Is there a shortage of students with vision? Is it just in my field? I don’t mean “Vision” as in grand forward thinking ideas, I mean the ability to fucking SEE. I just had four graduate students pitch research topics, all phrased as “I’m going to look at ______.” Hhmmm. We can complete that project in about 5 minutes. We can go to my lab and LOOK or we can just do a quick Google image search. You are supposed to have a research question not a research item to gaze upon. What the fuck? Looking at things, into things, under things, and around things does not a research design make. I know the whole scientific method thing is sooooo old-school. But in this field, looking just isn’t going to cut it. What are you looking for? I know, this is how projects often start…you are just intrigued by something, but then you keep thinking…next thing you know you realize WHY.
You begin to see that you want to look at that something because perhaps if looked at it in the right way it might reveal something, and that something might have some implications for other somethings. I am more than willing to help you through this process (I am pretty sure it is part of my job) but you have to help me out too. All I ask is that if you are at the “I’m going to look at phase” of your topic, develop a few clauses to that sentence before you come see me. Any clause that begins with “because by looking at ______ I could…” will suffice (note: that eliminates the possibility of “because no one else has looked at ______”; no one else hasn’t looked at lots of things, in and of itself that is not a good reason to do anything…unless you are very drunk, in which case it seems like a great reason to look at lots of things that you will wish you never saw). Anyway, I am tired of having this conversation with you students. Just come to me a little more prepared, I am not an ophthalmologist.