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Like What is exactly meant by “research experience” in grad application? but situation-specific:

  • Between graduating master's in 2016 and applying now for PhD admissions for 2018-9, I started teaching maths at a branch of a company that is something like Kumon.

  • During this time, I looked up Google Sheets and SQL programming to learn on my own supplemented by my experience with Excel in master's and then created paperless spreadsheet templates.

  • I wasn't guided, instructed, requested or paid to do this, but I did improve processes at work.

Could said looking up then creation count as "research" ? If so, how? If not, why?

From other post:

As a rule of thumb, the more that what you did was something other people could not have done

Additional comments based on aforementioned:

  • Well I think what I did would've been pretty simple for a/an CS/Engineering/IT/ICT person but not just any employee in my company could've developed the paperless systems I made.

  • Also, the IT department in my company didn't for reasons I guess I'm not allowed to disclose.

  • Just called it "improved processes for streamlining research" or something to that effect. – TheDoctor Oct 30 '17 at 14:31
  • I did improve processes at work What is your company doing? Is it an R&D company? – scaaahu Nov 9 '17 at 5:00
  • @scaaahu Nothing like that. It's a competitor of Kumon. – Jack Bauer Nov 9 '17 at 5:05
  • What process did you improve? Did you add any new process steps so the students get better education? Or you just automated the process more? – scaaahu Nov 9 '17 at 5:14
  • @scaaahu 1. Just automated process/es but indirectly better education: I created soft copies of students' progress and records. To do this I "researched" (colloquial misuse to mean "looked up") Google Sheets, SQL, etc 2. (Oh hey I just realized my e-learning promotion was related to the automated processing. Thank you for helping me come to the realization!) 3. (One of my unrelated inquiries did get students to have better education. Oh wait I think that counts. Thank you!!) – Jack Bauer Nov 9 '17 at 5:22
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No. Research is working towards creating new knowledge (not just knowledge that you didn't have, knowledge that is genuinely new to experts in your field, too) that advances the state of the art in your field.

Programming/IT/engineering work is not research, unless it is undertaken to create new knowledge.

Examples:

  • Writing code to simulate a physical system, so as to answer questions about its behavior that have not been addressed yet, is part of doing research.
  • Writing code to implement a new kind of wireless communication system, so as to evaluate its performance, is part of doing research.
  • Writing code to help me organize my students' homework submissions is useful work, but it's not research.
  • What's new and what's not, what's useful and what's not, are hard to be differentiated I think. Does creating out of the box understandings with basic knowledge are considered research? – Ooker Nov 2 '17 at 3:34
  • Edited question. same answer? Thank you ff524 – Jack Bauer Nov 9 '17 at 4:52
  • 1
    @Jack Same answer. – ff524 Nov 9 '17 at 6:11

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