Lit Research: Research Journals and Conferences

There are a lot of academic/research conferences and journals out there. How do you pick one from such a large pool of good options? I’m glad that you asked because I’ve recently learned A LOT about the business of journal citations and its impact on research publications and conference selection processes. In short, citations are the new “currency” that fuels the academic research community. Not too unlike “likes” in social media, citations are a visual “applause” that tells the world how “important” your research is within your circle of researchers.

I used the term “business” deliberately. If you look at the “Metrics” tab for an IEEE citation, you’ll see three subsections — Usage, Citations and Online Sharing Activity. This type of quantitative citation and web analytics data was originally intended to inform the author(s) of the extent to which a research paper has been reviewed and/or referenced. That volume of citation information has now evolved to be used for so much more. In fact, research conferences and journals have helped build this growing repository of citation data into a profitable industry. Continue reading “Lit Research: Research Journals and Conferences”

Lit Research 101: Tools and Tips

So, what exactly is “literature research”? This is also referred to as “literature review” but (in my honest opinion) the word “review” just doesn’t do adequate justice to the level of searching, archiving, reading and note-taking that is involved. In short, lit research is a one-person quest to discover and review the full body of published, authoritative materials pertaining to a specific research area or topic. In previous eras, this meant spending hours in the stacks at the local library and if sufficiently dedicated, utilizing the inter-library loan to get your hands on the latest-and-greatest publications and journals. However, in today’s hyper-connected society, literature research involves a lot of web searches using software tools to help you mine the vast collections of research publications and related information freely available via the internet.

(here’s a good YT video if you’re interested in a more in-depth understanding of the lit review/research process)

If lit research seems like a tedious and odious ordeal, it is because it IS a tedious and odious ordeal! For the first leg of your journey to becoming a recognized expert on a given academic subject — and to produce some meaningful and original contribution to your field’s body of knowledge — you must first sit at the feet of the sages who paved the road before you. By “sit at their feet”, I mean you have to read their publications and understand their various approaches to solving your research topic or question. While the initial goal is to learn what has been accomplished in your chosen field of study, there is a second objective that you need to keep an eye out for as your pore over COUNTLESS papers and articles (notice that I didn’t say “books”): gaps or shortcomings in past research endeavors. These gaps may present opportunities for future research questions or topics. Continue reading “Lit Research 101: Tools and Tips”

Lit Research: Getting Started

If only literature research was just that! For the past couple of months, I have vacillated between reviewing IEEE whitepapers on topics related to my research interest areas and doubling back to my favorite MOOCs (massive open online courses such as to learn/re-learn stuff I knew COLD back in undergrad (e.g., differential calculus, trig functions, probability theory and even C programming!). Do forgive me — it’s been a couple of decades since I’ve found the derivative of a natural log!

My faculty advisor, Prof. Cho, recently offered some valuable tips for conducting my literature survey. My objective is to hit two birds with one well-placed stone: 1) enhance my knowledge of the subject domain; and 2) getting a read on what is “state of the art” on a particular research topic. Perhaps my objective is actually threefold: I also endeavor to identify pertinent research challenges and gaps to shape my search for potential research questions, technical approaches and candidate data sets. I find that I am constantly refining my search parameters as I iteratively factor the following constraints: my research interests, my advisor’s research interests, the technical domains (i.e., military mobile computing, IoT and wireless/cellular networks) in which I tread during my “day job” and the relative proximity from the “application/software layer” (I can talk like an EE but I am still a Comp Sci guy at my core). Also, I am trying to remember some sage advice I received many, many years ago — something like “don’t try to make your dissertation a masterpiece…the immediate goal is to graduate…there’ll be plenty of time to do something ‘great’ later”. Continue reading “Lit Research: Getting Started”