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I would like know to what are some good/effective ways to showcase one's research capabilities, other than paper publications, when the person is out of academia and applying for schools in USA for MS(preferably MS by Thesis)

Specific to my case, I graduated 3 years ago and now I am out of academia. I do not have any paper publications. So I am looking for other good ways to show the admissions committee that I am capable of doing research. But how?

For eg., a personal website where I can list my technical essays (which are not worthy as to be published as a paper) mentioning methods I tried to improve an idea, or where I failed etc. List of research projects I did independently.

Basically I want to know how can I make myself a potential candidate for the MS by thesis programme(other than paper publications) being outside an academia and working independently.

  • I think you have answered your own question. – David Ketcheson Nov 5 '13 at 11:41
  • I was hoping if there are any other ways ;-) – avi Nov 6 '13 at 16:27
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If you are applying for graduate school, you need to show that you can do good research. More than the actual field of research, it's more important to show the ability to do good research. That being said, of course, doing research in the area in which you're applying shows that you are motivated and equipped to solve research problems in your field.

Here are some things you could try :

  1. Reach out to a professor in your alma mater (someone you've worked with during your undergraduate studies) - offer to be a voluntary research student. Work with the prof part time, if you have a full time job, otherwise volunteer to be a full time unpaid researcher. This doesn't mean you get a freebie research position, the prof still wants to know you can do quality work. Remember, the prof is also investing his/her time to coach you, and answer questions you (probably will) have during your voluntary research term. This, by far, is the best way I know of that you can do research outside of university.
  2. Get an IEEE membership, or use google scholar. Go through research papers in your field, and see if there are any interesting problems you can solve (there are millions of awesome problems yet to be solved :) You may think you're way in over your head, but that's how you learn. Once you have an interesting problem to solve, reach out to peers (senior students, or current graduate students you know) and professors (including potential professors you want to work with during your Masters) with your work. Remember, researchers are looking for talented and passionate people more than anything else - test scores and grades are just an indicator of that, but not the only indicators. So if a professor is genuinely interested in your work and convinced that you have potential, they will be interested.
  3. It's about passion, intensity and potential - less about content. At the risk of being repetitive, the work you do demonstrates how much potential and passion you have. Your work is not a means to an end - don't "do research" with the aim of getting into graduate school. Graduate school should be a natural continuation of what you are already passionate about doing.

Good luck with your future and applications.

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