Advice on Choosing Research Topics and Writing Technical ... research... · 10/7/2017 · Advice on…

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<ul><li><p>AdviceonChoosingResearchTopicsandWritingTechnicalPapers</p><p>(Adviceforstudentsandnewfaculty)</p><p>BruceE.LoganPenn State University</p><p>EngineeringEnergy&amp;EnvironmentalInstitute</p></li><li><p>2</p></li><li><p>3</p><p>Thebetterthetopicofyourresearch,theeasieritistopublish</p><p> Whenplanninganavenueofresearch,realizethatsometopicsarehotter(moreimportant?)thanothers.</p><p> Hottopicssellbetter(hopefullybecausetheyareneeded) Nano/bio/infotopics Newmaterials,energysources,etc.</p><p> Ifyouworkontraditionalareas,suchaswastewatertreatment,itwillbeverydifficulttogetgoodcitationnumbers (Therearejustnotthatmanypeopleinthefield,anditisnotwell</p><p>funded).</p></li><li><p>4</p><p>ImportantvsIncremental?Both!</p><p> Mappingexpeditions Whenyoumap/surveyanarea,youalwayscomebackwithdata. Suchstudiesareuseful!...Buttheyrarelyarebigdiscoveriesorhavea</p><p>bigimpact. MSprojectsgoodfornewresearchers,andaPhDstudentmighthave</p><p>someofthisespeciallywhenstartingout.</p><p> Huntingexpeditions Sometimesyoushouldgoafterthebearandignorethesquirrels Whenyoulandthebiggame,yougetabigreward Newdiscoveriesaremoreimportantthanbuildingonexisting</p><p>information,butitismuchriskier(youmaygohungry) PhDstudentsmusthavesome(notall!)ofthesetypesofhunting</p><p>investigations</p></li><li><p>TheLoganGroupplaybook(15pages,45people);Eachobjective/hypothesis=1paper</p></li><li><p>Theskillset Asyouplanyourtopics,thinkaboutyourexpertisearea. Distinguishyourselffromothersinthefieldyouarein; IntheUSA,westresssciencetopicswithinengineering</p><p>fields Findauniquenicheevenatyourownlab(ifpossible) Examples</p><p> Electrochemistry Catalysis Molecularbiology/tools</p><p> KnowwhatyourgoalisafteryourPhDIndustry?Academia?Consulting?Thiswillaffecthowyoudevelopyourskillset.</p></li><li><p>7</p><p>Goodtopicsandtitles</p><p> Avoiddescriptivelookseeresearchwhereyoujustvaryabunchofvariables.</p><p> Conducthypothesisdrivenresearch Badtitleexampleandreasons</p><p> Effectsofmaterialsonsolarpanelefficiency TheEffectsof,Analysisof,Comparisonofpapersareusually</p><p>lowimpact</p><p> Bettertitleexample Solarpanelsthatachieve50%conversionefficiencyusinglowcost,</p><p>nonpreciousmetalmaterials Makethetitlereflectthetopic</p></li><li><p>8</p><p>ChoosingtheJournal:Considerthemagazinereadership</p><p> Sciencevs Engineering Sciencetopicsgetmorereadersthanengineeringtopics Science societiesarelargerthanengineering societies</p><p> Magazinetype Sciencemagazine:mostlybigsciencetopics,suchasmedicine,geology,astronomy,physics,materials,etc.</p><p> Engineeringmagazines:justnotashighlycited,soifyouareanengineer,thatissomethingyouhavetogetusedto(oryouhavetodomorescience)</p></li><li><p>9</p><p>EnvironmentalScience&amp;Technologyjournal</p><p> Sciencepapers&gt;&gt;technologypapersinnumber</p><p> VeryfewengineeringpapersinES&amp;T VerydifficulttogetwatertreatmentorwastewaterorientedpublicationsinES&amp;T</p><p> Novelty/impact oftheworkisveryimportant</p></li><li><p>10</p><p>Science</p><p>Nature</p><p>PNAS</p><p>ES&amp;T </p><p>App. Environ. Micro.