The PhD Research Process
This course aims to develop skills in, and awareness of, research methods that are practiced by Ph.D. students in engineering. The course meets weekly, with a combination of lecture-style presentation, class discussion, and small group activities. The students complete several small assignments in preparation for class discussion, along with three major assignments related to their individual research topic: a background report, a research proposal (in a hybrid format based on graduate fellowship and small research grant applications), and a final presentation (emulating the UMich Mechanical Engineering Research Fundamentals Exam format). The course objectives are summarized below.
- Understand how and why research is a dynamic and challenging process—an intellectual adventure—requiring both structured and unstructured thinking.
- Teach basic methods for designing and implementing your individual graduate research program, aiming to:
- Improve your ability to analyze the literature and identify the important questions/needs related to your research theme.
- Improve your ability to define both short-term and long-term goals, and to manage your time effectively.
- Improve your writing and presentation skills.
- Emphasize how to build a constructive relationship with your advisor and research group.
- Emphasize good research practices and responsible conduct of research.
- Discuss the research landscape beyond the day-to-day life of a Ph.D. student, including the writing and evaluation of grant proposals, university administration, and commercialization.
Syllabus, Winter 2012 [pdf]
Lecture notes, Winter 2012
Copyright John Hart, for personal use only
|01||Defining "research"; learning styles||slides|
|02||Searching and analyzing the literature||slides|
|03||Choosing a research problem; creativity, invention, and innovation||slides|
|04||Planning and time management||slides|
|05||Advisor-student relations; mentorship and collaboration||slides|
|06||Responsible conduct of research||slides|
|07||Formulating and writing a proposal||slides|
|09||Graphics and visualizations||slides|
|10||Organizing, giving, and evaluating presentations||slides|
|11||Research administration and commercialization||slides|