Research Journal #1


It has almost been a month since the start of my PhD journey. It's easy to lose track of time because there's so much going on. In my undergraduate life, I occasionally wrote journals to reflect on my feelings and takeways for a period of time. It's always nice to have that conversation with yourself once a while. I feel a stronger necessity to keep this habit as a routine during PhD. It's a good way to gather and reflect what I have experienced and learnt in research life. Patterns can be found and new adjustments can be made. On the other hand, it's a good writing practice for me as a non-native English speaker.

I decide to follow the structure of my self-made vanilla "PhD Blueprint" to record my weekly progress on the components that I find imporatnt to develop during PhD.

Vanilla PhD Blueprint

I was looking for this structure for a long while to understand what is going on in PhD life. Just like a startup would have its business plan, where it can be further decomposed into different strategy components (e.g. marketing, product, HR) and implementation plans, it can be quite handy to have that to guide the "entrepreneurial journey" of a PhD student. It gives a clear sense of guideline on what you should / should not do in daily life.

  1. Research Vision: I feel this concept is very similar to what people usually call "research agenda" or "research identity". Using an analogy with commercial companies, "research vision" is equivalent to corporate purpose. Corporate purpose explains why a company exists at the first place and articulates what the organization is fighting for. Research vision explains why a researcher's research should exist at its first place, the intellectual goal he/she wants to pursue, and the community he/she wants to serve. Just like corporate purpose is usually unrelated to its profit goals, research vision is unrelated to the number of publications/cites to get. I would love to think that (even it may not be totally true) the measurable results (profits/publication) is a proxy of how well the research vision is outlined and executed.
  2. How to achieve?: the four boxes on the bottom are necessary to achieve one's research vision
    1. Research Taste: understand what makes a good piece of research; have a good sense of judgement on the quality of research articles.
    2. Methodology: this is very very important, especially for me at the initial stage of PhD. A false methodology can never produce convincing insights.
    3. Collaborator network: have a group of academics who share similar broader intellectural interests, but have diverse skill sets to complement each other.
    4. Communication: being able to write and talk effectively. Good ideas needs good articulation to come across.

I feel this framework can be a good place of start to guide me through PhD life. But for sure, changes would be made on it throughout the journey.

Time to study some microeconomics!

© Zhiwei (Berry) Wang.RSS