I've started researching in an interdisciplinary PhD with almost complete independence.
The problem is my background (computational engineering) is way different from the main theme of my current project (brain research). Naturally, after I started, I tried to read as broadly as possible and not necessarily stick to my interest. Yet, the field is vast. The more I read, the more I feel like I'm merely discovering distant areas without being able to bridge them together.
It's not that I expect to understand things right away, but eight months have passed since I started, and yet, I feel I haven't learned much. More accurately, I often feel lost among some random papers.
How do you, the interdisciplinary researchers, manage to handle vivid thoughts like the following after reading papers outside of your comfortable field?
- "Cool, but I don't know how it could possibly help later on", or
- "I don't feel this really added anything to my knowledge"
Maybe important: Since my supervisors are engineers like me, I cannot get the correct question to work on from them -- I have tried, but it didn't work. Instead, I have recently started to connect to researchers in other institutes we collaborate with. They are more into the topic, and I hope it gives a bit of direction to the research.