Nano-thought on Research

午休时间打开手机上的知乎随便读了一两个post。其中有一个作者的回答吸引了我的注意:

CV/ML顶级会议上的灌水文都有哪些特征?如何快速判断顶会论文是在灌水?- 李沐回答

在回答中作者这段话让我感触颇深:

学术会议除了交流学术成果外,还有一个重要功能是培养新人。虽然存在super star登场就是开创性的工作,但绝大部分人还是从小白文开始,慢慢积累经验。

小白文一般来说是基于前面的工作,做一点细微的改动,然后有理有据的把结果写下来。这样一方面通过实际动手熟悉这个领域,另一方面练习写作。但从读者的角度来说,这些小白文十有八九是灌水。

所以对于研究者来说,一方面既不要觉得灌水是耻辱也不要觉得这就是目标,比较好的心态是总是保证下一篇文章比上一篇要好。
这段话让我回想起我在wisc上Econ 580时教授Kenneth West对我们说过的话(大意如下):

Making a theoretical new model is certainly called innovation and definitely counted towards research. However, applying an old model to a completely new data set can also be called research and innovation. By all means, you shouldn’t feel shame of it.
对于一个刚接触research, 不知天高地厚,并且又有点妄自菲薄的我来讲,这句话当时我并没有听明白同时我也没有听进去。当时候我的想法就是我一定要通过这门课搞出个惊天大模型出来,即使一个独立模型没搞出来,我也要弄出个模型衍生品出来。我从内心多多少少有些鄙视那些把在原型paper中一个对油价的linear regression model放到自己的insurance cost data的做法。但是,与此同时,我内心里确有另外一种声音;这个看起来是一个挑战很大的任务,你真的可以吗?

一学期下来我发现做research是一个既困难又容易的事物。一方面觉得同一个模型放到不同数据上就能叫research让整个research看起来不是那么daunting。另一方面,却又觉得那些在我看来不那么“细微的改动”的research是多么的不容易。最后,我还是成为了被我鄙视的那类人,写了这篇关于足球运动员转会费的研究。

另外就像知乎作者回答的那样,不要觉得写这些所谓的“灌水文”就是耻辱,万事都需要过程, “绝大部分人还是从小白文开始,慢慢积累经验”。把自己当作目标,“保证下一篇文章比自己上一篇要好”就可以了。

最后,贴出一个我比较喜欢的quote,多多少少和这个topic有些关联吧:

“There are two kinds of gifts. First, there is the innate gift of a given skill. This is a minor gift. If you have this gift, a skill such as doing math or playing the piano comes naturally to you. There are millions of people with minor gifts of all kinds who never do anything great with their gifted skills, because they lack the major gift.

The major gift is the love of the work. This might seem backward. How can love of using a skill be more important than the skill itself? It is for this simple reason: if you have a major gift, you will do things with the skills you have. And keep doing them. And your love of the work will shine through. And through practice, your skills will grow and become more powerful, until your skills are as great or greater than someone who only has the minor gift.

There is only one way to find out if you have the major gift. Start down the path, and see if it makes your heart sing.— From “The Art of Game Design”[Schell ’08]

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