Pointers to Start Off Your Research Journey.

Chirath Hettiarachchi
Jan 13 · 4 min read
Photo by Kevin Ku from Pexels

Working on research is both challenging & interesting. Some find it really stimulating to work on these less explored novel areas to develop something unique which is more fascinating compared to conventional monotonous work. Here I would like to share some of my thoughts and experiences related to research which could provide some pointers to your early research career. (This article by no means provide guidance on higher educational aspect of Research which is beyond the level of my expertise.)

I started off my research journey through an idea I had for a startup, where I focused on developing an early disease prediction system (Clardia). This was a self-research project during my undergraduate period which taught me a lot. For all enthusiasts in research I believe this is the best way forward, to work on your own small project, which will give you great understanding on what is required and the obstacles ahead. And eventually once you feel lost you will understand the importance of Supervision.

Quality Supervision will save you a lot of time. The guidance of a knowledgeable, experienced researcher would be of great assistance to your project as they foresee most of the important aspects and constrains in the related area of work. A thorough Literature Review might provide you with all the necessary insights, but being practical working with a supervisor in the related field will be much more beneficial. For an example the research path that you may be following could lead to a dead end resulting in frustration and agony, which could have been minimized through the supervision of someone who have faced similar problems and have much experience.

My next set of experiences are from my Final Year Research project on Developing a Wearable Device to Predict Injury. This was more of a structured approach towards research where we worked for a period of 1 year. It is important to make sure that you select the correct project when you are given a specific Timeline. A thorough evaluation must be done based on the Feasibility of the research, the Objectives and whether it could be delivered within the required time frame. It’s always good to select a project with sufficient depth which you are able to complete. For an example a project where you develop a hardware device, collects your own data and provides analytics on top of it, would be a tedious task given the prototyping resource limitations of hardware, monetary, time and other limitations.

What is your Area of Interest? Once you start working on research projects you would have a clear sense on what areas you are actually interested in working on. Even though this may seem a simple question. It is not, the areas are so vast. The early research experiences would help you to understand what you really love, and once you achieve this, working won’t really feel like work, instead you would start enjoying the experience. You might even find your interests outside the course you currently undertake.

Currently I’m a MSc Research student, and I found it really enlightening to work with fellow Research Colleagues. Even though they aren’t necessarily working on the same areas of Research, there are so much to share and learn. This knowledge transfer actually improves the learning curve as it is really interesting to understand concepts in diverse verticals and maybe even try to incorporate them in your own research. Hence its really important and beneficial to actually work in a research lab and have those interactions to grow yourself and help each other.

These collaborations in research would also have a networking effect. Most postgraduate research opportunities focus on Recommendations, where it would be beneficial to be working with top researchers in the respective field. Working with esteemed supervisors would help you to come up with quality research. And it is always good to network with researchers overseas to ask for advice obtain their assistance when needed, building your Connections.

You can also focus on Publishing your research at good conferences, and experience the atmosphere of a conference where similar researchers around the world gather to share and discuss their research. This would be a great motivator towards more future research. It is also important to focus on Grants & Finances if you are focusing on pursuing a full-time research career, which might be a constraint in some cases. It is always good and recommended to work on projects with the necessary funding.

Finally, the beauty of research is that, it’s a continuous learning process where each day, it would be something fresh and challenging. Hence the importance of working on your area of interest and ensuring that it is a growing area with a lot of potential. If you are working on a rapidly growing area of research, the more research and the experience you gain, the more your value would increase, enabling you to make a positive change to the world. I hope this small introduction would encourage you towards the start of your research journey….