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Writing your first research paper

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Writing your first research paper [#permalink] New post 08 Oct 2010, 07:27
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(work in progress - feedback welcome)

A Ph.D. is training for research. Research is about asking and answering interesting questions. An interesting research question is one that many in your field care about and that you have an ability to solve.

Step 1 - Course work


Your first step is to master the course work. For the first two years of your Ph.D program, it is important for you to have expertise in your coursework - not necessarily good grades, but real understanding of nuances. Most Ph.D. level classes will require you to write term papers. It is an opportunity for you to explore your first research ideas using the methodologies you learn in the classroom.

Any serious faculty member has influenced their field in a major way - their work and word matters. Taking courses also lets you develop relationships with faculty. Take any course as an opportunity to develop relationships with faculty - these are people who will stay on your resume, whether as referees on your application, co-authors, or the people who write your tenure letters.

Step 2 - Understand Literature


Your next major step is mastery of literature. Every Ph.D. program seeks to achieve this goal via Ph.D. seminars. In Ph.D. seminars, you will study and present research papers. Most often, a requirement of every Ph.D. seminar is a term paper. Understanding literature exposes you to different research styles and open research questions to pursue.

In many cases, the leading researcher in a field will publish a survey paper that summarizes and categorizes existing literature, and discusses open questions.

Step 3 - Choosing a Topic


If you have never written a paper before, pick something that you are very familiar with, either the methodology or the subject matter. Your goal is not to change the world, but to get some understanding of how to define a problem, write a review of literature, set up the model, do the analysis, and most importantly how to write the paper.

Step 4 - Your first attempt



You should start writing your first paper in your second semester or by the summer of the first year. If you are like a normal Ph.D. student, you will not succeed with your first attempt at writing a publishable research paper. You may end up writing a term paper, which may not be publishable.

Your goal should be to write a paper and send it to a journal before you take your comprehensive exams at the end of your second year. Writing a full paper is often a requirement at many schools, but it is a great idea to do so regardless of formal requirements.

more to come..feedback welcome
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Re: Writing your first research paper [#permalink] New post 11 Apr 2011, 08:46
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work in progress..

Some Guidelines



Research



  • Be honest about your abilities
    Your goal is a completed research paper that presents something new. If you are good at linear programming, pick a problem from literature that uses a linear programming model.
  • All models are wrong.
    You will attempt to answer research questions based only on a representation of reality. Explain your assumptions. Qualify your research insights in light of your assumptions.
  • The simplest model is the best model.
    A corollary to "all models are wrong" is to choose a simple model over a complex one. A simple model shines a bright light on factors that are most relevant to answering your research questions.

Writing



  • Develop a power point presentation for your research as you keep working on the problem definition, literature review and the analysis.
  • When you have completed your research and the presentation, first plan the sections of your paper, then the sub-sections etc. Then determine the location of tables with hand drawn figures.
  • When you do begin writing, write in long blocks of time with no distractions. Whether you write one line or one page, be seated in one location.
  • Good writing requires rewriting. Write your first draft, then rewrite, rewrite and rewrite.

Last edited by Praetorian on 26 Oct 2010, 22:49, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Writing your first research paper [#permalink] New post 03 Jul 2011, 18:57
Does having publications before entering into a PhD program help one with the admissions? Thanks!
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Re: Writing your first research paper [#permalink] New post 22 Aug 2011, 07:07
I think picking what you wanna say, ie, your topic is the most difficult.
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Re: Writing your first research paper [#permalink] New post 19 Dec 2011, 06:35
thanks guys. I do want to say that this is one person's very personal opinion! The idea is to make a start, and hopefully develop the thread with your own opinions, perspectives and questions.

I would substitute a easy-to-relate-to advisor for a great topic every time.
Re: Writing your first research paper   [#permalink] 19 Dec 2011, 06:35
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