Ravi Mohan's Blog

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Rogue Researcher's Route Map - Addendum

I wrote about what I learned when attempting to do Comp Sci research on my own (A Rogue researcher's route map).

Something I've learned since then might help people read research papers- Every (good) research paper asks (and hopefully answers) a question. Try to discover the question being asked and the answer and nail them both down by trying to express them in a couple of sentences each.

This really helps you understand the significance of a paper for your research. And stops you from panicking when you discover papers which seem to cover ground similar to what you are doing).

Paul Graham , talking about startup ideas, says,

Treating a startup idea as a question changes what you're looking for. If an idea is a blueprint, it has to be right. But if it's a question, it can be wrong, so long as it's wrong in a way that leads to more ideas.

Seems to work for research as well, especially for solo hackers attempting research outside institutional frameworks.


Mridul said...

I think it is a good insight and point to keep in your "focus area". Except very well balanced folks, who are very sharp in evaluating your research topic, when you ask for a review or feedback; most of the people around you, would in 99% cases say "your research is nothing but this xyz thing which already exists!". They would even send you related white papers etc,. which *may* look similar. Also, many times we have a tendency (nothing wrong) to look for similar patterns (as the topic we are researching) in related white papers than reading the paper in it's own completeness.

This tool/process comes in handy to remove any vagueness coming out due to "similarity" and ofcourse in the absence of very seasoned researchers to take feedback from, it is a good tool to add to your research kit. May be we should coin a name for it:).

Ravi said...

"in the absence of very seasoned researchers to take feedback from, it is a good tool to add to your research kit"

Now when are you starting a blog? :-D

Mridul said...

May be I should have a deadline, than saying "very soon".:)
I know I still didn't answer the question :p