ROAD TO DISSERTATION

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ROAD TO DISSERTATION

ROAD TO DISSERTATION

Elena Simona Lohan

Senior Researcher, Docent (Adjunct Professor)

Department of Communications Engineerings

Tampere University of Technology

elena‐simona.lohan@tut.fi

http://www.cs.tut.fi/tlt/pos


Outline

• Who am I? Why Finland?

• My GETA experience

• PhD research stages:

‣ Research and publish

‣ Make a plan for Dissertation (target research

results, target number of publications,…)

‣ Actual writing

‣ Dissertation day

‣ After Dissertation

‣ My experience as a woman

researcher in Finland


Who am I?

• Born and raised in Bucharest,

Romania

• 1992-1997: Engineering degree (equivalent of MSc) in 1997 from

«Politehnica» University of Bucharest (in electrical engineering)

• 1997-1998: DEA (equivalent of MSc) from Ecole Polytechnique,

Paris, France, in 1998, after 2-year study in Paris (in Optimization,

game theory, and economical modelling)

• 1998-2003: PhD from Tampere University of Technology (TUT) in

2003 (in wireless communications)

• Since 2003: Senior Researcher, lecturer and technical project

leader at TUT, Department of Communications Engineering.

Nominated in 2007 as a Docent (Adjunct Professor) for 5 years.

Research field: signal processing for wireless positioning

(especially satellite-based positioning)


Why Finland?

The 3 ’S’s: Summer, Sauna, Simplicity


My GETA experience

• GETA student between Aug

2000- Jul 2003

• Participant at 2 GETA courses during my PhD: a ‘core’ course in

telecommunications at Ruka and a course on satellite positioning

in Helsinki

• Attending 3 GETA boat seminars during my PhD studies

• Organizer of a GETA-funded course on ‘Wireless positioning’ at

TUT (summer 2009)


Family in Finland

Husband: Florin.

• Also a former GETA student.

• Now working at Nokia.

• Also co-founder of a small company

focusing on products for the distribution of

digital TV: Ondems.

• Also the author of the MLauncher, a music

player for S60 phones (free download at

http://www.mlauncher.org/)

Daughter: Iris (b. 2007).

• In (Finnish) kindergarten


PhD research stages:

Research and publish (I)

• Your research topic and directions of research are not the

sole responsability of your supervisor -> keep track of

state-of-art results in your field and look for innovative

ideas:

• On-line magazines, news articles

• IEEE database: http://ieeexplore.ieee.org

• The scientific literature digital library Citeseer

http://citeseer.ist.psu.edu/

• Patent databases, e.g.,

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/

• Look actively for cooperation and/or exchange of ideas with

other research units in Finland and abroad (e.g., web

searches, during conference attendance, …) -> fresh

thoughts


PhD research stages:

Research and publish (II)

• Where to publish?

• http://www.wikicfp.com/: Wiki Call for Papers in various areas; for

both conferences and journals

• http://edas.info/: after creating an account you can see many

upcoming CFPs (conferences/journals), mostly in signal processing

and telecommunications fields

• http://www.ieee.org: links to various IEEE conferences and journals

• http://www.eurasip.org/ : EURASIP journals, typically with specific

CFPs (faster publication)

• Discuss with your supervisor and colleagues about average

review times in chosen journals

• Chose a conference not only according to location, but mostly

according to its significance (relevance to the research field,

impact factor)

-> this is important especially if you think about an Academic career; it’s

also important to make contacts with people in your research field

(opportunity for future common projects)


How many publications are

needed for a PhD?

