I am dividing the question in to two parts.

I will first tell about my experiences, (in this first part of my question), at different levels of my academics and the reason for selection of a particular path.

I generally use to spend very less time on studying during all my courses after schooling. Even if I spend time, I use to understand the subject in a (faulty) way I use to understand. After hearing lectures from some universities online, I aced many exams and my colleagues didn't able to achieve it because of the reason that they use to spend time on the lectures by my own college professors. But, it is not due to improvement from my side. I can say that it happened alone due to the way of teaching by online professors. Later, when I joined research, I realized that the way I learn the subjects is not good. I use to remember concepts, formulae etc., with out going to the deep intuition, Now, I think I know the way of learning things. I know atleast the fact that subject should be experienced by me. Complex facts of a subject has underlying simple intuition. But getting the complete intuition from the textbook is not easy. It may take a lot of time, interest, patience. Currently, I am spending the time and studying on my own. And I can experience the change in my life. I am confident about my future (life).

In this second part, I will tell about the issue I am facing

Since I am into research course, my mentor asks for research progress once in a while. Initially I use to say that I am spending time in understanding fundamentals properly. But over time, mentor is not accepting the answer and hence I am stopped saying that. But, secretly doing the same. When mentor asks about progress, I use to manage things. Since I am becoming strong at fundamentals, I am personally happy. But I cannot able to concentrate on the research task in parallel. Because when I start studying a research paper, I came to know about my issues in fundamentals and stop studying papers till I am perfectly okay with fundamentals. And I think it may take atleast six more months to complete all the fundamentals required for my research work (as per expert suggestions in my domain). I am thinking that although my research progress is zero now, it will boost up in future. But many times, I heard from mentors of different colleagues that writing papers, communicating research with journals, conferences is important. I have atleast couple of years from now. Most of the other students got few papers published in journals, conferences etc., I am no where in that. Didn't even study research papers.

Am I wasting my research time?

  • 5
    I think what you are describing is perfectly normal. I do that too for any new areas. For every new concept I encounter, I need to read up on the concept. However, it's important to learn how deep you should go. Many papers only require a working knowledge; e.g., let's say I need a theorem/lemma to establish some other results. I don't necessarily need to understand its proof. I just focus on constructing my own proof. Basically, for a given concept, I extract only the necessary info that allows me to 'follow' a paper. Oct 8 '20 at 4:09
  • 4
    Also it is important to read a paper with purpose. If you are only reading for the hypothesis of a paper, there is no point to read the entire paper - in my area, you will encounter many solution approaches -- each one will probably take 6 months to learn. so it's impossible to read every paper fully. Oct 8 '20 at 4:12

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