Unseen PhD Effort, “Failures,” 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.
Perspectives on Research. In the middle of a project: working on the base of an iceberg. After project completion: can see the entire iceberg, including the above-surface published component.
Perspectives on research: In the middle of a project vs after project completion. Photo of iceberg copyright Andreas Weith under CC BY-SA 4.0; obtained from Wikipedia. Changes include cropping and adding text.
  • What lessons did I learn as I worked on this project?
  • If I were to redo this project, knowing what I know now, what would I do differently? What would I do the same?
  • How would I carry out future projects based on the lessons that I learned? What would I do differently? What would I do the same?
  • What would I tell myself if I find myself stuck while working on a future research project?
Perspectives on Research. In the middle of a project: working on the base of an iceberg. After project completion: can see the entire iceberg, including the above-surface published component. Years later: may not remember all of iceberg base.
Perspectives on research: In the middle of a project vs after project completion vs years later. Photo of iceberg copyright Andreas Weith under CC BY-SA 4.0; obtained from Wikipedia. Changes include cropping and adding text.

--

--

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Tadayoshi Kohno (Yoshi Kohno)

Tadayoshi Kohno (Yoshi Kohno)

Tadayoshi (Yoshi) Kohno is a professor in the UW Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering. His homepage: https://homes.cs.washington.edu/~yoshi/.