Research Method for Engineering Research Students – Part II: A Checklist for Reflective Self-assessment of the Research Work

//Research Method for Engineering Research Students – Part II: A Checklist for Reflective Self-assessment of the Research Work

Research Method for Engineering Research Students – Part II: A Checklist for Reflective Self-assessment of the Research Work

Author:   Sanjay Goel, http://in.linkedin.com/in/sgoel ___________________________________________
This checklist can be progressively used by the research students, especially in engineering disciplines, to carry out a reflectively assessment of their research work. Different elements of this checklist can help them to find the potential gaps in their work and opportunities of further improvement. I am highly thankful to Dr. Mukul K. Sinha, my guru for the last 23 years, to have helped me experience most of these elements. I am also thankful to Harkesh Singh Dagar, for numerous discussions on various issues related to engineering in the last seven years. I invite the learned community of researchers and professional engineers to suggest further improvements to this checklist. ______________________________________ A. Reflecting upon your research/project problem 1. What problem have you tried to solve? 2. What is your motivation for taking this problem? 3. Why is this problem significant? a. Have you validated the significance of the problem through external feedback from diverse sources – domain experts, potential users, peer community? 4. Have you checked the feasibility issues? a. Do you have any prior experience with this or similar problem or underlying domain? b. In case of multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary problems that require engineering R&D wrt some other application domain, are the application domain related aspects of the problem sufficiently documented and understood? c. Have you considered the availability of required resources, domain expertise, and permissions? 5. Have you considered the alternate decomposition strategies for your problem? a. What functionality will you consider to allocate to hardware, software, and human element? Justify your partitioning? 6. Is there any novelty in your problem identification and/or formulation? 7. Have you surveyed and critiqued existing approaches for solving this problem? B. Reflecting upon your Literature Review Please see the first article in this series – Research Method for Engineering Research Students – Part I: A Checklist for Literature Review C. Reflecting upon your solution, results, and future scope 1. Did you identify the causes of the problem? 2. How did you do constrain the problem? a. What is the need to constrain the problem in this manner? 3. What is your solution? a. What alternate strategies did you consider? What is your justification selecting your strategy? b. Have you considered the alternate decomposition strategies for your solution? 4. What are the main results? 5. How reliable are your results? Have you validated your results and claims? a. Analytically i. Have you checked the theoretical consistency? b. Empirically i. Did you collect enough size and variety of data? ii. Are you confident about the accuracy and reliability of your data collection method? iii. Did you collect data from multiple sources? 6. Is your solution novel in terms of: a. Applying a theory/approach known within a specific discipline in a new context within the specific discipline of engineering b. Applying a theory/approach known (outside the specific discipline of engineering) within a specific discipline in a new context c. Theory enhancement/integration/building about some aspects of engineering: theory, application, or education of engineering activities – planning, design, realization, evaluation, and client interface activities, and also some ubiquitous and over-arching activities? For example, wrt software engineering, for a detailed catalogue of software development related activities, interested readers may refer Software Development Activities: A Catalogue of Technical and Technically Oriented Activities. The other disciplines of engineering also have similar activities. d. Providing a new framework or paradigm for thinking about some aspects of engineering (as indicated in ‘c’ above). 7. Compare your solution approach with other existing approaches- a. In what way is your solution approach better/different than other existing approaches? Consider multiple dimensions – i. Time/ resource/energy requirement ii. Wastages and/or pollution iii. Performance efficiency iv. Consistency, completeness, generality, scalability, open-endedness v. Reliability, elegance, usability, maintainability vi. Safety, health, dignity b. What are main shortcomings/limitations/weaknesses of your approach? Consider multiple dimensions – i. Time/ resource/energy requirement ii. Wastages and/or pollution iii. Performance efficiency iv. Consistency, completeness, generality, scalability, open-endedness v. Reliability, elegance, usability, maintainability vi. Safety, health, dignity 8. List the problem statements for future research/projects as extension or improvisation of your research. a. What kind of new inter-project collaboration possibilities can you now propose with any of the other ongoing research/projects within your department? D. Reflecting upon your research method 1. What were the main steps in your research methods? 2. What were the main challenges? a. How did you address these challenges? 3. What was the task division among group members, if any? 4. Did you cooperate/collaborate with any other project group? How? 5. What did you do to get external feedback from (potential) users and others? a. How did your revise your solution in order to respond to the feedback? 6. What mistakes did you make with respect to your research method? 7. If you were to start again, how would you modify the method? E. Reflecting upon your report writing 1. In the thesis/report, have you clearly explained the problem domain and research questions, significance of the problem, motivation, critical review of existing literature, theoretical and empirical background, constraints, solution approach, research method, design of experiment, data collection method, data analysis method, results, comparative evaluation with existing approaches, inferences, theoretical contribution, conclusions, and summary. 2. Did you take care not to copy the material from elsewhere without paraphrasing/ quoting and appropriate citation? 3. Is the material structured, presented, and interlinked properly? a. Have you structured the text into cohesive and consistent chunks at multiple levels of text hierarchy – chapters/annexures/appendices, sections, subsections, paragraphs? i. Were tedious details organized in annexures and/or appendices? ii. Have you labeled long pieces of text, graphics, tables, and equations? b. Are the key ideas summarized in a chapter, and also at the end of sections and chapters? c. Have you given a glossary of key terms? d. Does the thesis/report title and abstract convey the essence of problem and solution approach? e. Is the presentation of the material sequenced in the logical order? i. Were the inferences drawn logical and supportive? ii. Were floating objects like table and figures collocated with the relevant text? f. Have you given backward and forward internal inter-linkages between scattered but closely related material? g. Are the table of contents, list of figures, list of tables consistent with the main body of the material? 4. Have you exploited the opportunities of non-textual representations? a. Have you exploited the opportunities of graphical representation in the form of figures, tables, charts, concept maps, etc? b. Have you considered representation of key ideas as mathematical models? c. Are the textual, graphical, and mathematical representations consistent in terms of presentation, terminology, typography and layout? d. Have appropriate typographic convention been used for inline and displayed mathematical material? 5. Have you taken care of spelling, grammar, and punctuation? 6. Are the references as per the format, and cited? F. Reflecting upon your learning 1. What new things did you learn through your engagement in this research/project? 2. What technical and other professional competencies have you been able to strengthen by your engagement in this research/project? How?

2017-02-16T06:27:40+00:00 April 16th, 2012|Research Blog|0 Comments

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