How many of you were formally taught how to research? I'm guessing that for many of you, like me, there was never a class or workshop available to show you how it's done. I wish there was.
Who Knows What You'll Find When You Ask Questions by [F]oxymoron
If I had ever known I even might go to grad school, I would have tried to learn more about research before I even got here. I could have done a summer research internship with a professor in our faculty. I could have tried to make my honours project a little more research oriented.
When I started my Masters, I had no idea what "real" research was. Some of my courses tried to show us, but I usually ended up doing implementation-based projects instead of attempting to answer any interesting questions. I learned a bit from my supervisors, but we never explicitly talked about how things are done, so even then I was kind of just guessing.
Something I think would help me - and I'm sure many others - is an optional class or workshop series on how research is done in our field. What exactly constitutes a 'contribution,' and how do you know if you've got one? What do theory-oriented researchers do? How are experiments usually run? What are the different kinds of papers that we could write, and how would an algorithms theory paper differ from, say, an experimental paper in graphics? It would be great to get specific to our areas, too, because even if I'm not an algorithms theorist, I think it would be very useful to see the big picture by knowing how various computer scientists work.
Does your school have a course or workshops on how to research? How well does it work? If you have a good model I'd love to hear about it, and maybe I can suggest doing something similar at Carleton.