Week 2 research interests time management
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Week 2: Research Interests/ Time Management. Informatics 201 Prof. Bill Tomlinson. NSF GRFP. How many students are planning to apply? End a few minutes early so we can chat. Pitch ThisCausesThat. Research Project (Melissa suggested). Goal of Academia. Two Key Pieces

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Week 2: Research Interests/ Time Management

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Week 2: Research Interests/Time Management

Informatics 201

Prof. Bill Tomlinson


  • How many students are planning to apply?

  • End a few minutes early so we can chat.


  • Research Project (Melissa suggested)

Goal of Academia

  • Two Key Pieces

    • Discovering/inventing interesting stuff.

    • Telling the world about it.


  • Study what’s there?

  • Make new stuff?

  • Both? (Can you effectively make new stuff without studying what’s there’s first?)

Having Bold Thoughts

  • Stake drivers and pebble pilers

Research Methods

  • Help to understand/create it.

Telling The World

  • Cause people to believe/accept it.

Dissemination paths

  • Publications

  • Conference presentations

  • Demos

  • Press

  • Informal interactions

To Help Demonstrate the Value of Appropriate Research Methods…

Counter Example 1

  • Thesis: “The smartest people in this class are sitting on the left side of the room.”

  • Why is this flawed?

  • What might my methods have been?

  • What’s wrong with its methods?

  • Why wouldn’t people believe it?

Research Methods

  • How could we do a better job of solving a problem like this?


  • How is smart different from tall or old?

  • Whose left?


  • How do we identify individuals, measure phenomena?


  • How would we convince different audiences of a statement of this kind?

Counter Example 2

  • Research Question: What are the best parts of this class?

The Wrong Methods

  • Quantitative via Likert Scales

    • Strongly disagree

    • Disagree

    • Neither agree nor disagree

    • Agree

    • Strongly agree

  • Take 10 minutes and write up a 5-10 Likert-scale questionnaire that seeks to address this question.

Compare questionnaires


  • Best to whom? Students? Administration? Faculty? Candid camera?


  • How might you find out?

Counter Example 3

  • Research Question:

    • What is the average blood sugar level in the class?

  • Methods:

    • You may use only personal interviews.

What Methods You Use…

  • Are largely determined by what you are trying to figure out, and who you are trying to convince.

More on Methods Throughout the Course




  • What are your research interests?

  • Foner: What are you really trying to do?

  • Moshell: Take all your projects and look at the intersection.

“I’m a screenwriter.”

  • You are what you publish.

Volunteers to Show CV?

  • For the rest of the class: what can we tell about them?

  • What are their research interests?

  • With what disciplines/groups do they affiliate?

Team up, pick ICS prof, analyze CV

  • Basic structure of CV

  • What does an academic career look like?


  • About CVs?


GWYCF 10, 11

  • Go over notes

Why Grad Students Succeed or Fail

  • More than 30 percent of all graduate students never feel that they have a faculty mentor.

  • Two-thirds of graduate students enter Ph.D. programs without any debt, suggesting that those concerned about expanding the pipeline to graduate education should pay attention to the affordability of undergraduate education.

  • Students rate their social interaction with faculty members as high in the engineering, sciences, mathematics and education -- and relatively low in the social sciences and humanities.

  • In rating the quality of academic interactions, students in the humanities think highly of their professors while those in the social sciences and math and science are more critical.

  • Significant gaps exist in the experiences of minority and female graduate students -- from admissions to getting teaching or research assistant jobs to publishing research while still in graduate school. Generally, these gaps do not favor minority students.

Assignment for next week

  • Find one or more people whom you might aspire to be like, professionally.

  • Examine their CV/resume/bio/web presence closely.

  • What is it about them that you would like to emulate?

  • Write a future CV of yourself.

  • Both content and formatting.

  • Upload to EEE DropBox and bring one copy to class next week.

Time Management

  • Discuss Judy Olson’s plan


  • Being on time

  • Not double booking

  • Technological support


  • What is your circadian rhythm like?


  • How will you make steady, incremental progress, without much supervision, on a project that will span for hundreds of weeks?


  • Integrating with other people’s calendars.

  • When scheduling my defense, 3 months out, there was exactly one 3-hour block where my four committee members were all available.


  • Knowing how to manage a research project at this scale.

  • PhDs have been forced to learn how to do this better than most people.

  • Good engineers develop the skill of predicting how long something will take.


  • Where do you want to be in 10 years?

  • What are your life goals?


  • Hiroshi story. What will your impact be in 200 years?

Questions re: Time Management?

The End (for Today)

  • Discuss NSF GRFP.

  • Login