Personal Examples of the Research Cycle and the Research Iceberg Analogy

The Research Process and the Iceberg. Above water: The published work. Below water: The unseen effort. The unseen effort consists of an iterative cycle of: (1) identifying potential projects, (2) selecting which problems to work on, (3) working on those problems, (4) refining the work for publication, and (5) dealing with setbacks along the way.
The Research Process and the Iceberg. Photo of iceberg copyright Andreas Weith under CC BY-SA 4.0; obtained from Wikipedia. Changes include cropping, adding text, and adding a spiral.

[T]he research process (generally) consists of (1) identifying potential projects, (2) selecting which problems to work on, (3) working on those problems, (4) refining the work for publication, and (5) dealing with setbacks along the way. Eventually, one enters the phase of (6) publishing the results.

The cyclical pattern in the above diagram indicates the repetitive cycle of (1)-(2)-(3)-(4)-(5)-(1)-(2)-(3)-(4)-(5)-(1)-(2)-(3)-… that happens before the work is finally published (6). The mass of the cycles below the water surface represents the significant amount of effort that goes into a research project but that is not visible in the resulting publication.

Image of Lesley Stahl and Kathleen Fisher driving our research vehicle for 60 Minutes (image from CBS News). In this image, Lesley Stahl attempted to stop the car by pressing the brake pedal before hitting the cones.
Image of Lesley Stahl and Kathleen Fisher driving our research vehicle for 60 Minutes (image from CBS News). Our research team discovered security vulnerabilities that would allow remote parties to disable the car’s brakes. In this image, Lesley Stahl attempted to stop the car by pressing the brake pedal before hitting the cones.

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