masters and PhD Interns? Support testbed setup Simple experiment and Data Collection Some simple application programming Degree Support experimental work (advanced) Simulation to proof the concept/ideas Masters Mathematical modeling Develop Simulation model Co-generate and test new ideas PhD
  • 40. How Do We Manage Researchers?
  • 41. + Researchers Expectations Breathing space •  •  Need time to think to be creative. Always “Fresh” in new research area •  •  Knowledge always starts anew in every project. Killing Knowledge •  •  We can kill a Product or Project but be careful in killing a “Research” since it will “wipe out” knowledge. Quest for Knowledge •  •  Never ending journey to the Frontiers of Knowledge Finding new challenges •  Recognition in their area of expertise • 
  • 42. Failure doesn't mean you are a failure... it just means you haven't succeeded yet
  • 43. Light At the End of The Tunnel PhD is not all about the novelty achieved but it’s the Systematic Process of Doing Research that’s the utmost important. “Research” Working with the “Unknown” “Development” Working with “Known”
  • 44. Researchers’ Challenges (But who appreciates people working with the Unknown?)
  • 45. + Valley of Appreciation Viewing Angle Application Layer Presentation Layer Session Layer Transport Layer Network Layer Data Link Layer Physical Layer
  • 46. How Deep to Explore? “Breadth” or “Depth” of Research
  • 47. To Go Deeper … You Need a Platform
  • 48. Cave Explorer Explorer’s Risk
  • 49. Do We Reward the “Cave Explorer”? Unstoppable Effort Taking High Risks Venture in to Unknown
  • 50. One More Thing
  • 51. + Research to Development Value Chain Stage Activities ~ % S R 100 0 Applied Research AR 80 20 Advanced Technolog y Product Development AT 50 50 PD 10 90 Maintenance M 0 100 Development (D) Risk increases Research E
  • 52. + Summary - Characteristics of Great Researchers Curiosity Integrity Characteristics of Great Researchers Organization Communication
  • 53. + THANK YOU EMAIL: mazlan@gmail.com TWITTER: mazlan_abbas FACEBOOK: www.facebook.com/drmazlanabbas LINKEDIN: my.linkedin.com/in/mazlan/ SLIDESHARE: www.slideshare.net/mazlan1