何毓琦的个人博客分享 http://blog.sciencenet.cn/u/何毓琦 哈佛(1961-2001) 清华(2001-date)

博文

More on "How to do Research"

已有 11965 次阅读 2007-5-21 08:49 |系统分类:教学心得

(For new reader and those who request 好友请求, please read my 公告栏 first)

More on Research (What I can and cannot do)

Dear Readers, Thank you all very much for your public
and private feedbacks and questions. However, I cannot
make individual replies. For otherwise, I’ll have no
time to do anything else. The purpose of my blog is
to provide some general information of use to readers,
particularly young students and science workers. It
was also the purpose for the little booklet I co-authored
for young science and technology workers mentioned in
my earlier blog article “On Language and Translation”.  
However, feedbacks are more than welcome. Based on
them, I can and will write future blog pieces to
address them generally. I plan to do this below to
answer in general terms some of the questions raised
by the readers.

When I first started teaching graduate school I always
thought the following to be rather unfair. Materials
I struggled with for weeks and sometime months until
I finally understood them. I then distilled the
important insights, carefully organized and clarified
the concepts, and taught them to my students in one
or two hours. In that sense they caught up with me
in a very short time what took me a long time to
learn. Now they are on an equal footing with me in
pushing forward the research. Isn’t this unfair?
But I soon learned that this is not the case. To
understand a lecture no matter how clearly it is
presented DOES NOT mean one has the same depth of
appreciation of the material as the lecturer. Without
reinforcement through hard work you will soon forget
what was taught. The only thing a good lecturer does
beside informing you is to steer you away from blind
alleys. It is like directions on a map or descriptions
in a travel book. You still will miss much of the
beauty of the road unless you travel the road yourself.
I cannot emphasize this point enough.
Thus, several of the questions I have been asked by
young students so far have already been addressed in
my articles perhaps not so directly. But the answers
are actually there. However, I do not blame you for
not noticing it. What I experienced in several decades
on the topic of research cannot be appreciated all
in one reading (this is exactly the phenomenon of
graduate teaching I mentioned above and about PhD
education I described earlier in the article “How
to do research?”). You should find occasions to read
my articles again and again. Some time in the
future, you may suddenly realize and remember what
I said and恍然大悟. Thus, I repeat:

THERE IS NO MAGIC FORMULA OR ROYAL ROAD TO LEARNING
BUT HARD FOCUSED WORK.

I perhaps over emphasized the role of the advisor
in my last article. Certainly, a good advisor is
very important in helping you to avoid blind alleys
and learning things the hard way. But you still
have to do the work yourself. Certainly, after
graduation you may or may not have a mentor always
there to point you in the right direction. This was
my own ph.d experience and after graduation. At the
risk of being immodest, I can honestly say that I
had no advisor and mentor to speak of during my career
(in the sense I spoke of here). However, I do actively
seek, listen, and reflect on people's advices, writings,
and opinions that always helped me and for which I am
grateful. Thus having an open mind and broad interests
outside your specialties are very useful (三 人 同 行
必 有 我 师)).  Learning new knowledge is one of the
great joy in life. My wife has jokingly said that on
my tombstone she will carve the epitaph: "He like to know  
. ." because she sometimes gets tired from my incessant
questioning of "why" and "how" on everything.

Finally, many students feel that the decisions
they make, such as studying electrical engineering
or computer science, choosing industry versus
academia are life-and-death decisions. One wrong
move and they will regret for the rest of their
lives 一失足千古恨. In America, this is certainly
not true. So long as you constantly practice
feedback of new information and making midcourse
correction when needed, you should do fine.
Things may be somewhat different in China. However,
with increasing globalization, and based on what
I know opportunities will present themselves. What
is not avoidable is competition and hard work unless
you have "Kwan-Xi 关系". But then no one said life
is fair.

Note added 5/11/2106: There is a nice Chinese summary of this and related article at http://blog.sciencenet.cn/home.php?mod=space&uid=535297&do=blog&id=636074  何毓琦院士教年轻人如何做科研 精选




http://blog.sciencenet.cn/blog-1565-2265.html

上一篇:How to do research
下一篇:New York Times Op-Ed article 5/23/07
收藏 分享 举报

2 柴玉辉 ydliu

该博文允许注册用户评论 请点击登录 评论 (11 个评论)

数据加载中...

Archiver|手机版|科学网 ( 京ICP备14006957 )

GMT+8, 2017-9-24 02:18

Powered by ScienceNet.cn

Copyright © 2007-2017 中国科学报社

返回顶部