Over this summer, I have had the opportunity to experience academic research in the field of applied mathematics and it has given me the confidence to pursue further work in this area. Prior to the research project, I found the thought of writing an academic paper daunting, as they are often very dense and specific. Every paper I read was entirely different to the others I had understood before, meaning all the concepts brought forward in each paper seemed to be entirely derived by the authors from scratch. By being able to delve deeper into one specific area over the summer, I have realised that this is often not the case. Each research project is very much built on the conclusions and derivations of its predecessors. Indeed, even though there may be many rich concepts explored in a given publication, very few of these will be completely novel.
Although this may put a dampener on the thought of research for some, I found this revelation reassuring as it made the world of academic research seem more attainable. The term ‘the literature’, very often pronounced with a capital ‘L’, is thrown around very often when discussing academic concepts; until now I never had a true understanding of what it meant. The realisation that this term referred to the foundations of a research area upon which I could rely made me feel just a bit more at home in the academic world. The Literature is different for every area of expertise, but it describes the incredible work whose shoulders we stand on to further our understanding of the problems before us.
Solene Hegarty-Cremer was a recipient of a 2018/19 AMSI Vacation Research Scholarship.