How do I as a solitary student with no guide and no research lab and limited access to research material and books perform research that is of good quality? The field I am interested in is AI, NLP, Generative Art and Artificial Life.

I know the single, simple answer is “Just Do It!”, but my undergraduate college had absolutely no focus on research and sadly, even my current post graduate course is turning out to be the same. Hence, I have zero experience of what it is to do research. Moreover, I’m from India, where Meet Ups, Research Groups, etc etc are virtually non-existent. Point is, assume that I’m really all alone.

I plan on applying for another Masters / Ph.D. after I am done with this one, but most admissions need “Research Experience”. So, I decided to do it on my own, with no mentor in sight. Any recommendations / work cycles / words of encouragement that you guys and gals can offer me?

PS: Is there any way I can find a mentor online?

I am currently pursuing a PhD in Biophysics at a pretty reputed program. I have a background in Physics and made the jump to Biophysics while applying for PhD programs hoping to focus on mathematical modelling. I’m currently working on a side-project that demands significant modelling efforts. However, my current advisers do not have much experience in this field. We naturally do not have any collaborators to provide us with experimental data to help me with the model.

In the process of working on this side project, I’ve been reading a lot of Non Linear Dynamics and am currently taking a course on the same. I’ve noticed that I appreciate these tools (mathematical and algorithmic) used in research more than the questions that my research asks. Lately I’ve been considering pursuing research in Non Linear Dynamics. At the same time I’ve lost interest in my current project mainly because my advisers or lab mates do not have any overlap with my work. There isn’t a potential lab in my program using non linear dynamics in their research, except for a few experimental groups. I have never enjoyed doing experiments in the past and am not keen on joining any of these groups.

I’m considering applying for a Master’s program (and quitting my PhD) with an emphasis on Non Linear Dynamics and Complex Systems to corroborate my knowledge of the field and get a better understanding of the topics I want to pursue in the future. I also hope to improve on my mathematical skills in the process.
The problem is, I’m currently 25. If I do apply for a Master’s program, I’d be starting my PhD by 28 and that would put me well behind my competitors for academic positions in this field in the future.
(i) Do I have a better option to pursue my interests (other than staying in academia in the long run)?

(ii) What are some programs that could help me make such transition?

(iii) Is it too late to make this change?

I’m in a unique situation. I do my investigations on my own. It means I’m not affiliated with any institutions and am not taking money from anyone. But it also means I have no one to turn to when I have my troubles and I need a guiding light. It means that instead of running to the advisor next door in some educational institution I have to rely on tracking, making contact and explaining my situation and problems to new people whom I meet primarily online.

I have my acquaintances in the universities of my home country and sometimes talk to them but they aren’t capable of supporting me. At least I have a link to the scientific search engines and can get the literature I need to continue the development of my interests. I have my dream of building enough materials for a PhD thesis and I have an university degree in science, but in order to turn it into reality I need contacts with people from other countries who can help with the questions the locals are unable to respond to. This is how I proceed for quite some time.

There is this person who may be able to help me but is also on the editorial board of a journal where I might have an actual chance to publish a paper. When I contact this person I’m not intending s/he to actually advice me how to publish in his/hers journal but the idea comes naturally as s/he seems to like what I’m working on and I have been searching for a place to publish for quite some time. I didn’t intended originally for this to happen but if s/he is indeed seeing something interesting in my work and is thinking the journal where s/he is editing may be the right place to publish should I deny this long awaited chance for me only because I have presented this research to its potential editor and now s/he may have agreed to help me format it in a way that will make it publishable at his/hers particular venue? Am I doing something morally wrong or unacceptable here?

The problem is this journal seems more like a friendly circle pamphlet than an actual academic research journal. It is peer reviewed (by its creators) and as far as I know it is indexed by at least scopus but its impact factor is something extremely low and it has very few papers published in it even on an yearly basis, so it is not exactly “guiding” the development of any field. My prime worry is that if my paper appears in this journal and I mention one of its editors in the acknowledgements as the person who helped me write my paper I fear this may have a negative feedback not only on myself but on the journal as whole. As I said it has very low impact factor and I think researchers (other than its editorial board) already regard it as somewhat dubious publication medium. And if now articles where the editors are acknowledged by some known-by-noone guy who claims to be a scientist but has neither a PhD, nor is affiliated to any university and comes from a non-Western country, start to appear, may be it will damage not only my non-existent reputation but also the reputation of the journal as a whole. Do my fears have any base in reality or am I thinking too much and blocking what is now my best chance of finally publishing my ideas? Are my fears real or am I shooting myself in the foot?

Does the previous contacts I have with the person who will potentially review my article constitute a conflict of interests between me and this journal?

