PhD proposal

I’ve been rather quiet on the blogging front lately. This is probably because I haven’t really been in the mood for talking about stuff and sharing thoughts.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been involved with writing up the final version of my PhD proposal. Ideally, I’d like to have both the documentation and presentation done before I leave to go home in mid September. I will then give my seminar, and defend it at the end of October.

So far, it’s proved to be a rather elusive document. I started by writing a large document about various thing I could look at, and then started to whittle it down into things that maybe I do want to focus on. Whilst this process was good for looking at everything from a broad perspective, it lacked focus, and lacked a reason for why I’m doing what I am doing.

So, that was last week. It was rather trying. I gave a presentation on it, and was left with the feeling that I’ve done all this work, and I still have no clue. I seriously started to reconsider what I am doing here.

This week, I have started looking at things from the other way around. Basically, I said, “okay, if I now have my PhD, what is it that I can do as a result of this work?”. Answering that question lead me to a couple of points that I could focus on. What it also immediately did, was show how some of the stuff I came up with last week is probably irrelevant for each different point. Also, it showed which targets were not easily achievable with the proposed techniques. Fortunately, a single objective came through, which is the one I’m now going for.

I guess this proposal thing is all about picking a direction. You ultimately don’t have to go in that direction, but you certainly have to start by pointing in a certain direction. You can’t do research randomly. If you do, all you will end up with is meaningless bits of data, which don’t relate to each other.

Also, this exercise showed me how you really need to look at everything from more than one view. It it amazing how a change in perspective can throw relevant and irrelevant things into sharp contrast. So, in theory, the more perspectives and ways you look and think about something, the closer you will get to finding the core of your work.