132

Why was the theory wrong? "It didn't work" is not the end -- the end is knowing why it didn't work. There are at least two possible answers: There is some fundamental, obvious mistake at the core of the model that should have been caught a long time ago. In this case, it may be a matter of starting over. It's difficult to produce a paper/thesis if the story ...


106

We depended on libraries and librarians. Grad students would spend hours in, say, the math section of a good academic library, going from book to book and taking copious notes (on paper, of course). But, often enough, the next paper we needed to look at wasn't in that library at all, so you would go to the librarian and ask for a loan of the resource from ...


89

Having worked with master's students in an applied research lab, I am fairly confident that you are not expected to come up with a solution that will dramatically change the production process and lead to great profits. Your stipend is not contingent on your work delivering monetary returns; research doesn't work like that. You are engaged by them to apply ...


81

I can tell you from the perspective of a person who was on hiring committees that these kinds of ethical indiscretions are easy to spot and are not well received. To the point, we rejected several applicants because we suspected they weren’t sufficiently independent after graduation as they weren’t lead authors on enough publications. First of all, word ...


73

First, learn something about Imposter Syndrome. This sounds like a classic case of it. You have been a success already. Your advisor, I assume, had no doubts about your ability. So try to just ignore the "feelings" and keep on doing what you do. Success comes from hard work, not from feeling like you are capable of it. Your feelings might well change as ...


68

I work in a biomedical field and most of us are awful programmers. We tend to be more interested in getting the underlying back-end algorithm to work than worrying about the front-end, comments, documentation, version control, unit tests, etc. My suggestion, would be to look through the web pages at a nearby university and see if you can identify someone ...


61

The situation is sub-optimal, but not as bad as you seem to think. Remember that being an editor to a scientific journal, even one published by Elsevier, is often a volunteer job. Moreover, the editors have no control over how long the reviewers take to review your article. (which reminds me...) So what they gave you was only a guess. If the guess was wrong, ...


60

Your work has not been in vain. What you have shown to the company are those methods which don't offer improvement, now, they can continue looking at other methods. While you have had a limited time to look at a few methods, you should write those up and then consider suggesting other avenues that they could continue after you finish. That should sort your ...


59

Only my personal experience, but I hope it will help you a little bit: I am almost in the exact situation you describe in your question. I finished my PhD in Algebra (coding theory, lot's of linear algebra and representation theory) and am now working as a software developer. As a fun fact, this wasn't always planned. When I started my PhD, I was still ...


51

I would ask about having a co-supervisor. Having access to esteemed DL researchers is great -- but they will have limited time/interest in helping you if you are not "formally" their student. If you manage to find someone in this role, I think your position is just about perfect. If you don't manage to find someone in this role, I have three main concerns: ...


50

One point that the other answers have passed over is that there were various services the libraries subscribed to which surveyed the literature and provided abstracts and cross indexing of the primary journals. Science Citation Index was mentioned in a comment, but there was also Science Abstracts, which had been published since 1898. These were hefty print ...


50

In the US, 99% of long-term positions that involve being paid to do research in pure math are tenure track faculty positions, colloquially known as professorships (in the US, they follow the progression Assistant Professor -> Associate Professor -> Professor). A professor is paid to teach, do research, and to a lesser extent, to do a variety of other vaguely ...


50

Actually, the competition is largely in your head, not in academia itself. I'll never be able to win a stage of le Tour de France, so why should I ride a bicycle? I'll never win the final at Wimbledon, so why should I play tennis? Of course, there are extremely competitive corners in academia. If you are in a "hot" research area where many many people ...


48

These "mistakes" are perfectly normal learning experiences for a PhD student. Feeling resent and self-loathing are not normal. I suggest you discuss that with a professional counselor. It's not your job to tell your supervisor to work faster.


48

On more than one occasion, a student has pointed out a resource to me that I am already familiar with. In those situations, I always thank the student but don't always mention that I was familiar with it. I don't lie and say that I hadn't seen it before, but see no reason to bring it up (since doing so might make them feel slightly disappointed). If it is ...


