4 short tips on thinking about research problems

Here I compile some of the key tips you must have in mind when you start on research and picking up problems to solve.

  1. When you think about your problem, think first "Why this problem is so hard?"  "Why this is worth solving"? Reminders: Don't mix "hard" with "time-consuming".  Interviewing 100 people is NOT hard, it is just time-consuming and requires great social practice, but it DOES NOT have any technical challenge.  Also, nobody does it does not mean it's a good problem.   Maybe it just means there is no value in solving.    Read my blog on the type of contributions in order to understand better what is considered "hard".    Research in the engineering field is mostly about solving "technical" challenges, so always ask yourself, what is the technical challenge that you propose in your topic.
  2. When you think about your problem, probably among the first things is to ask "What are some key measurable metrics you gonna use to measure your research success?"   If you are working on some well-known problems, this question will be easy.   But if you are working on some newly-defined problem, make sure you have a logical answer.
  3. Before you make any assumptions or thoughts on any problem, you must read A LOT of papers first.  Focus on the research methodology first.   Please be aware that 99% of the time, your intuition, thoughts, or assumptions are misinformed.   You can use your intuition, once your brain is fixed via reading lots of papers.  
  4. Write every day on the paper you plan to submit (even before your actual experiment).  Writing will help clear your mind and systematize your research.