Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Q&A: Can you do my research for me?

Dear readers,

Here's an overdue Q&A post. More and more, I'm receiving requests (in different forms and manners) asking if I could do your research for you. Let me explain my point of view by illustrating this topic with a question I received recently (edited for the anonymity of the reader):

"Hi, I'm in the first year of my PhD in University of XXXX and following your blog regularly since past 1 month. My research area is Something in Social Sciences (technically falls under XXXX research). I'm in the process of drafting my research proposal as provision year goal. I'm writing this to ask for your help to locate existing research done under the broad spectrum of 'Field XXX'. Its almost impossible to read every book and journal to have a list of the research topics done under my area. So, could you please help me find any dedicated weblink or source from where I can have a list of the existing research? It would be really helpful!
Looking forward to your response."

While I felt like grabbing this person from the shoulders and yelling at him/her that he/she needs to do her own work, I replied as follows:

A few things:
1. “Its almost impossible to read every book and journal to have a list of the research topics done under my area.” => Not true: get the information you need and start reading. Once you start finding that information occurs again and again, it means that you have grasped the basis of your field. You cannot outsource this task, it is crucial to building your understanding of your research problem.
2. If you have been visiting my blog, you should have noticed my field is structural engineering. I cannot give advice on social sciences research.

More than anything. I get annoyed when people state that there is too much information in their field to read.

What you need to do is the following:

- Learn to read fast and scan for the crucial information in a paper. If the paper turns out not to be that interesting, don't spend hours trying to derive the math in it yourself (unless you love doing this for a hobby, then go ahead and do it on a night or weekend).
- Recognize the key authors/ schools of thought
- Read, read, read: it's got for you. It sparks creativity.

By the same token, I think of essay writing services as unnecessary and for lazy students. If you need your essay for research, you need to go through the process which ends in writing the essay, to learn about your field.

I once went to one of these websites where you can have somebody write your PhD thesis. I selected from a drop-down menu a thesis of 100k words, to be written in 2 days, and I got a price offer. Anybody in his right mind should know you can't do a PhD in 2 days - but apparently this company thought that if somebody is willing to pay for it, they can get it done.

To summarize: do your own work. It's of your own benefit.

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