Advice on finding gap for PhD research

posted
21-Mar-20, 20:45
edited about 20 seconds later
by simm
Avatar for simm
posted about 1 week ago
Hi everyone, I am a first year student, and I am currently working on finding a research question. It has been almost 6 months and I feel as if I am the only student who has not figured out a research question yet. I joined this forum in the hope that maybe my senior friends could advise me something. I have brought many questions to my supervisor but because of the data availability issue, we end up going back to square one always. My annual committee meeting is coming very soon, and I am a little scared about how am I gonna get through it. I have been reading papers but for some reason, I cannot come up with a gap. Does anyone have any advice? I really enjoy research, but this couple of week has been very disheartening.
posted
31-Mar-20, 10:25
edited about 1 minute later
Avatar for Tudor_Queen
posted about 1 day ago
Hi Simm

Welcome to the forum. Your situation sounds quite normal (as in it happens). I mean, coming up with ideas and questions can be tough when you are constrained by the data that you have. And if you're just trying really hard to "come up with questions" it can end up being like a rut / round in circles kind of thing. It strikes me that your supervisor could offer some support here. Especially as you are 6 months in now. Do you have more than one supervisor? I am just thinking that maybe organising a meeting with one or all your supervisors to discuss research questions for your project would be really helpful at this stage. Just be open, as you are here. Prepare some different ideas and questions and ask for their feedback on them - if they are not appropriate, how can they be tweaked? Is the scope big enough for a PhD project, too big? Etc. Those sorts of questions should help them to help you if they aren't already doing so!

Also - aren't you able to collect new data as part of your PhD? This could give you more scope with questions you can ask - you could even change topic to something more interesting in the same area. I don't know what research area you are in or what your topic is so it is not possible for me to try and give more specific advice.

Hope this helps in some way.

Tudor
posted
31-Mar-20, 19:40
by simm
Avatar for simm
posted about 1 day ago
Hi Tudor_Queen, Thank you so much for your warm welcome. I am going to take your advice of collecting new data and bring this to my supervisors. I feel this is the only way I can contribute something new and also be able to explore interesting topics.

I am actually a finance student, although I have only done my masters in finance and my bachelor degree was in mathematics. I had thought finance PhD will be very interesting with my mathematics background, but I feel as if I am lacking the proper depth on theoretical finance. Thank you! :)

Simm
posted
31-Mar-20, 20:34
edited about 20 seconds later
Avatar for Tudor_Queen
posted about 1 day ago
Hi Simm

You're welcome! My background isn't in finance, so I'm not sure how a finance PhD works. Maybe it is commonplace to use an existing dataset to address new questions? I know that in some fields it wouldn't be - for example my friend who is a statistics lecturer and publishes research papers on statistics always works on data that already exist and never collects data himself. If that is the case in your field too, then it might be that your supervisors are wanting you to gain a good understanding on the theory and existing work. And then based on what you've learnt from your reading of the literature, come up with some relevant questions that you could address using their data. Could this be the case? Maybe you could check this with your supervisors so that you are all on the same page, so as to speak. And also don't be shy of asking for direction on what you should be reading if you aren't sure (they should definitely be giving guidance for this). Please let us know how things progress :)

Best
Tudor

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