Beki Grinter

Judy Olson’s 10 questions and some commentary

In academia, computer science, research, women on September 30, 2010 at 8:56 am

Judy Olson’s 10 questions that every graduate student should be able to answer. To me these look most like proposal questions, since the proposal should contain answers to all of them. But, actually the more I think about it, the more that they seem applicable throughout graduate school. At first the answers will be broad, and incomplete. Phase I then to flesh out the answers and to begin the process of scoping down.

Phase II is to really work the questions together. The problem, the solution, and the audience are all inter-related. In Human-Centered Computing and it’s like, the problem is likely some combination of technology, people, and a domain. But it’s more than that. Within each, scoping down to particular technologies, particular groups of people, and the domain of their context, all essential. Methods can help. Some methods are better for things than others. Use methods to further work on scoping the problem. It’s all inter-related, this is why it tends to take time.

Phase III is execution of course. Just the other day I was asked about whether it made sense to publish in multiple communities. I think it does, but advisely so. It’s really important to build up a presence in a particular community, that takes time and repeated publication/interaction and so forth. In the case of Judy’s ten questions community pertains to #2, 8,9, and 10 at least. But, many people work across domains, for example, in health and technology. In that case it can be useful to take some of the results back into the health community also, if nothing else it’s a powerful source of verification that the work is not just grounded technologically, but also in the best of health literature. It can be useful to get feedback and learn from the other community about the state of the art in that community. But, I think it’s essential not to split yourself too early across too many communities, you need to be established in one. So, think of your core community and peripheral communities. It’s hard enough to get established in one, don’t spread yourself to thin was my advice.

1) What is the problem? What are you going to solve?
2) Who cares? Why should people care about this problem?

3) What have other people done about it? Literature review. Why is that not sufficient? What are the gaps and unanswered questions?

4) What are you going to do about it? Your approach

5) What are you really going to do about it? Methods, operationalization, sample

6) What do you expect to find? What did you find? Results

7) What does this mean? Conclusions

8) Who cares? Implications

9) Where are you going to publish? What are you going to do next?

10) What are you going to be doing in 5 years?


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