Can I Give Core Research Tasks to Undergraduate and Postgraduate Students?

Research Pyramid

Introduction

Most of the research work happens on academic campuses of high repute. All academicians have to take research as a part of their career advancement as well to satiate their passion towards the area of their interest. Keeping in view of their personal and family commitments most academicians take up research work part-time, which helps them to work as well to do research.  Part-time research scholars have to teach subjects; guide students in various co-curricular and extra-curricular activities. Sometimes they also have to shoulder administrative responsibilities.

As per the latest academic requirements, graduate students have to do mini projects, present seminars and write technical papers at Tech Fests and conferences. Without the help of a faculty advisor, these tasks look next to impossible for any student.

Now  one of the questions that linger in every researcher’s mind is

“Shall I give part of  my research work to my students?”

“Is it ethical to give my research work to undergraduate/postgraduate students?”

As per my observation, many research scholars directly give their work as projects to students.

It is a common opinion in the research community that, core research work should not be given to students as it may later lead to the following unwanted situations:

  • Without your knowledge, students may outsource your work. The outsourced agency may later share your work with other students or researchers. This will lead to a loss of exclusivity in your work.
  • Some students may claim it is their own idea which may put your PhD in real trouble.
  • Without your consent or name, students may publish your work after they finish their degree and before you finish your PhD.  Now you will lose the right to claim your work.
  • Patenting your work demands unpublished exclusive work. This may not be possible once your work become public through students.

However, there are ample opportunities to give your PhD related tasks to your students without losing the ownership of your work. The tasks should be assigned in such a way that students will learn the concepts without touching your core work and you can easily map the work of your students to your research work with little effort. This will create a win-win framework for both the research scholars and the students. Further, this will build a strong research environment in the academic and university environment.

Students will not take an interest until you motivate them towards it. You need to tell the benefits of research for their career.  Many times students will be under the confusion that research is only meant for the high-grade student category and not for the mediocre. You need to alleviate these from their minds and make them look at research with a new perspective.

Now there are two questions which need to be answered.

  • How to motivate students to take up research work?
  • What can be assigned to students from my PhD work?

 

A.  How to Motivate Students to Take up Research Work?

The following benefits which a graduate student may gain being in association with a research scholar can be elaborated to your students whenever they approach you.

  • Students can improve their research skills which include science, math, logic, and problem-solving skills as experimental skills like design, data collection, data analysis, understanding of limitations, and research ethics.
  • Students can improve their oral, written, and visual communication skills.
  • Students show gains in their critical thinking skills.
  • Provides a stronger sense of professional identities, such as “feeling like a scientist”.
  • Connects students to a community of practice, including the mentor, other faculty, and professionals outside of the university.
  • Encourages the ability to persist even if faced with setbacks.
  • Increases interest in college degree and pursuing a doctoral degree.
  • Increases confidence and self-efficacy.
  • Students who gain sophisticated research skills will be highly sought after by potential employers
  • Students will understand how to conduct research; how to choose and use the appropriate qualitative or quantitative methods to carry out studies
  • Research problems will help the students: how to work collaboratively towards a common goal; and how to write effectively in order to convey their findings to the public.

 

B. What Research Work can be Given to Students?

The following points will help you being a research scholar, what problems may be given to students without affecting the exclusivity of your PhD work.

  • Seminar Topics

research seminar

Technology advances in your domain can be learnt by assigning the latest topics in your research domain. This will help you to have a complete picture of your domain along with the latest works and technological advancements in your domain. Here you need to train the students on giving professional presentations. You can personally get trained on presentation skills and disseminate the same to your students.

 

  • Papers in Tech Fests, and Local Conferences 

research presentation in seminar

Students can be asked to survey recent papers in your domain and write survey papers for Tech fests and conferences. This will help you in building the bibliography for your final thesis. You can later extend the conference paper to a journal paper. This will add value to your PhD work.

 

  • Mini projects, Major projects 

 Research Project

Some algorithms which the previous authors have implemented on their machines need to be redone as these experiments are carried out way back on old machines with old programming languages or implemented on machines which you may not have. This will help you to directly compare your results with other algorithms. While comparing the results platforms matter for you. 

 

  • Data Collection 

data source

Students can be assigned to collect data from sensors, cameras, and websites but make the student use the data for other project purposes other than your core work. Here you have to teach the students about the data preprocessing and analysis. This will help you to go in depth of data preprocessing and analysis methods.

 

  • Developing User Interface 

research data entry

 

Some research works need a user interface or web interface for testing. Such tasks can be given to students. This will help you to demonstrate your work in a better way in conferences, workshops and PhD defence. Make your students to learn web interface and UI/UX design before they go ahead with implementation. 

  • Automation 

research automation

Converting certain tasks from manual to automated ones, maybe testing, data generation etc can be assigned to students. This will help you to add data easily to your future tasks.

  • Equipment setup 

experimental setup

Some experiments need equipment preparation involving, sensors, workstations, networking, various types of light sources, LEDs, embedded components etc. This is really time-consuming for the researcher to prepare the things on their own. In such cases, the researcher can take the help of the students.

  • Testing 

Research paper

A  researcher has to substantiate his results with a huge amount of tested data. Many times the data that needs to be tested is scattered in different devices, in an unstructured format or available in local or remote fields. Sometimes data needs to be tested on already existing algorithms on new machines on which he/she has developed a new algorithm (remember you can not compare an apple with a mango).  In such scenarios, students are of great help in collecting, formatting and testing the data in quick time.

  • Simulation

simulation

Certain experiments require the tests to be carried out on high-cost equipment which is sometimes risky for a researcher. In such situations, the researcher can test the data with the help of students in an already available simulated environment or can ask the students to build a simulator for testing their data. Simulation-based learning can be used to develop student’s knowledge, skills, and attitudes, whilst protecting equipment from unnecessary risks. Simulation-based research can be a platform for learning to resolve practical dilemmas. Simulation-based training techniques, tools, and strategies can be applied in designing structured learning experiences.

 

Conclusion

Undergraduate and Postgraduate students should be given research assignments for their class projects, internships, seminars, userinterface designs and testing.  It is advantageous that they collaborate with their professors in research teams and research life cycle, fusing research with graduate and undergraduate coursework. However never ever  assign or share your core work to students as this may later lead to loss of ownership.

Vijay Rajpurohit
Author: Vijay Rajpurohit
Vijay Rajpurohit is a researcher in Computer Science. He loves to educate researchers and research scholars on Research Paper Writing, Thesis Writing, Research Grants, Patenting Research Work and the latest Research-related issues. You can reach him @ [email protected]