46

I can't say whether 10-12 hours per day is right for you, but caution you to consider your health. If it suffers, then everything will suffer. But "intelligence" alone is overrated. The path to Intelligence, actually, runs through Hard Work. I once got the results of an IQ test (I hope they don't do this any more). The printed results said that I was a ...


44

I think your situation is not unique. If you look around academia.SE (as user2768 suggested, search for "impostor syndrome"), you will find that many PhD students have the same feeling about their work or their career path. See How should I deal with discouragement as a graduate student? for example. I hope this gives you some comfort -- sometimes it helps ...


44

Perhaps the best route is to split the difference. Note the concern of one professor, but take heart from the support of your advisor. There are a lot of possible explanations. Perhaps the professor making the comment is overlooking some aspects that are harder than they think. Some things that look easy from the outside are harder when you get into the ...


44

Research isn't about taking a statement and proving that it is true. That would assume that it is, in fact, true without the research being done. Research is about determining if something is true or not. But there are two possibilities here. One, which occurs in statistical studies, is a result that shows insufficient evidence that the theory is true. ...


43

Do not despair: your work likely still has value! In my experience, it's almost never the case that work addressing the same problem has exactly the same solution or exactly the same approach to gathering evidence. Existence of a previous publication will thus typically make your results smaller and more incremental, but not invalid or duplicative. Some ...


39

A single point of feedback says nothing about your future prospects. There are just too many possible sources of noise in the data. Maybe the professor had a paper rejected, or a scoop of his favorite ice cream dropped from the cone just before your talk. If the same feedback would arise repeatedly, that might be an issue.


37

PhDs in the UK include few or no formal classes, they are entirely research based. Most topics studied at PhD are too advanced to be studied at undergraduate, and most people don't do masters degree before doing PhDs. Thus almost no UK PhDs have taken classes in the formal theoretical underpinning in the topic of their PhD. For most things I have studied ...


36

Just tell her, mistakes happen. Dear Prof. OutOfCountry, thank you very much for your comments and review, but it seems that you reviewed an older revision of the document. Find the latest revision attached. As you can see, most of your points are already addressed in this revision, as well as the following major changes: [...] Regards,...


35

Fraudulant "collaboration" is caused by perverse incentives One of the main things that contributes to this problem, in my opinion, is having ridiculous anachronistic academic and citation metrics that do not adjust for authorship (e.g., the raw h-index). Ironically, there is a large and well-developed academic literature on metrics that adjust for ...


33

What are the important problems in my field?, how should I expect to get an answer to this. Is it by deeply diving into literature and finding loopholes that exist. And even if I do find something worth working upon, how do I know it's an important problem of the field or a trivial subset of some other large problem? I would interpret this statement not so ...


33

The typical time to get a decision from a math journal is about 10 months. To put this in perspective, I was recently asked to referee a long math paper and the editor said I can take four months. As such, it is a bit unusual to contact the journal after less than two months. However, don't wait forever. I once waited a year to contact the editor, and was ...


31

(Comment extended to post:) My impression is that part of the answer is "they didn't", or more precisely "they were only as good at it as their own knowledge and that of their communities". In particular, at least anecdotally, many things in mathematics were discovered in parallel for lack of easy communication and inter-visibility. [This is complementary ...


28

The answer, of course, is that it varies with each reader and with the specific needs of each reader. For many people, a skim is sufficient for most papers. The question is "does this seem reasonable" and if so, there may be little need to go into the details. This is especially true about proofs. If an overview of the proof suggests that the techniques ...


27

As the comments indicate it is quite common for researchers to cooperate, but the extent to which that happens differs a lot between sub-disciplines. However, I would argue that your analogy is false. Studying is all about acquiring existing knowledge or skills, while research is all about creating new information. What works well for one type of task does ...


27

I'm addressing just the first and what seems to be primary question: Is this professor's behavior ethical? and Would I be able to bring this as a complaint to a higher person in the department (since I have email evidence that he did not have knowledge of this data set prior to my informing him). Quite simply, no, I don't think your advisor violated any ...


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