</p><p>App. Micro. Biotechnol. </p><p>J. Env. Eng., JPS</p><p>IJHE, Biores Technol</p><p>Fundamental breakthrough or discovery</p><p>New finding that is important, clear high impact </p><p>Work that improves our understanding of a process </p><p>Whatyouneedfordifferentjournals</p></li><li><p>EnvironmentalScience&amp;Technology(ES&amp;T) Manyjournalsnowrejectpaperswithoutreview</p><p> Examples:Science,PNAS,WaterResearch,ES&amp;Tothers ES&amp;Trejects2550%ofpaperswithoutexternalreview</p><p> SignificanceandrelevancearekeyfactorsatES&amp;T ES&amp;Teditorsareaskedtoconsiderforpublicationonlypapers</p><p>ofunusual significancetothediscipline.Submissionsthatdonotappearsufficientlynovelareusuallydeclinedwithoutreviewbecauseourexperienceisthattheydonotfarewellinthepeerreviewprocess.</p><p> Example Riseandfall(?)ofahottopicMicrobialFuelCells(MFCs)in</p><p>ES&amp;T 2004:FirstMFCpapernearlyrejected 20042008:LotsofMFCpapers..Ahottopic 2013:ManyMFCpapersarerejectedwithoutreview.More</p><p>difficulttobenovelinthisfieldnow(andrelevant)</p></li><li><p>12</p><p>Planningthepaperdothisevenbeforeyoudotheexperiments</p><p> Youdidntdoituntilyoupublishit Worktowardsaproductthatcanbepublished(nogapsinyourdata</p><p>andarguments) Targetajournalevenbeforeyoustart!</p><p> Dontwasteyourtimeonunimportantwork Askanimportantquestion! EstablishtheNEEDforthestudy!</p><p> Poseaspecificandtestablehypothesis Knowyouraudience</p><p> Know(andchoose)ajournal(andhaveabackup)</p><p> Workoutaplanforfirstandlastauthors,andinclusionofcoauthors</p></li><li><p>Planthepaperatthestart</p><p> ConstructaMockPaperratherthananoutline Mockpaper:Draftofthefindings,intheformofafewitems,andseveralfigures</p><p> Titles: Thetitlegivesthefirstclueonwhetheritishypothesisdrivenresearch</p><p> Avoiddescriptivelookseeresearchwhereyoujustvaryabunchofvariables.</p><p> Badtitles=Descriptivework Effectsofmaterialson TheEffectsof,Analysisof,Comparisonofpapersare</p><p>usuallylowimpact Bettertitles=Evolutionarywork</p><p> XXXthatachieveimprovedenergyefficiencyusinglowcost,nonpreciousmetals</p><p> Makethetitlereflecttheinnovationofthetopic</p></li><li><p>Mock paper title:States a hypothesis</p><p>What we think we know, and what the controversy is that motivated our research(3-4 points)</p><p>Examples of figures that we expect to produce and what they should show</p></li><li><p>15</p><p>The mock paper is a dynamic document </p><p>Modify it as the research progresses. </p><p>Put in actual figures as you get the data</p><p>Graphite Fiber Brush Anodes for Increased Power Production in Air-Cathode Microbial Fuel Cells</p><p>Add a new title</p></li><li><p>16</p><p>Eventually,youhavethefinalproduct</p><p>Published in 2007786 citations</p></li><li><p>17</p><p>Oncethepaperiswritten DoYOUthinkyouproducedqualitypieceofwork? Isthehypothesisclear? Decisivefinding?(andnotnegativefinding) Titleinformative? Abstractclear? IntroductionshortandrelevanttoDiscussion? Figureswelldone(symbolsizes,nottoocluttered,etc.)?Goodandclearfiguresconveygoodwork!</p></li><li><p>18</p><p>Majorrevisionsneeded Sometimesareviewermakesacommentbecausethey</p><p>wereconfusedbythewayyoupresenteditchangeittomakeitclearer.