The Value of Group Projects for PhD Students
Tim Kovacs. 2007.
I think a lot of research experience can be had from group projects
for relatively little effort. Here are my notes from a presentation to
the Machine Learning and Biological Computation group on the subject.
Observations on the MLBC group
The group has a lot of expertise in different areas:
- Research skills (planning, reviewing, writing, presenting...)
- Many areas of machine learning, maths, logic...
- Tools: weka, eclipse, R, cvs, Prolog, LaTeX...
Problem: Interaction between members is limited
- We work in diverse areas
- There's nothing driving collaboration
- We're all busy
- Find areas of common interest
- Collaborate on group projects
- Research skills are hard to learn and hard to teach
- Best learned by doing...but doing a PhD is slow
- Can feel isolated, overwhelmed by size of project
- Smaller, faster research projects
- Group projects
- Learn from others
- Less time-consuming than doing it all yourself
- Alternative: supervise final year/MSc projects
- We select a project
- Participation is optional
- No minimum commitment (but do follow through on what you do commit to)
- Weekly meetings
- Can replace some regular group meetings
- Volunteer for tasks:
- Literature searches/reviews
- Giving tutorials and presentations to group, or updating rest of research group
- Coordinating project
Selecting a project
- Have broad interest
- Be fun e.g. robotics, games...
- Be incremental and parallelisable
- Have concrete goals e.g.
- Submit to a particular workshop
- Enter a competition
- Improve on an existing algorithm
- Produce some useful software
- Demonstrate a proof of concept