I am currently a second-year undergraduate double-majoring in math and computer science. I am currently doing a joint research paper with one of the faculty in my university.
My advisor gave me research problem A. I thought about the problem for one week and managed to break problem A to sub-problems A₁, A₂, ..., An. Next, I started researching on A₁. After reading several papers, I found that an author had already solved problem A₁. I repeated this for A₂, ..., An and they have all been solved previously. Now I take the solutions for all of them, with proper citations of course, and piece them into a solution to my original problem. I write a paper and get it published.
Now here is my problem: I feel like a fraud. I have not personally solved any of the Ai. Heck, the only work I’ve done is to break down the problem, searched for solutions to the subproblems, and to combine other people’s solutions. Is this really what research is about? I really feel disheartened and want to know other people’s opinions. I feel like anybody can really do what I did.