</p><p> Makechanges! Dontjustarguewiththereviewer. Trytomakeachangeforeachcomment(ifpossible)</p><p> Makeiteasyfortheeditorandreviewerstoevaluateyourchanges.</p><p> Foreachcomment: Restatethecomment, Provideareplytothereviewer Showwhatchangesweremadeasaresultofthereview</p></li><li><p>19</p><p>ExampleofareplytocommentsRestate exactly (!) the comment, and put in italics</p><p>Indent inch, then put in your reply, normal font (11 or 12 pt)</p><p>Put in a copy of your new text, in blue, in a smaller font (say 10 pt)</p></li><li><p>20</p><p>Afterrejection,dontbedejected Justbecauseapaperisrejected,doesntmeanyou</p><p>shouldgiveuponit. Notallreviewersarecreatedequal</p><p> Talkthepaperoverwithacolleaguewerethereviewersfair?</p><p> Reviewersoftenhelptoimprovetheprocess. Theycanfindflawsinyourlogicyoudidntnotice Theymaymakehelpfulsuggestionsforfuturework</p><p> Rejectedmanuscriptscanberesubmittedtothesamejournal,buttheyareoftennotsuccessfulinchangingthereviewersminds</p><p> Youshouldconsiderresubmittingtothesamejournalif: Thepointscanbeaddressed Youcananswerthequestionsraisedduringthereview</p></li><li><p>21</p><p>Rejectedmanuscripts Chooseanotherjournal.Didyouaimtoohigh? Consideryourreviewers.</p><p> Whensuggestingreviewers,suggestpeoplethatyouknowarelikelytogivegoodandfairreviewssomepeoplearejustneversatisfied.</p><p> Ifyoufeelyougotabadreviewandyouthinkyouknowwhothepersonis,thenjustrequesttheybeexcludedfromfurthersubmissions.</p><p> Alwaysmakesomechangestoapaperbeforeresubmittingelsewhere Likelythereisaslightlydifferentaudience Oneofthereasonsforrejectionmaybeyouwerenotconvincingin</p><p>yourpresentationofyourhypothesisorfindings.</p></li><li><p>22</p><p>Thepaperispublished! Congratulations!</p><p> Considerwhetheryourworkwasreadbyothers. Areyouwritingenoughbreakthroughpapers(basedon</p><p>huntingexpeditions)? Or,areyoupublishingtoomanymappingexpeditiontyperesults?</p><p> Ifnobodyreadsorcitesyourpapers Areyouokaywiththis? Isyourworklikeacriticallyacclaimedfilmthatnobodywenttosee?</p><p>Ifso,maybetimetoproducetheactionfilmwithspecialeffects? Doyouwanttomoveintonewareasofgreaterinterest?</p></li><li><p>Whynewresearchareas(notjusttopics)areimportant</p><p>23</p></li><li><p>Creativity</p></li><li><p>25</p><p>Howtobuildincreativeworkintoyourlife</p><p> Dontjustacquirefactsandinformationthinkaboutnewwaystolookataproblem.</p><p> Be more creative by taking risks... Trycrazyexperiments. Evolveanewfield onethatyouwillbecomeknownfor(vs.your</p><p>advisorsmainfield). Howtodothis? Workin3areas:</p><p> Continueintheareaoffundingforyourdissertationwork(keepsteady)</p><p> Findanewareabutalignedwithyourdissertationwork(evolution) Pursuecrazyidea(s)(mutation?)..thisistheMOSTFUN!</p></li><li><p>26</p><p>Dissertation: mass transfer to microbial aggregates and biofilms</p><p>Biofilm reactors (trickling filters)</p><p>Bacterial respiration with chlorate</p><p>Pollutant degradation in fungal bioreactors</p><p>Particle transport in the subsurface</p><p>Aggregation rates in sheared reactors</p><p>Hydrogen generation via fermentation</p><p>Microbial fuel cellsUsing atomic force microscopy to understand bioadhesion</p><p>Bacterial respiration with perchlorate</p><p>Effect of fluid environment on mass transfer to bacteria</p><p>Fractal coagulation (of