From the answers to this question. We can clearly know that novelty is a basic requirement for a PhD degree.

Now, consider the following statements:

1) Is Goldbach conjecture true?

2) Is P = NP?

etc.,

All the questions have a lot of attention in that particular field and are not easy to get answers for them. But we cannot say it is impossible to get answers.

Suppose I'm a student and my PhD thesis should be novel. I am highly interested in solving one such question.

In this case, either my supervisor will forbid me in doing research on such question or there are more chances that I may not get PhD because of the sole reason of novelty.

Hence, to the best of my knowledge, either directly or indirectly, the PhD is narrowing down to the topics of recent origin, relatively easily publishable, less saturated etc.,

Isn't it true that the research question has been influenced by novelty aspect of PhD?

closed as unclear what you're asking by Dan Romik, corey979, scaaahu, Scientist, user2768 Dec 3 at 9:49

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    What do you intend to gain from this question? In your previous one, several answers and lots of comments stated what do the requirements of a PhD mean and what are they rooted in. In this one, it seems to me you are begging for someone to admit "yes, PhD is smothering the candidates creativity". Ok, yes; so what? If you are a genius that will prove the Riemann hypothesis during his PhD, you don't care about it - you'll get not only a PhD, but also tenure and several awards. If you fail, and no side-product will come out of your failure, you won't get a PhD, because... – corey979 Dec 3 at 8:58
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    ... <<"I've done research for 4 years but absolutely nothing worked; give me a PhD" is not enough>>. These are the rules, if you don't like them, don't go the path that is paved with them. It's like crossing on a red light - you get a ticket for it, you may disagree with it, but you have to pay it. This question simply looks like a grumble to me. – corey979 Dec 3 at 9:01
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    either my supervisor will forbid me in doing research on such question or there are more chances that I may not get PhD because of the sole reason of novelty. This is a false dichotomy. There are many novel topics besides solving famous and very hard problems. – henning Dec 3 at 10:05
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    @hanugm Perhaps it would help to narrow down your post to your actual question, then. Also, I would rephrase "novelty parameter", because it's not a word that's commonly used. – henning Dec 3 at 10:07
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    I think there is a major misunderstanding here. Those problems are not bad problems for a PhD student due to the requirement of novelty. They are bad problems due to the requirement of actually doing something rather than banging your head against a wall for a couple of years. – Tobias Kildetoft Dec 3 at 10:24

Well, it is slightly unlikely that a novel researcher will solve one of the very fundamental problems in their PhD.

But whilst working on a solution, you will most probably find different other intersting problems which are unsolved or novel an those can be published and can be the basis of a PhD thesis.

You will have to convince a supervisor that you

  • understood the problem well
  • have some novel ideas which have not been tried before

and with this you may find someone. But be prepared for an intense discussion. It hppens quite often that a student claims to have a solution for a very fundamental problem and after half an hour of discussion the idea is gone with the wind... A good supervisor wants to avoid such a situation during your PhD.

A research contribution doesn't have to be path-breaking to be novel. Incremental contributions count as novel, too. A PhD student is well-advised to set realistic aims and target an incremental contribution at first.

In this case, either my supervisor will forbid me in doing research on such question or there are more chances that I may not get PhD because of the sole reason of novelty.

Absolutely not. What your supervisor may ask you is if you have new ideas, methods or techniques to solve the issue. Plus, if the professor is working on that field, they may be the ones to suggest how to tackle the problem.

Hence, to the best of my knowledge, either directly or indirectly, the PhD is narrowing down to the topics of recent origin, relatively easily publishable, less saturated etc., isn't it true?

This is another problem. Publish or perish is an issue we are facing in academia, but good researchers try to study things that are interesting if not for the present, for a near future.

An additional thing I would like to add is that the two cases you used may not be the perfect examples here. There are many groups that are trying to tackle the problem from different angles at the moment. A PhD in this field would not be called "is P=NP?" but more "CSAT can be reduced to XPROB" (it is totally an example, XPROB is not even a real name and I also would never name a thesis like this). While these field may be saturated, if you have new ways to tackle the problem, or another algorithm that was not yet studied much, nobody will stop you.

Other things can be discouraged because not new. To give an example, in CS, developing a new tool per se it is not a contribution, it is "just" development. What your tool can achieve, find or if it offers something new can be, instead, a contribution.

Overall, while it may seem true that we are narrowing down problems so that they are more publishable, inventing the wheel twice (or trying the same technique multiple times) is not very smart and it is not the idea of academia.

Remember that these big unsolved problems you listed are not easy to solve. Realistically, no student is going to prove the big result. What they can get are partial results.

Here are some examples about the P=NP problem. You can see similar examples for Golbach's Conjecture. Proving one of these results can yield SCI papers, even though they don't decide the problem itself.

Can you (or your supervisor) think of some new method to attack these problems, or maybe prove a lesser result? If so, chances are you can go ahead.

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