I'm an undergraduate in CSE doing research this summer under the guidance of a professor. After an initial repeating of a previous experiment, I've been reading relevant research papers for three weeks. The program ends on August 3rd, so I have less than a month left. The professor hasn't said anything to me these past three weeks, and I don't really know what to do since this is my first time. He is rather busy.

On Friday (3 days ago), I emailed him some general ideas of a research direction (very informal, I don't think it was really a research topic proposal), and he responded: "Your ideas make lots of sense. Just go ahead". Is this an "ok"? I feel like he's upset (because of the word "just"), but I might be overthinking. Sorry kind of a stupid question, but this means I am free to continue (and that) he's not upset?

Thank you

  • 13
    The answer of JPDias seems right on the money. I wouldn't read anything into "just". Just do it. ;-)
    – Buffy
    Jul 9, 2018 at 18:08
  • 21
    Also phdcomics.com/comics/archive/phd072508s.gif
    – Yirkha
    Jul 9, 2018 at 23:27
  • 1
    You are probably overthinking it. I would send the same response if the topic/idea is sufficient to teach you research, if that is the intention. Also, he/she might think of your project as 'low priority' given other commitments; e.g., I'm required to supervise undergraduate students which I cannot pick and choose. Most of the time nothing useful comes out of these projects. So I tend not to place too much time on them. This means any topic that is 'reasonable' and not too hard for an undergraduate is 'ok'. Jul 10, 2018 at 2:47
  • Related-almost-duplicate: Why do academics frequently write very short email replies? Jul 10, 2018 at 7:21
  • Which discipline? en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CSE
    – Qsigma
    Jul 10, 2018 at 9:15

1 Answer 1


So, short answer, that's a yes. However, I think that he wants you to start exploring those ideas and get back to him with more content beyond of what you extract from those papers. Some proof-of-concept or similar.

  • 1
    I had mentioned a method+details with an objective and purpose based on many different papers I read. But I didn't specify algorithms or anything (like which classifier we would use). It should be ok for me to update him weekly(?) right? I will email a more formal outline next time. Thank you for the reply :)
    – chy00
    Jul 9, 2018 at 18:09
  • 12
    Don't just outline, actually do implement something and report your progress: what you implemented, what were the difficulties, what you learned, and what results you have so far. Jul 9, 2018 at 21:56
  • 1
    @chy00, that depends very much on the professor, her workload, and how much advance you are able to show each time. Personally I'd expect to see you (sort of a "I'm still alive" greeting) say each fortnight, perhaps sit down occasionally for a half hour or so to see how it is going or if you hit a snag or need to request extra resources.
    – vonbrand
    Jul 11, 2018 at 12:48

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