aggregates)</p><p>Aggregate formation in the ocean</p><p>Research Topics the evolution of the Logan Lab</p></li><li><p>27</p><p>Hydrogen generation via fermentation</p><p>Microbial fuel cellsUsing atomic force microscopy to understand bioadhesion</p><p>Bacterial respiration with perchlorate</p><p>H2 in microbial electrolysis cells</p></li><li><p>28</p><p>Microbial fuel cells</p><p>Biofuel production (H2, CH4) in microbial </p><p>electrolysis cellsA new method for water desalination </p><p>?what is next?</p><p>Biotechnology based on electromicrobiology</p><p>H2 in microbial electrolysis cells</p><p>Reverse electrodialysis &amp; MFC technologies</p><p>Salinity Gradient Energy (SGE)</p><p>RED, CapMix, BatMix, HEx </p><p>Thermal Regenerative Batteries (TRBs) </p><p>(Heat Energy Electricity)</p><p>DesalinationConc flow cells, RO biofouling</p></li><li><p>29</p><p>AssessingPerformance Numbers:Variousapproachesusedbutnotonemethodsseemstoworkpeopletendtoknowwhothebestresearchersarewithoutthesefactors.</p><p> Totalnumberofcitations:Thiscanbeskewedbyoneortwopapers,butnotcommon</p><p> Totalnumberofpaperspublished:Doesnttellusifanyonereadthem</p><p> Hindex (Hirschindex): Definedasnumberofpaperscitedthatmanytimes Variesbyfields(biologyandphysics&gt;engineering) Difficulttogetdataonthisifyouhaveacommonname</p></li><li><p>30</p><p>Exampleofcitations establishedfieldTrickling filter OR Trickling filters</p><p># citations = &gt;5,600 (2000 2010)</p></li><li><p>31</p><p>ExampleofahotfieldMicrobial Fuel Cell OR Microbial Fuel Cells</p><p>OR bioelectrochemical systems OR MFC # citations = &gt;36,000 (2000 2011; 11/7/2011)</p></li><li><p>32</p><p>Longtermconsiderations</p><p> Yourpapersshouldbeawaytoteachpeoplenewthings.</p><p> Takestepstocontinuetowritebetterpapers.</p><p> Youcanalwayswriteabetterpaper socontinuetoimproveyourwritingstyle. Lookathowotherswriteandexaminetheirstyle</p><p> Formajournalclub/literaturereviewclass</p></li><li><p>Literaturereviewclass</p><p> Chooseanewtopiceachsemester(studentsshouldsuggestthese)</p><p> Professorchoosesthefirstpaper,andleadsonlythefirstdiscussion andthenattendsbutisasquietaspossible!</p><p> Studentschoosepapersinfollowingweeks,andtheyleaddiscussion(notinstruction).</p><p> Focusyourdiscussionon: Identifythemainhypothesis Dothedatasupportthestatements? Lookateachfigureanddiscusswhatissaysandifitisneededor</p><p>helpful. Arethereerrorsintables,figures,calculations?</p><p> Learntobecriticalofwhatyouread,anddontassumeitiscorrectbecauseitispublished!</p></li><li><p>34</p><p>Enjoywriting</p><p> Engineersoftenhatetowrite,butthiswillchangewithmoreexperienceandconfidence.</p><p> Learntowritewell,andenjoythefunthatcomesfrompeoplehavingreadyourpapers.</p><p> Goodpapersleadto: Rapidlyadvancingthefield Interestinthefield Andifyoureluckyspeakinginvitationsandopportunitiestodiscussyourwork</p></li><li><p>InSummary Chooseimportanttopics..Youonlyget4orso</p><p>duringyourPhD. Haveablendofhuntingandmappingexpedition</p><p>typeprojects Identifyaskillset Dontbeswayedbyjournalimpactfactorsthey</p><p>oftenrepresenttopicsmorethanquality</p><p> Thequalityofyourwork,asjudgedbyyourpeers,ismostimportant.</p><p>35</p></li><li><p>36</p><p>Questions?Discussion</p></li></ul>