• This depends on University, field &supervisor

• Example, at Faculty of Computing&Electrical Engineering at

TUT: at least 1 journal and at least 4-5 conference

publications (average in our department: 2 journals+ 5

international conferences)

• Personal experiences:

• My thesis: 2 published journals, 1 journal in ‘accepted’

state and 6 conference papers

• My first (and only, so far) graduated PhD student: 2

published journals + 7 conference papers

• Suggestion: submit journal publications as soon as possible;

(they take long to be accepted); better to submit first your

novel ideas to a journal, then additional results to

conferences


On the impact factor

• Impact factor measures the average number of citations to an

article (or a collection of articles)

• Typically, a higher impact factor can be achieved when publishing

in journals&conferences with high impact factor. Of course, the

main criterion remains the quality, timeliness and clarity of your

published work

• Some tools to count the impact factor:

• http://www.harzing.com/pop.htm: ” Publish or Perish” free software

that retrieves and analyzes academic citations (e.g., impact factor,

citations per year, etc); based on Google engine (self-citations are

also counted)

• www.isiknowledge.com: ISI citation index

• Why it’s important?

• Own ‘pride’: feeling good when your work is cited by the others

• Project fundings are more and more dependent on this (e.g., EU

projects)

• Reviewers may consider your impact factor in their evaluation


What conferences to

avoid?

• The so-called ’multiconferences’, covering for example

everything from power electronics to software systems and

wireless signal processing.

• Examples: WSEAS and IASTED chains of conferences

• Reasons:

• Low quality of the presentations&papers; people are

usually not attending the actual conference session but

go only for sightseeing

• Many Reviewers are aware of the (lack of) quality of

such conferences and may be not satisfied with the list

of publication


‘Enthusiasm’ graph

“Keep on going, and the chances

are that you will stumble on

something, perhaps when you

are least expecting it. I never

heard of anyone ever stumbling

on something sitting down”

~Charles F. Kettering (American

inventor, born end of 19th

century)


Make a plan

• What to include in the thesis?

‣ Unified ideas (if you worked in different areas, it’s

important to find and justify the link between them;

alternatively, you can focus only on related areas)

• Discuss with your supervisor & senior colleagues

‣ Gather suggestions

‣ Take a decision

‣ Discuss your decision/plan with supervisor again

• Compendium or monograph?


Compendium or monograph?

Compendium

‣ Summary of 30-60 pages of

research area +

published/accepted papers.

Results from the articles are not

to be reproduced in the

introductory part

+ Easier to write

+ Faster to review

- Not well-recognized outside

Finland (make sure that

Reviewers understand the

concept)

Monograph

‣ Own contributions are

incorporated in the thesis body;

your publications are only given

as references (not added in the

thesis)

+ Unified notations/formulas

+ Can copy&paste from your

articles, but need to use same

notations within the thesis

+ May include articles still under

review process

+ Most countries have monographtype

of theses

- May take longer to write and

review


Writing process ‐

suggestions

• Best motivation: when is the deadline?

• Write down a document with references (+ few notes about

each reference: why useful?, what you found in there?)

already during the thesis -> much easier to put everything

together

• if you use Latex as Text Editor (personally, I would strongly

recommend it) -> you can save a large bibliography file to

be used for all articles & thesis. It also has a Windowsfriendly

version: Lyx.


Writing and review process

statistics

•Based on own statistics among 14 friends with PhD (from TUT, HUT

and Oulu Univ.)

•On average: 7-8 months from starting the writing till Dissertation


Review process –things to

consider

• If you send your thesis before summer/winter holidays =>

reduced chances that Reviewers will read it during the

holiday months =>some additional time is lost

• Risks:

‣ Reviewers not satisfied with the quality or quantity and asking for

additional publications. Mitigation: have sufficient publications when

submitting the thesis and check the requirements of a PhD thesis in

the country where the Reviewer comes from (e.g., 'Compendium'

concept is sometimes difficult to be understood outside Nordic

countries)

‣ Reviewers not exactly in your research field => comments hard to

understand or comply with. Mitigation: chose people close to your

research area.

‣ Delays in the review process. Mitigation: it helps if the supervisor

knows the Reviewers enough such that he can push them in

completing the review within a certain period.


Some recommendations

for PhD students

• Based on a query made to my friends& colleagues who completed their

PhDs during past 10 years (in Tampere, Helsinki or Oulu). Question:

• With your experience of today, what would you recommend to a PhD

student?

Answers:

Be dedicated to the work

Have an open mind for different views of the research problem




You should like what you're doing (choice of the research area is also

important to your future)

Keep on going and trust yourself

Write your thesis in a group where some senior researchers are actively

involved in you research.

