Research Patterns

How to Do Great Research

Research creates new ideas, paradigms, and discoveries.  The process of creating new ideas can seem daunting, and somewhat of a mystery.  From some apparently unstructured environment, the mythical process of research will produce new discoveries and knowledge.  Picking a good problem is one important piece of the puzzle; as I have previously discussed, developing taste in research problems and learning how to identify good problems can take many years of experience (indeed, part of the Ph.D. process itself is gaining experience and research taste).

Before we begin our research careers, we experience structured training: we attend classes, read textbooks, and grind through problem sets in areas that might be called “established science”. In contrast, the research process  appears completely unstructured—researchers create new ideas and discoveries, seemingly from nowhere.  Research papers convey the outcomes of research, but they do not shed light on the process of how the problem was…

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