P.S. I have thought of several ways to avoid the embarrassing situation but it seems nothing works. I thought of advising my article to be reviewed by some other editor but it seems like I know all the editors of this journal and they are all connected to each other by long years of friendship relationships, so they all know me and the person I’m talking about and what this research is about (it is quite unique, this is why it is something they just can’t take as someone else’s ideas), so whoever reviews it s/he will know who is helping me and what is this research about even before I submit my manuscript. As I told you the editorial board of this journal is extremely small (smaller than the number of the fingers on your hand) and they all know each other and I’m quite persistent “thorn in the foot”, so it is no secret for any of them who am I, what I am doing and who is helping me. I fear if this research goes through the “blind” review process the only “blind” thing that will remain s the number of people I would have to include in the acknowledgements, not the material itself. On the other hand, however, I feel like I need these people’s help because I haven’t been able to master my writing style on my own and they may be my only chance to actually get some professional help and finally format a descent publication. Should I be blowing away my best chance now because of fears I’m breaking the rules of the peer-review process? What steps should I take to keep it? Should I abandon my publication there because I have already made contacts with the editors and told them what would my paper be about and they had agreed here id the right place for it and now the only thing that remains is only to format it properly and fix my writing style so it can go online? Would this actually harm the journal’s reputation?

I have also considered proposing the editor to make a joint paper with his/hers name after mine, but the reply I got was it was my work here and I did the job, not him/her, so it would be unfair to prescribe him/her with such credits. Only a place in the acknowledgements will suffice. I feel like I may be doing something wrong here but am I? I have no publications and I have always been rejected due to various reasons up to now, so, I wonder what am I getting myself into, but see no other options left but to either agree with their advice an make the corrections they want to submit my article in their journal or to give up completely and search for other place to publish (may be some day in the distant future). What should I do?

I’m really wondering am I “screwing” the peer review system with what I’m doing?

Context: I am an assistant professor of mathematics at a small liberal arts college in the US.

I generally find student questions during tests and quizzes to be somewhat annoying. I disliked them when I was a student, and they’re even worse as an instructor.

To elaborate on my dislike:

As a student I found such questioning very distracting. I’d be in the midst of trying to solve a difficult problem when suddenly people around me are talking in hushed voices about a problem I had already done. As one can imagine, it was challenging to pull my attention back to what I was doing.

As an instructor, I want to do my best to provide a good test environment, so I would like to minimize questions that I see mostly as a distraction. In addition, most courses contain a student or two who I don’t entirely trust, so I like to be able to watch the students during the exam to ensure test security, and answering questions can hinder that. I also don’t want students getting up during a test to ask questions, for obvious security-related reasons. (This problem is easily solved by telling them to raise their hand.)

Most questions fall into the following categories:

  1. Legitimate questions aiming to clarify vague instructions or a typo.
  2. Questions fishing for a hint.
  3. Questions seeking support of a solution method.
  4. Questions asking about the format of an answer.

Type 1 questions are not a problem. Type 2 and 3 questions are foolish, because I hardly ever tell students anything remotely useful. Type 4 questions are irritating, because my questions specifically say what format to use (i.e. “show two decimal places,” “you do not need to simplify,” etc.).

What are some strategies for eliminating questions of type 2, 3, and 4 while not discouraging type 1 questions?

Of course, I can just straight-up tell them that they’re not to ask questions unless they believe them to be very legitimate, but I’d like to use a less “adversarial” approach, if possible.

Peer-review is an important part of decision-making in academia. Journal reviewers do not get paid.

BUT funding agencies pay for the same peer-review (of research proposals). OR universities pay the external referees for reviewing PhD dissertations.

My question is: if peer-review is voluntary and a professional duty, why isn’t it the case in other reviewing processes?

First off apologies if this is in the wrong section, I’m new to this site. I had a few questions regarding graduate school admissions, so I figured this would be the right place to ask.

Basically I’m in a dilemma. I’m currently wrapping up my bachelor in mathematics this semester, and was considering applying for schools this year. However my advisor recommended that if I want to get into a top 15 institution I should finish a masters first due to our school being relatively unknown. I have already taken his advice and started my masters in mathematics, and I should have that complete by next year’s application cycle. Now my question is will the masters make that big of a difference with regards to my application, or would I have been better off just applying to mid-tier schools this time around and save the tuition money/time?

The rest of my application looks roughly like this (so far at least):

Math B.A., Chemistry B.A., Math M.A.

UG GPA: 3.6 overall, 3.95 in math,

Grad GPA: 3.8 (so far)

I have done two research projects, one of which is in the works of getting published the other is ongoing and quite extensive in numerical analysis.

GRE/Subject GRE – Have yet to take, will do so soon.

Recommendation Letters: Two professors with degrees from top 15 schools, one of which I have taken many courses with and done research with. Also the chair of the department.

Thank you, and once again sorry if this is in the wrong section.

Flipping through some example GRE questions, I found one that described some set containing positive integers less than some specified integer. After mindlessly doing the problem, I realized that by serendipity I’d get the correct answer by interpreting the word ‘positive’ as ‘strictly positive’ ({1, 2, …}) as well as just ‘positive’ ({0, 1, 2, …}).

While I’m inclined to assume that ‘positive’ just means ‘positive’, I’ve not found any documentation definitively clarifying the GRE’s word use. Does ‘positive’ mean ‘positive’ or ‘strictly positive’ in ETS-tongue?