Engagement of Graduate students for Researchwork – A WIN-WIN Framework

Most of the research work happens in the in the academic campuses of high repute. All of the  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 of the academicians take up the research work as  part time,  that helps them  to work as well to do research.  Part time Research Scholars  have to teach subjects, guide students for various co-curricular activities, extra curricular activities, have to take administrative responsibilities.

As per the latest academic requirements  graduate students have to  do mini projects, present seminars,  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 lingers 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 under graduate students?”

As per my observation  many research scholars directly give their  work as projects to students.  In my opinion core research work should not be given to students as it may later lead to

  • 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 loss of exclusivity of 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 Ph.D.  Now you will loose 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  • Patenting your work demands unpublished exclusive work .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.

But still there are ample opportunities to give your work 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.  Students will not take interest until you motivate them towards it. You need to tell the benefits of research for their career.  Many a times students will be under confusion that research is only meant for high grade student category and not for the mediocres . You need to alleviate these from their minds and make them to look research with a new perspective. This will create a win-win framework for both the research scholars and the students which can build a strong research environment in the academic and university environment.

Now there are two questions which needs to be answered.

    • How to motivate students to take up research work?

  • What can be assigned students from my Ph.D. 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 and 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 identity, 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 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 problem 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?

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: Technology advances in your domain can be learnt by assigning latest topics in your research domain. This will help you to have complete picture of your domain along with latest works and technological advancements in your domain.

    • Papers in Tech Fests, local conferences: Students can be asked to survey recent papers in your domain and write survey paper for Tech fests and conferences. This will help you in building the bibliography for your final thesis.

    • Mini projects, Major projects: 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: Students can be assigned to collect data from sensors, cameras, websites but make the student to use the data for other project purposes other than your core work.

    • Developing user interface: Some research works need user interface or web interface for testing. Such tasks can be given to students.

    • Automation: Converting certain tasks from manual to automated one, may be testing, data generation etc can be assigned to students.

    • Equipment setup: Some experiments need equipment preparation involving, sensors, work stations, 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 researcher can take the help of the students.

    • Testing: A  researcher has to substantiate his results with huge amount of tested data. Many a times the data needs to be tested is scattered in different devices, in 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 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: 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 on a already available simulated environment  or can ask the students to build a simulator for testing his data. Simulation-based learning can be used to develop  students’ 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.


Vijay Rajpurohit
Author: Vijay Rajpurohit