So you want to be a researcher..huh? (Part II)

Today, I will discuss on how to find a doctoral position in a foreign or home university. The charm of studying and conducting research on foreign soil is always interesting so as to say. Because, as solitary student, one would tend to easily slip into the illusion that foreign PhD’s are instant boost to career. Let’s first clarify a few of the myths;

(P.S. This post is not for the born geniuses, if you are any of these close the browser page and move on. But, if you are like me, hard-working to the core, read on the experiences as I recount to you.)

  • ImageA foreign doctoral degree will give you a cutting edge in job market? – Yes, it can, provided you have done your homework well. With homework what I mean is that you are well experienced in terms of previous working experience. My definition of well experienced is a number equal to or greater than 8 years in the topic of your research. Folk’s believe me, this is the most important bit. If you are not suitably experienced and you our straight out of a College or University armed with a degree with a happy smile on your face and you are thinking of enrolling into a PhD, don’t do it. Unless, you are a born genius, please don’t even think about it. I have reason to it. Look, PhD is a loner’s life. As I mentioned in my previous article, only if you are in love with your topic of interest you will sail through easily. Because, when you enrol into a doctoral programme, worldwide a common protocol is followed and that is you begin your journey by conducting a literature review of all the research-paper’s published till date in your topic of interest. So, if you do not have any previous working experience then your mind will not be able to help you with the keywords to search for relevant text/research papers in various databases and then you will be jinxed
  • ImageForeign University will give me a Research Assistantship (R.A.)-  Ensure before enrolling into a PhD programme that you will be able to secure a RA position as soon as you begin your programme of study because if this isn’t clarified in the beginning and you reach and you don’t get it, again you are jinxed (believe me, I almost have to stop myself from using that F**** word because this blog is my baby and I don’t feel like tarnishing it..). Sometimes, your supervisor suggests that it will give you a RA position but for that you will have to prove your mettle. And that’s where your writing, inter-personal skills and everything else will be handy.Generally, the public universities have the option of RA to provide to a candidate but to secure that position you really have to burn the midnight oil. It will be easy for you to secure a RA position provided you already have a few publications to your name if not then you must work hard and prove to your supervisor that you deserve it.
  • ImageHow to find a PhD position in an University? You begin by a reconnaissance survey. How do you that’s the million dollar question. Answer is simple, first find your topic, then create a list of all the Universities who are working in your field of interest worldwide. Now, sit back put on your thinking hat and write a damn good proposal that introduces your topic. It could be roughly 6-8 pages long. Mine was 8 pages long. I had spent more than 3 months just writing the proposal. My proposal focused more on the literature review and what is new or novel that I’m suggesting. This novelty of idea comes only if you have invested a lot of time in conducting a scientific way of literature review.  In my next post, I will discuss on how to write a proposal including literature review. Post this, you write a formal cover letter in which you introduce yourself to the University. Next, browse to the potential University web-portal and search for relevant Professor’s/Lecturer’s who are working in your field of interest. Once you have identified them, send them your cover letter along with your intended research proposal. And then wait….wait….Do a follow-up once a month from the time of sending your email with them, just a small gentle reminder. And yes, the most important part, for heaven’s sake create a professional email address and no funky or jazzy one.. Because academicians are very strict about it. Do not be disheartened if you don’t receive a reply in the very first month for that’s common.
  • Hooray! I have nailed it. My research proposal has been accepted, what to do next?                              Congratulations! Welcome to hell. Just joking. Well, this is something you should have done earlier but its still not late. Go back to the University website and check out the research profile of your intended supervisor. What you are looking for is his research career, his publications history and how many current and former research candidates it has supervised. This will give you a brief idea on whom you are dealing with, what’s the person like. Always remember, your supervisor is merely a guide who is going to show you the way therefore a healthy and conducive relationship with that person is a mandate. That does not mean that you will engage yourself in the complicated process of boot-licking…! I believe this will be a good time to ask your potential supervisor up-front on the sources of his funding such that you can then figure out from him if you will be able to secure an RA position later on or not.

The aforementioned were a few common issue’s that most every research student faces in the beginning. This is not exhaustive, yet if you were able to find an answer to your question then do leave your comment here.

So you want to be a researcher..huh? (Part 1)

So you want to be a researcher? Good and Bad….

Wondering why? Then read on..

This is the first of the many parts of series of posts. RememberRemember, the road travelled by a researcher is typical long winding and lonely, therefore you got to keep your music system (read sanity) intact and playing. Read and write as much as possible. Talk, discuss and keep your ears open to anyone offering a free piece of advice or lecture. Its you who has to funnel out what is trash and what is gold.

 The topic that you choose should be carefully picked, because you will have to eat, drink and sleep with that topic for the next 3 years (if you are in bachelor’s degree) or 2 years (if in Master’s) and so forth. When choosing a topic, bear in mind two entities, (1) Is it publishable? (2) Are you in love with it ?

