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On Research #8 - How to formulate a research problem 精选

已有 14311 次阅读 2007-10-6 06:07 |系统分类:科研笔记

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下面有中文翻譯
 
I have been having a series of brainstorming sessions with Tsinghua graduate students trying to formulation different problems for them to solve. As I have said before, Face-to-face interactions are absolutely necessary in the problem formulation stage. After you have a well posed problem, e-mail communications and interactions can be very efficient and effective. In the extreme case, you can even hired an specialist to solve the well posed problem for you。
 
Here below is a short summary I pass out to them for consideration.
 
On Formulating A Problem For Research
 
By
 
Y.C. Ho
 
Almost all our education through undergraduate university emphasizing solving problems and exercises already formulated using the tools taught in textbooks and classes. But research represents a different endeavor. In research one is venturing into unknown territory. This is particularly true if the topics and problem areas have not been previously explored by others. While working within an established framework extending the results of others also constitutes valid research. You are mostly engaged in incremental addition of new knowledge. It is the investigation of totally unexplored area that is mostly likely to yield breakthrough and significant advances.
 
One of the most important tasks of research into new areas is the proper formulation of problems. By formulation I mean the task of transforming vague notions and ideas into a conceptually well-defined problem. Here one needs to be able 
1. to decide what is the conceptual framework or the big picture one is trying to capture
 
2. to separate details from the major features one is trying to capture
 
3. to be patient and not seek an answer to any problem too quickly. This is particularly important since we have been conditioned to give answers rather than asking questions
 
4. to understand what is a well posed problem or a well-defined question versus vaguely worded and/or inarticulate questions.
 
Unfortunately, there are no ready formuli or algorithm one can follow to accomplish the above. One must learn from experience.
 
The main task of a PhD advisor is to teach the above to a student by the Socrates method of question-and-answer give-and-take dialogue through examples. A student tries to formulate a problem and defends his formulation to his advisor. The advisor tries to point out the weakness or sloppiness of the student’s presentation.
 
During this stage, the appropriateness of the problem is less important than the “well-posed” ness. It is only after a problem is well posed can refinements be made to render the problem more significant. To this end, point #3 above is worth repeating.
 
教育与研究随笔(八)
 
如何设计研究课题
 
最近我和我带的清华研究生一齐开了几个绞尽脑汁的热烈讨论会,希望找到各种适合他们研究的课题。正如我之前所说的,面对面的交流在课题设计这个阶段是绝对有必要的。一旦课题设计完毕,电子邮件等其它交流方式就不但可以大大提高效率,而且效果很好。在某些极端情况下,你甚至可以雇用专家来为你解决设计好的课题。
 
以下是我让他们参考的一个简短总结。
 
几乎所有的大学本科教育强调的都是如何利用课本和课堂上教授的方法来解决已经提出的问题和习题。但是科学研究则完全是另外一回事。做研究时,我们会进入未知的领域,特别是如果你面对的课题和领域是前人从未涉足过的。尽管在已有的框架里拓展他人的工作也未尝不可算做搞研究,然而更多的时候,你应该做的是创造新的知识。因此,探索完全未知的领域才是最有可能取得突破和重要进展的。
 
而探索新领域最重要的任务之一就是设计出正确的课题。所谓课题设计,我主要指的是将模糊的观点或者想法转化为定义清晰明确的问题。因此我们需要:
 
1. 确定问题的概念框架或是你希望构建的大的理论框架。
 
2. 将你希望得到的主要结果与细节分开。
 
3. 要有耐心,不要急着马上给出问题的答案。我们已经习惯了解决问题而非提出问题的,因此这一点尤为重要。
 
4. 了解什么是好的或者清晰的问题,它们和模糊或者不准确的问题之间有什么区别。
 
不幸的是,世上并没有现成的公式或规则,你只要按部就班就可以完成这个任务。我们只能不断实践,从经验教训中学习。博士生导师的一个主要任务就是利用实际案例,并采用苏格拉底的提问-回答的对话方式把这个本事传授给学生。学生尝试着提出一个课题,并接受导师对该课题的质疑,为这个课题答辩。而导师要努力指出学生答辩中存在的弱点和问题。在这一阶段,是否很好地提出了问题就比问题本身是否“恰当”更加重要。只有等问题很好地提出来以后,我们才能不断锤炼该课题,让它变得更有意义。为了做到这一点,有必要再次重复上文中提到的第3步。。
 
评论:
 
Zfl200122 2007-10-6 22:41:24
 
我完全同意何教授关于如何提出研究课题,特别是原创性课题的观点。有时这比课题本身或者解决方法更加重要。它是成为一位成功的研究者的必经之路。
 
(何宏辉译,何姣校)
 


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