Currently, I am picking up the first materials to work into the theory of what my thesis will be about. As I am doing that, I am thinking about what I hope to get out of the work on my thesis. It might be a good idea to write down these hopes and expectations, check in again at a later time and see what turns out true.
Research with results
In my bachelor’s thesis I worked with a software package that is used the research group to produce a lot of interesting results, but I myself did not get to a point where I produced data I could analyse and say what happens there, even with the input data already provided by the group. Exactly that is what I want in my master’s thesis: whether by analytic or computational means, I want to produce something I understand from the ground up.
Pen and paper work
My bachelor’s thesis was focused on a computational method and for my master’s I want to do a bit more calculations on paper. This can be in working through the theory, repeating and verifying calculations from papers or even really getting new things out of a calculation. I definitely also want to do a lot of coding and work with computational methods, but doing a bit more pen and paper work would be realy nice.
FAIR software and data
FAIR stands for Findability, Accessibility, Interoperability, and Reuse. It is a principle guiding work with digital assets in science with the goal of ensuring reproducibility. This principle was originally developed as guidelines for good data management, which is vitaly important to make research reproducible and also to enable building on top of existing data. But it can also be applied to research software (be it little scripts for analysis or full-blown software packages). This includes putting software up in a repository to make it findable, making it accesible via documentation, etc.
This very much ties into the point above, FAIR software (and data) is necessarily open source, so I would like my own software and data to be open source. Achieving this is easier, when I already think of it beforehand, so I can set up my development environment in a way, that can be easily published. For my bachelor’s thesis, I did not do that, so everything from the process of making myself comfortable with the software I was using to the manuscript itself were in one large repository, without any information on how to set up an environment or use the provided scripts.
For my master’s thesis, I already separated my manuscript into a separate repository, so writing it does not interfere with my software development (that may continue after I finished my thesis!). I will probably work with a mix of software I write myself to do some numerical work as well as large cluster computations. It’s probably a good idea to separate the calculation and data visualization steps. The exact process is something I will need to work on quite a bit, but I will probably split it up in separate repositories as well. An interesting tool for managing the data is DataLad and I will definitely try to work with that for my data and the visualization process.
Applying things I learned in the last two years
Over the last two years, I learned a lot of things about physics. I heard lectures about all matter of condensed matter theory, read books and papers and I want to use this knowledge, build on top of it.