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Writing papers for sake of writing papers…!! September 13, 2006

Posted by gantech in Personal thoughts.
1 comment so far

While I was at IITB, I had this wonderful opportunity of attending a lecture/discussion on Report writing. This was organized by the Research Students Association there. So it was basically meant to guide them on how to write papers and the multitude of reports that they would be writing during their stay at IITB. Well if you thought I was going to tell what I learnt there, here, you’re wrong. I actually picked an interesting point there.

 According to one prof there (a fairly young prof) a “Paper” is an expression of how thoughts flowed during your research. (The two profs involved were Dr.Swati Patankar (Bio Sciences) and Dr. Gadre (Elec) )

 Any good paper (“good” in that prof’s terms) has the following stucture.

1. What is the broader setting in which this piece of research is done. i.e what is it’s application ??

2. Work already done in that field.. blah blah blah.. giving references to what has already been done in that area.

3. Intro to your work.

4. The detailed description of your work.

5. Discussions on the results that you obtained.

6. And probable Off shoots from here. What more can be done. Or what is the next step in your research plan.

7. Full list of references.

According to the prof, this is the way the thought process flows while doing research. So .. anybody who writes a paper in this manner, should have done a fair job at research. Now comes my question !!

Suppose my only aim is to write papers, will that automatically ensure that I do a good job at it ? If the prof’s views are correct, then I guess it should be so. There are obvisouly some assumptions. Bad papers get rejected !! So if you write a good paper and it gets published, you have done a good job at it. Even if you weren’t interested in doing it in the first place. I was actually of the view that such a thing can’t be done. But seeing the enthu of people around me to get papers published, irrespective of whether they know something in that field or not, or are interested or not, I get the feeling that work without interest (and sometimes even knowledge) is possible after all. Our seniors app files go to the extent of saying that “

Don’t apply for a Ph.D without publishing a paper, even if it’s a conference held in Tarams !!

(btw, Taramani is a small town right behind our institute.) It definitely does not seem restricted to doing boring courses in your department just because the Institute Senate has told that such and such courses need to be done in order to get your B.Tech degree !! Infact when I met my Prof at Bombay for the first time to discuss what I was going to do there for the next 2 months, one among the questions that he asked me was “Do you want to publish a paper ??” I was totally taken aback. He seems to have been pretty much used to this and has adapted his way to using the students enthu to get his job done. Atleast that’s how it looks.

Now this thinking can be extended in many possible directions. Many of my friends just want to get a Co-ordship in Shaastra/Saarang… and say that they’ll do this FOR Shaastra blah blah.. !! So they aren’t interested in doing it, but for that Shaastra brand value (actually who cares about Shaastra!! It’s the brand value of the Shaastra Co-ordship that he/she gets that matters !) This seems to be the case more often than not.

So there are 2 ways of doing things.

1. Develop all the required technical expertise in a particular area. Then go ahead and do something with the expertise you’ve just acquired.

2. Set out to do something.. (hardly matters if you’re interested or not).. and learn all the required expertise along the way. Finsh it and then totally forget about it.. (Ofcourse you do retain some badge saying you did it.. that’s a paper in the academic case…and not to forget the Shaastra Co-ord certificate or badge in the other case !!)

I personally seem to prefer Route 1. Though it cannot stand on it’s own (there’s always some part of 2 that’s required.. atleast for motivation. !!)

What do you ??

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