Thursday, May 12, 2016

New ideas are hard.

Coming up with a research proposal:

  1. Identify a field of interest
  2. Identify a knowledge gap within that field
    1. Propose a way to address it

     3. Identify a recent novel finding in that field
               1. Propose a way to apply it to something new

  1. Identify a field of interest
  2. Look at papers for hours
    1. Identify a potential knowledge gap
      1. Find a paper that addresses said knowledge gap. 
    2. Identify new knowledge gap
      1. Propose way to address it
        1. Realize proposed solution wouldn't work for approximately 8934732 different reasons. 
      2. Propose new way to address it
        1. Realize you have no idea what sort of experiments/techniques you would use
  3. Repeat step 2 until you break down and google "cool science thingys"
  4. Cry because googling "cool science thingys" didn't help
  5. Take a break
  6. During break, decide to choose a different field of interest
  7. Go back to step 1

That may be a bit exaggerated, but I think it gets the point across. Coming up with novel ideas and feasible ways of achieving them is hard. 

If Mod 2 taught me that I am capable of writing a scientific paper, Mod 3 taught me not to underestimate the time and energy that go into every step of the research process. Going into Mod 3, I felt reasonably confident in my ability to write a paper, but I was completely unprepared for the amount of time and effort I would have to put in just to come up with an idea. I said in a previous post that writing is like being on a treadmill. If that's true, then coming up with a novel idea is like slipping on the ice and struggling to get back to your feet.
Luckily, I eventually got my footing (and eventually got to a place with more traction), but boy oh boy was the beginning tough. I have so much respect for scientists who come up with new ideas regularly. What an impressive skill that is. 

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