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Is is possible to do graduate-level research without getting an adviser?

  1. Jan 28, 2010 #1
    The sad reality in my university is that there is no one who can advise me regarding the topics that I'm interested in, usually about theoretical physics. I live in a 3rd world country and the state of scientific research here is frustrating. Don't get me wrong, my professors are doing well with their own respective fields. But the quality of their research is not like those I would find when reading international publications.

    Another extension of my question would be: It is possible to ask someone from outside the country to advise me? This is given that I have almost zero preparation outside textbook problems and a bit of journal readings. I'm not the best student around, and I am admittedly challenged, but I believe it's not due to my lack of comprehension but because of the lack of support and community here.

    I'm very much planning to do PhD abroad. But it seems like you need research experience prior to being accepted. So I'm out here hoping to get research experience being a master's degree student. The problem is, I'm here in this 3rd world dilemma.

    To prevent from straying too far, here's my question once again: Is is possible to do graduate-level research without getting an adviser? If not, how can I do with the case above? Thank you!
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2010
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 28, 2010 #2


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    Where did you get this faulty idea?

  4. Jan 28, 2010 #3


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    Research experience is not a requirement for grad school. It's highly recommended, and many top grad programs will expect it, but you can get into grad school without it. Just don't bother applying to the very top programs.

    As for doing research on your own, sure, it's possible, but it's unlikely you'll make much, if any, progress. You really do need someone to guide you through this. Maybe you can get a bit of experience with whatever research your professor can offer while you apply to graduate programs (since many application due dates for this year have already passed). Even if it's not exactly what you want to do, any research experience is valuable.
  5. Jan 28, 2010 #4
    Or apply and make it very clear in your personal statement that the reason you don't have research experience is 'cause you're in a third world country. And have stellar grades and GRE scores.
  6. Jan 28, 2010 #5


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    I have friends from third world countries (mostly in South America) who still managed to get research experience - it sounds like the poster doesn't have research experience because he doesn't want to do what's available, not because nothing is available.
  7. Jan 28, 2010 #6


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    I agree, even in "third world countries" now known as developing nations, there is always some R&D. This research is usually on topics you might not be interested in. However, you got to play the cards you were given.
  8. Jan 29, 2010 #7
    Well, I wouldn't give the OP the false impression that graduate level research is necessarily 'highly recommended', at least in the fashion that he seems to interpret it.

    In the UK at least, entry into graduate programmes is based on a demonstration of your interest: and having performed 'research' as an undergraduate isn't about publishing a paper or producing something meaningful - it's about developing your skills. Being able to say, for instance, that you've spent X hours working on Y problem using Z programming language.

    Having something to bring up in the interview as evidence that you know you're interested in the field is the main thing: applying to my graduate program i was able to point out that I've done 'research' projects with doctors in my university in things like image processing - albeit in a completely different context to that which I'm pursuing just now; but that isn't the point.

    I would say that even if your professors are not able to cater to your preferred subject area, try and find something that will have an applicable skill. Depending on what you're interested in, computation or laboratory time will be invaluable: try to match it up. And by all means, read papers on the subject you want to apply to - ask people on this forum for guidelines on where to start to introduce yourself into research in the field.

    I wouldn't worry too much about completing relevant research before you graduate. Focus on building your skills base and develop some introductary knowledge such that you'll be able to demonstrate that you care about the subject.
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