1. Limited time only! Sign up for a free 30min personal tutor trial with Chegg Tutors
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Admissions Undergraduate research experience with no results

  1. May 30, 2017 #1
    Should I include my no-result "research experience" into my personal statement for graduate physics school?

    My undergrad research experience is basely:

    1.) My professor suggested a field - dark matter - to me. (Back then, he was working on mostly earth science observations, so I did everything almost on my own)
    2.) I searched all the paper and information on my own. and read them. (Mostly I did not understand them)

    3.) I came up an educated idea: will dark matter form a black hole? given the impressive scale of black hole, we could possibly found some easier way to measure the existence of dark matter, perhaps?

    4.) But later with a sanity check, I have found my idea was almost 99% wrong: Considering Newton mechanics, and assuming a cloud of dark matter is a big sphere. Any other dark matter particles will simply do simple harmonic oscillation. The chance for them to meet right at the center to form a black hole is in the teeth of odds; hence practically, you can hardly "observe" dark matter black hole. **

    5.) For practical reasons, it was a dead end for me *** then I could just do the sort of studies report (the kind of representation about what I had learned... )

    ** I know there are some assumptions, but for simplicity's sake, I have just typed the very idea.

    *** a.) I was taking two major courses at that time b.) I had three months left for my undergrad research c.) I have some health issues.

    Should my personal statement include this result-free experience? I mean, sure, I learned something from it... but I don't want the committee under an impression that I am looking for excuses.

    Also, since I will be taking a gap year, not sure if I should continue the research, say, at least give it some try with programming?
    Last edited: May 30, 2017
  2. jcsd
  3. May 31, 2017 #2


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    I did an internship where they basically told us, that if we found the answer or got great results, then we'd probably become Nobel prize candidates. I'm not a graduate students and haven't applied, but I don't think it's about results... maybe more on the critical thinking skills and the work that you did; what did you learn?
  4. May 31, 2017 #3


    User Avatar

    I really wouldn't consider that a research project. You didn't do any original work, you just had an idea and then read more about it and found out it wouldn't work. You didn't do anything original that you mentioned here (made no measurements, did no unique math, wrote no code). You don't have to come up with something brand-new and exciting in physics to count it as official research, but you do need to do something other than read about what other people have done.
  5. May 31, 2017 #4

    I'm no professor, but I don't see why you shouldn't include it on the CV. You did some reading, you independently formulated a hypothesis, you made a simple model to test the hypothesis and you ended up falsifying the hypothesis. I think that's OK considering you're had no support from your supervisor, but if anybody read the CV and asks you about this, remain humble.
  6. Jun 1, 2017 #5
    Thanks everyone!
    Indeed, my problem is that I learn nothing technical. (merely a practice of scientific inquire. that's important, but I am not sure the committee of MIT, etc will care... they simply assume you have?)
    And in hindsight, I think I should have looked for my professor actively to discuss and ask more questions. (maybe that's the only thing I have learned? it sounds a bit sad ...)
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Have something to add?
Draft saved Draft deleted