Lets briefly talk about Literature review. I’m sure at some point or the other of your academic career, you were asked to do a literature review. First, why do we do a literature review, simple answer because it will not only tell you what all previous works have been done in your field of study but also if you do this review scientifically then it will be gold else it will be trash. Next question arises, “How to perform a scientific literature review?”, The answer lies in few well articulated text’s like ‘Kitchenham’s review’. Read it, if you want to get published. See collecting research papers up till 10 are OK to manage but it spells doom when you have more than that. I suggest use Endnote or Mendeley. My personal favourite is EndNote. Why? Because it has a utility in it called as ‘Smart group”, which lets you cluster and files similar papers together.

Continuing further, if you don’t have access to specialised databases like IEEExplore or ACM Digital then don’t fret or worry. Google scholar is your best buddy or Microsoft research center, it will help you out. networkingMy suggestion is assuming you don’t have access to a good researched database as above and you wish to publish or make a career for yourself in the research community. In that case, engage yourself in networking with other’s, you might find something useful in Facebook, that’s why i chose to write ‘might find’, but your best bet will be LinkedIn. There, you will find various groups of your topic of interest. And please, if you are using LinkedIn, ensure that you have if not a well written profile than at least a decent one. Once you have read enough using either of the aforementioned means and you can answer to yourself the question that you now know substantial about the topic, only then you should go get yourself a subscription to any of the paid databases. Ahh.. and how could I forget, maintain a blog..its a healthy activity and will keep you happy, trust me…smiles

Well, this is all for now. Do provide your views on it and be well.

How to write an abstract?

To begin with, this post is for my use only. It might serve as a blatant no for the readers of this column which even though I wish I had in thousands are quite few….Image

Anyway, continuing further, I have embarked on a tedious journey and this blog will serve as my flag-post, a constant reminder of major issues that I might forget during this long arduous journey.

I found this nice article on a website ( and am summarising it down;

Abstract has become very important these days, because no one has the time to read your long paper honest but that’s the truth. Unless, you write a few sentences that catapult the reader to jump into its car seat and make a mad rush to the library to read your full paper. Until then, the abstract that you have written is trash. So here are some key-points, that you got to remember, while you sell your paper to the research community!

  1. Motivation: See, you get motivated after you have read something and identified a gap so that gap is your problem statement that you got to write first and post which you write its results. This section should include the importance of your work, the difficulty of the area that you’re studying and the impact that it might have if you are successful.
  2. Problem statement: what’s the problem that you are trying to solve, what is its scope? Please ensure not to use too much jargon
  3. Approach: How did you solve the problem, what important variables did you control, ignore or measure? Did you use simulation, analytic models, prototype construction, or analysis of field data for an actual product?
  4. Results: What’s the answer?

Conclusions: What are the implications of your answer? Is it going to change the world (unlikely), be a significant “win”, be a nice hack, or simply serve as a road sign indicating that this path is a waste of time (all of the previous results are useful)? 

Theo Priestley: Unlocking Big Data Silos Through Integration

Theo Priestley: Unlocking Big Data Silos Through Integration –

3MT – Flinders University

3MT – Flinders University –

Writing for scientific publication: 3 common mistakes

Ashish Dutt:

This post will be a constant reminder to me. Therefore, it aught to be reblogged. Thank you, for this resource full article.

Originally posted on The Research Whisperer:

Marc BaldwinMarc D. Baldwin is the founder & CEO of Edit911 Editing Service. He is also Professor of English at Hillsborough Community College and a published author.

You can find more of his writing and editing advice on the Edit911 blog.

One of the most important things you will do as a scientist or researcher is publish your work. It isn’t just a matter of sharing information—an integral part of the scientific process—it’s also about furthering your career.

Publishing your work in a scientific journal is a requirement toward earning a graduate degree at some institutions. Beyond graduation, getting published is necessary for a career in academia and, increasingly, in industry as well.

I have proofread and reviewed hundreds of original manuscripts in my career as a research scientist and lecturer. I’ve noticed over the years that most mistakes can be placed into a few simple categories. In this…

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The MOOC Express – Less Hype, More Hope

Ashish Dutt:

Tomes of people are flocking towards this new abridged edition of online learning. But what remains unanswered so far is, “The MOOC paradigm invigorate learning?”.

Originally posted on MOOCtalk:

A real-time chronicle of a seasoned professor just about to launch the fourth edition of his massively open online course.


Last week, I headed off to Arlington, Texas, to participate in a large, international conference on MOOC education, part of the Gates Foundation funded MOOC Research Initiative (MRI). While the founders of the big, massively-funded American MOOC (“MFAM”) platforms Coursera, edX, Udacity, and Novo Ed capture most of the media’s attention, this conference was led by the small band of far less well known Canadian online-education pioneers who actually developed the MOOC concept some years earlier, in particular George Siemens and Stephen Downes who organized and ran the first MOOC in 2008, and David Cornier who forever has to live with having coined the name “MOOC”.

(There were so many Canadians in Arlington, they brought their own weather with them, as you can see from the photograph. The conference ended with participants having…

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