Successfully reported this slideshow.
We use your LinkedIn profile and activity data to personalize ads and to show you more relevant ads. You can change your ad preferences anytime.

Principles of Effective Research

797 views

Published on

Presentation for Michael Nielsen's article http://michaelnielsen.org/blog/principles-of-effective-research/

Published in: Education
  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

Principles of Effective Research

  1. 1. Principles of Effective Research Michael Nielsen
  2. 2. About Author • Michael Aaron Nielsen (1974- ) • a quantum physicist, science writer and programmer living in Toronto, Canada • currently focuses on his forthcoming book Neural Networks and Deep Learning
  3. 3. Fundamental Principles • integrating research into the rest of your life • principles of personal behaviour • proactivity • vision • discipline
  4. 4. Research & Life • The foundation of effective research is a strong motivation or desire to do research. • if you don’t get the rest of your life right • your life as a whole will be less good • your research will suffer • example (co-authoring a book)
  5. 5. Research & Life • put aside considerable amount of thought and effort for: • making sure you are fit • looking after your health • spending high quality time with your family • having fun
  6. 6. Principles of Personal Behaviour • foundation of effective research is to: • internalise a strong vision of what you want to achieve • work proactively towards that vision • take personal responsibility for successes and failures • you need to: • develop disciplined work habits • achieve balance between self-development and the actual creative research process
  7. 7. Proactivity and Personal Responsibility • effective people form a vision about the future and work towards it • obvious? McDonald’s example • secret of personal effectiveness: doing basics consistently well
  8. 8. Why Difficult to be Consistently Proactive and Responsible • easier ways out: • blame external circumstance for our problems • get caught up in displacement activities • get down on yourself, worrying and feeling bad
  9. 9. How to Become Proactive • inspire by examples of proactive people • through direct personal contact • through biographies, history, movies, etc… • regularly remind ourselves of the costs and benefits of proactivity and responsibility
  10. 10. Vision • is what you would like to achieve, incorporating both long-term values and goals, as well as shorter-term goals • history shows that great actions usually are the outcome of great purpose • not one-night work; put time aside for developing a vision • a good vision is not inflexible; gets frequently changed as you go along
  11. 11. Self-discipline • self-discipline is not merely a matter of will • three factors to achieve self-discipline: • clarity about what & why you want to achieve (otherwise causes aimlessness and procrastination) • social environment (be accountable to other people) • honesty to oneself (awareness lays the foundation for personal change)
  12. 12. Aspect of Research • self-development • failed to realise their responsibility to make a contribution to the wider community • creative process (best viewed as an extension) • lead to stagnation, plateauing as a researcher • making a significant and regular enough research contribution to enable oneself to get and keep good jobs, while continuing to develop one’s talents, consistently renewing and replenish oneself.
  13. 13. Self-development • principles of personal change • developing research strengths • developing a high-quality research environment
  14. 14. Principles of Personal Change • set behavioural goals (be precise) • how you want to behave • what habits you want have • set simple goals • easier to evaluate • make changes slowly • a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step
  15. 15. Principles of Personal Change • evaluate the change you made, and update goals • compare goals to actual achievement • form an action plan • metaphors help the process of personal change
  16. 16. Metaphors • coach and player • it’s easier to fool yourself and take the easy option than it is to fool anyone else • gradient descent
  17. 17. Regression • falling back to old living style • accept the regression • if you can learn something once, you can do it again • don’t expect learn to do it overnight
  18. 18. Developing Research Strengths • interests -> learn -> goals • develop a unique combination of abilities • Do what you can do better than anybody • stay current • quickly skimming a great deal of work • pick a dozen or so to read deeply
  19. 19. Developing A High-quality Research Environment • Improve your environment: • start a seminar series • organise a small workshop or reading group • create a lounge • in partnership with equally committed people • changes you made will stick around
  20. 20. The Creative Process • problem-solver • the person who works intensively on well-posed technical problems • receive immediate esteem and recognition • problem-creator • often write papers that are technically simple, but ask interesting questions, or pose an old problem in a new way • chance to open up whole new lines of enquiry
  21. 21. Skills for Problem-creators • Developing a taste for what’s important • difficulty is not a good indicator for importance • what your work enables, the connections it makes apparent, the unifying theme uncovered, the new questions asked… • Internal and external standards for importance • don’t be guided by external prizes (e.g. Nobel) • form your own independent standards for what’s interesting and important and worth doing
  22. 22. Skills for Problem-creators • Exploring for problems • survey the landscape of the field and identify patterns • Getting ahead of the game • scanning tunneling microscope • Identify the mess • mess = opportunity
  23. 23. Skills for Problem-solvers • Clarity, goals and forward momentum • Having multiple formulations • Spontaneous discovery as the outcome of self- development (+ exploration)
  24. 24. Working on Important Problems • People often don’t do important problems for some reasons: • Lack of self-development • The thread-mill of small problems • start out in a research career with relatively tractable problems and gradually work up to more difficult problems • The intimidating factor • step by step (a seminar series -> lecture notes -> book -> …)
  25. 25. Working on Important Problems • Committing to work on important problems • a process rather than a moment • People who only attack important problems • takes themselves out of circulation • stops making on-going contributions • loses habits of success • risks losing morale
  26. 26. Thank you

×