Finding/Choosing a Research Problem

  • Finding a research problem can be very difficult. I found mine quite naturally, luckily, while I was sitting in class one day. I didn’t end up pursuing that topic until my advisor encouraged me to about two months later. I didn’t initially pursue it because I didn’t think too much of it at the time—nothing more than a curiosity. I suppose the lesson learned is to pursue interesting ideas unless you find a good reason not to.
  • I keep a list of research ideas. If something pops into my head, I write it down or else I will forget it. I come back to this list occasionally to reevaluate what I am working on and to determine what’s up next.
  • When deciding what to work on, I try to balance what I’m most excited about and what should/needs to be worked on.

Getting Started on a Research Problem

  • I like to write out my thoughts on my tablet (with stylus) to develop them. I am often surprised by how clear (and how muddy) some ideas become when I force myself to write them out.
  • Often times, formulating an idea with math really helps develop my ideas.
  • A good motivator for me to begin making progress is to target an upcoming paper deadline. I’m often surprised with how much progress I can make once I have something to shoot for.

Writing Papers, Preparing Slides, and Creating Figures

  • I write almost exclusively in LaTeX. I use Beamer for my slides.
  • My LaTeX editor of choice is TeXstudio. After experiencing some issues with my TeXstudio installation on Ubuntu, I found that this installation script solved my issues.
  • Overleaf is a great option too, but I prefer working from TeXstudio. When I collaborate, I’ll typically use Overleaf along with its Git integration so I can work locally and push my changes periodically.
  • My graphics editor of choice is LaTeXDraw. It’s not perfect but I have grown accustomed to it. I have looked around for other solutions but none do what I want as well as LaTeXDraw.
  • I like to develop my ideas by writing them down and then creating slide decks on them.


  • I primarily use Ubuntu 18.04. I occasionally use Windows 10.
  • I use Git (GitLab) to sync all files across my personal desktop, personal laptop, and lab desktop(s). I create repositories for projects, papers, etc. I also have a “master” repo that I use for things that don’t really deserve their own repo. Even when I’m away from my devices, I can always log in to GitLab to access my files. It gives me incredible peace of mind knowing my files are safe and always accessible.
  • I use a Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 and its stylus for taking notes, writing out ideas, reading and annotating papers, etc.
  • On my Tab S6, I find the following apps to be especially useful: Samsung Notes, Squid, and Google Drive.
  • I do a lot of writing (typing) so I have invested in a good keyboard after experiencing some hand discomfort. I use the Logitech G513 keyboard and the Logitech MX Master 2S mouse.
  • I subscribe to automatic alerts from EDAS based on my areas of interest. I am sent emails quite frequently for calls for papers.
  • I use Google Drive to sync lots of things. The Google Drive app also has document scanning capability making it convenient to digitize hand-written homework and notes.

Staying Productive

  • I always think I could be better at this. I haven’t found the secret formula for this yet, but have found things that work for me.
  • I have found it’s a good idea to take advantage of motivation before it fades. When deadlines aren’t immediate, I like to work on tasks that are both productive and fun to me. At some point, though, I eventually have to work on those items that don’t sound quite so fun.
  • I have tried to invest in a workspace that encourages productivity. I bought a goood mouse and keyboard. I have two monitors. I have an arm mount for my monitors, which frees up desk space. I have comfortable headphones. I have a decent chair. I have a good sized desk. It is important to me to encourage productivity even if it means spending a little bit of money.
  • I keep a weekly to-do list. Every Sunday, I list out the week’s tasks and their deadlines. I add to the list as the week progresses. (See Bullet Journaling.)