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Research Topic

  1. Oct 16, 2009 #1
    I am an undergraduate in physics and I am getting myself prepared for some research. I am taking a class which essentially gives me academic credit for a supervised research project I do under a faculty member. However, the choice of my research varies with contingent factors involved. For instance, my professor told me that I should really work on something I enjoy (like black holes, which involves general relativity), more than something that I can turn into serious published work (like globular clusters, which I could probably make better progress in). However, it is really important to me to also build an important academic profile and I think it would look good if I can work on a project that would evolve into professional research by the time I graduate.

    Not to say that if I did something on black holes now, I would have to abandon it as soon as I got a grade for the course.

    But what should I do?

    Any advice?
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 16, 2009 #2


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    What you do now does not necessarily determine what you'll study in grad school or after grad school. I did research on galaxies, star clusters, and solar physics before starting my PhD, and now it's something else entirely again. The chances of you getting something publishable out of a semester or two of research credit is pretty small, so concentrate on what you like. And keep your limits in mind - sure, black hole theory sounds cool, but chances are very good you'd spend the whole year just building up to the point where you could start to understand the research currently being done.
  4. Oct 16, 2009 #3
    Yes, well, the point of me getting research credit was just so that it would be complimentary to the research goal I intended to pursue. My whole point was that I wasn't reducing my academic ambitions to just a few credits in one semester. I want to work on something from now until I graduate and was hoping the research course would simply be a good starting point, not end point.

    Thanks for your advice though.
  5. Oct 16, 2009 #4


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    There is no way for you to know exactly what kind of research you will be doing later. Even you end up in exactly the field you are interested in right now, what project you work on will depend on what your supervisors is interested in and -more importantly- has funding for. Graduate student have -generally speaking- not that much control over what they end up doing.
    Also, I think you are underestimating the time it takes to do original research; even when you are up to speed in a particular field (which takes 2-3 years of full time work) it still takes about a year or so to do something that is worth publishing (one article as a first author+a couple of conference paper derived from that work is usually considered a good annual output).
  6. Oct 16, 2009 #5


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    You may want to also factor in the skills that you would pick up in whatever project you chose. When graduate admissions committees look at your research experience from undergraduate work, one of the things they look for is what skills you've picked up such as programming languages, or electronics skills. These can also double as marketable traits if you decided not to pursue academia at any point.
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