Make a plan. Then break the long term goals into smaller plans of 3-5

months. Make sure that at the end of each period of 3-5 months you are

where you estimated you will be.

Process "PhD work" in small steps, if you go forward only a small step

everyday, eventually you will find yourself defending your work in

dissertation.


Reviewers & Opponents

• Choice belongs to the Supervisor but it is good to discuss

your preferences with her/him

• 3 different persons need to be involved in the process:

minimum 2 Reviewers + 1 Opponent. If 2 Opponents, it is

customary to choose one of the Reviewers also as

Opponent.

• At TUT, there is a strong recommendation that at least 1

Finnish person should be involved in the process (or, at

least, someone who got the PhD degree in Finland) ->

easier to explain the requirements

• When chosing the Reviewers/Opponents, check

beforehand the PhD requirements in their countries -> very

different requirements might hinder a smooth process.


Dissertation day –Lectio

Precursoriae

• In English or

Finnish

• General

introduction in

the research field

targeting a nonexpert

audience

• 15’-20’

• Keep it simple

• Avoid complicated

formulas and block

diagrams;

• Focus on

applications &

motivation: why is

your research work

important? what are

the possible uses of

the results?


Dissertation day –actual

‘defense’

• Starts with the Opponent’s speech on the significance of the

studied topics

• Continues with questions regarding your thesis, your research

area and related issues to the research topic (typically about 2-3 h;

in my case 3h30’ all together)

• Ends with the Opponent(s)’ statement regarding your thesis (at

TUT, 3 recommendations are possible: ‘passed’, ‘passed with

honors’ or ‘failed’). The Faculty Council decides the final ‘grade’,

based on the Opponents’ recommendation.


Dissertation evening:

karonkka

• Karonkka dinner is a custom in Finland to honor the

Opponents (and people who contributed/help in your

research work: opponents, supervisor, reviewers, coauthors,

secretaries of the department, close family,

friends,…).

• Number of invited people is up to your budget (at

minimum: Opponent(s)+Supervisor(s)).

• Code dress and certain customs regarding the

placement at dinner table (depends on you how strictly

you want to follow the protocol)

• A ‘thanks’ speech to be held during Dinner (for me ->

the second most stressful event of the day, after the

actual defense); better to prepare it beforehand if you

are not good at speeches


After Dissertation

• Thesis approval by the faculty Council

• Graduation ceremony

• Time to move on:

Academic career

Industry career

Plan for the future is wiser to be done already when starting the thesis

writing (e.g., discuss the academic possibilities, apply for jobs, buy

’around the world’ flight ticket, etc.)


My work after Dissertation

• Current group: 3 PhD students (1 currently in maternity leave) and 2 MSc

students

• Number of graduated students under my supervision: 9 MSc and 1 PhD

• Research interests: baseband GNSS receiver processing, fading channel

models, CDMA signal processing with applications in positioning, Binary

Offset Carrier modulation studies

• Group page: http://www.cs.tut.fi/tlt/pos/

• Participation in the following projects since 2003:

• 2 EU-funded projects in the field of Galileo mass-market receivers

(2006-2008 and 2009-2011)

• 2 Academy projects: Academy postdoctoral researcher (2004-2007);

principal investigator in an Academy research project (2008-2012)

• 3 Tekes-funded projects in the field of satellite-based positioning (2003-

2006, 2006-2007, and 2007-2009)

• Teaching activities: Communication Theory, Basics of Wireless

Communications & Spread Spectrum Techniques-focus on positioning, plus

various invited speeches at TUT.


My experience as a woman

researcher in Finland

• Easy to combine research & family life due to good

public day-care system, husband’s support and

understanding boss

• Flexible hours possible or working from home when

child is sick

• Typically, some work during weekends and holidays

also needed.

• Maternity leaves introduce significant delays in the

research work -> need to consider this aspect in your

family planning

=>Positive personal experience with Finnish system


Conclusions

“Consider the postage stamp: its

usefulness consists in the

ability to stick to one thing till it

gets there” ~Josh Billings

(humorist, 19th century)

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