Steps to Do Research

Step 1 Literature Review

Keep in mind that the essential point of research is to copy. People cannot establish the result based all on his/her own contribution. Innovation is to develop something INITIAL, hence people need to know what has been studied previously.

Part I
This is the most perplexed period. People enter a new area with only an idea, but do not know what the methodologies are.
  • Collect the classical literature as much as possible, mainly from books, unless the materials cannot be found in the books;
  • BROWSE through the literature rapidly to the previous work, e.g.,
    • What problem is to be tackled
    • What the system is
  • What assumptions are utilized
    • What method is presented
    • What the conclusions are
  • Find out what has not been studied yet

Skills in the part:

  • Browse books quickly,  follow what you have learned, go further step. People usually do not know whether one book is worthy to spend time on, hence it is advisable to read quickly until you can tell by yourself
  • Find the classical books. They are generally well-written
  • Filter out obsolete, badly-written  literature. Also filter out the unpromising direction and henceforth the relative literature
  • Do not try to learn theory from collections of conference papers
  • To find the books, Google the recommended Reading List
  • When the details seem hard to understand, just keep reading QUICKLY AND REPEATEDLY. It will be helpful to do some theoretical accumulation in the spare time

To summarize, the key point of this part is to save time.  Try to complete this part quickly, then you can be self-motivated henceforth

The main result to browse books is to learn what is the general methodologies that have been developed in this area.

Part II

After Part I is completed, collect as much as possible IEEE papers related, and then READ through some of them to learn what is the method to do research in this area. Then apply these specific technical skills to problem you are working with.

Keep in mind that the essential point of research is to copy。People cannot establish the result based all on his/her own contribution.

Step 2 Promising Subjects in the Direction

The second step is to find the promising subjects in the direction people want to work on. Note that people cannot expect too much knowledge in this place.

Skills in this part:

  • Afflatus is the key point in this part
  • To be in a creative and in-distractive environment is required. For example, to go to the park, e.g., in the forest, or along the quiet river, could be an attractive option

As long as the directions are found, people can be self-motivated, and go further step spontaneously.

Step 3 Details about the Research Plan

Quote from Dr. Zhu: “For each and every topic you plan to study, you need to write down clearly the following (1) background (2) literature survey (3) problem statement (4) objectives (5) proposed methodology (6) anticipated results, (7) significance of the new results.  All technical terms must be rigorously defined, equations, variables and parameters must be defined and type-written, prerequisite results presented to sufficient detail to allow the reader (I’m your reader, too) to understand you.  It is more productive to type them up now than later.

Part I Afflatus gestation

The afflatus can be gestated from analogizing the idea or methodology from current literature, and extend it to the new direction.

Part II Pieces of afflatus

Afflatus is not logically generated, hence to write down the valuable inspiration PIECE by PIECE is required.

Each piece of afflatus may include:

  • The title: include the direction and the main subject of this piece
  • Details of the piece
  • Reference: literature title and page


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