Research Guidelines

Following figure is an illustration of an iterative process you will apply during your PhD research. You will follow a research methodology and produce outputs in terms of publications, software prototypes and open source as well as work and collaborate in the research community. Keep reading for more details. In addition, you may also be interested in a post on Success of a PhD Endeavor.

Research Methodology

Your PhD research will last approximatelly three years and during this time you will go through different stages of your work. Hence you should understand the research methdodology you should follow and its general tasks. Note that this methodology is not a waterfall-like process. You should incrementally build your research results by performing the tasks in phases. Also depending on your own approach, you may be more focused on analysis and design at early stages of your research and more on the development and implementation later. On the other hand, if you are more hands-on oriented you may first develop prototypes and abstract the conceptual and theoretical findings later.

Following table shows general tasks of the research methodology

Methodology Tasks
Analysis State of the art analysis, survey of current approaches related to your topic, a lot of reading of research papers in journals and conferences. During this analysis you should make clear what kind of theories, languages, models and technologies you will use and the challenges you will target.
Design Theoretical and conceptual design of your solution. This may include conceptual architecture, algorithms, languages, or models. The design should directly address challenges you identify during the analysis stage and it should be technoligcally independent and reusable.
Implementation Implementation of a prototype or tools that implements or use algorithms, models, languages from the design stage as proof of concept. This may include the implementation of client-side apps as well as back-end systems.
Evaluation Evaluation of algorithms on real-world data, empirical comparision and proofs that your solution adds the new value on top of related research.

Publishing Results

Any research work also includes publication of research outcomes. And it is essential that you will learn how to publish and write. There are many publication opportunities, however, not all are of good quality. This is important to understand when you do the analysis/survey as obviously you should take into account only good publications but also when you publish your results. One view on a quality could be an acceptance rate to a conference or a journal, another one could be an impact factor of a journal reported by ISI Web of Knowledge. As a rule of thumb, acceptance rate below 20% would be of high quality, a rate between 20%-30% would be of good and acceptable quality, a rate between 30%-50% would be of a fair but still acceptable quality and a rate above 50% would be not accaptable. And you should ignore any conference, workshop or journal that doesn't run a paper review process. In addition, publications you read and write should appear in a digital library of a renowned publisher such as IEEE, ACM, or Springer. Last but not least, publications should be indexed by DBLP and should appear in Web search results. Note that when a publication appear, for example, in the IEEE Digital Library, it does not mean it must be of a good quality. There are some IEEE conferences with acceptance rate above 50%.

Following table contains types of publications and indication when they should appear within your PhD work.

Types of Publications
Workshop papers Preliminary results of your research with lack of evaluation, more technologically-driven than conceptually-driven work, survey and position papers describing state of the art and challenges. 1-2
Demos and Posters Demonstration of prototypes and tools, challenges and preliminary outcomes of research which main purpose is to get a feedback from the community when presenting them. 1-3
Conference papers Results of your research descibing motivation/challenges, design solution, implementation prototype as a proof of concept and evaluation. 2-3
Journal papers Results of your research descibing in deep all research results that may include state of the art, motivation, results and strong evaluation. A journal paper typically builds on one or more already published conference papers. 2-3
Magazine papers Theoretically lightweight but detail description of your results or challenges to a wider audience. Visionary or position papers describing challenges and possible solutions. 2-3
Tutorials Detail technical presentation with optional hands-on session for the audiance presenting your prototypes as well as related technologies. 3

Please note that your PhD reasearch may not include all types of publications but be prepared to publish in workshops, conferences and journals/magazines which will be the prerequsite for your successful PhD.

Research Community

Your PhD research will happen within one or more research communities that will include Semantic Web, Web enigneering, and Web Services. You should be aware of the work in these communities with respect to your PhD topic, you should publish and present your results there as well as these communities should accept your results.

Following table shows major conferences that these communities maintain.

European and International Semantic Web Conferences (ESWC, ISWC) Core Semantic Web conferences with many topics including services and applications. Acceptance rate is usually 15%-25%.
Semantic Technology Conference (SemTech) Industrial conference presenting semantic technologies and their value in applications. Short papers and talks.
World Wide Web Conferences (WWW) Top Web engineering conference with semantic web and services tracks. Acceptance rate is usually <20%.
European and International Conference on Web Services (ECOWS, ISWC), International Conference on Service Oriented Computing (ICSOC) Core services confeences with topics on mobile applications as well as semantic web applications for services research. Acceptance rate is usally 20%-30%

These conferences also have co-located workshops focused on specific theme. Following table shows major journals and magazines that you should monitor and consider for submitting your papers.

Magazines and Journals
IEEE Internet Computing High profile technical magazine for wider research/technical community focused on Web engineering, Web services, social computing, cloud computing, etc. Acceptance rate is usually 20%.
IEEE Intelligent Systems High profile technical magazine for wider research/technical community focused on Artificial Intelligence, Agent systems, Semantic Web. Acceptance rate is usually 20%.
More to be added ...

Research Collaboration

It is essential for your PhD that you collaborate with other researchers or practitioners. This means that you will not only collaborate with our team members but also within the community. You will always be free to collaborate with anyone should you think it would be of benefits to you and our team. To collaborate may mean following activities: co-develop technologies and tools, co-author research papeprs, co-organize various events and short-term research visits.

We maintain an active collaboration with following groups.

Organization nameDescription
Digital Enterprise Research Institute (DERI), National University of Ireland Semantic Web research in many areas, one of the largest Semantic Web research institutes in the world.
Knowledge Media Institute (KMi), Open University in the UK High-profile research institute focused on Semantic Web and Social Web research
Semantic Technology Institute, University of Innsbruck, Austria High profile institute focused on Semantic web services research., USA Part of Alcatel-Lucent, the most popular API directory on the Web.
3Scale Networks, Barcelona, Spain API monitoring and scalability service.

PhD Thesis

PhD thesis is a report of your research work. You will iterativelly build your thesis through your publications in conferences, journals/magazines or in book chapters. After one or two years of your PhD you will be requested to submit and defend so called a PhD minimum as well as pass the state exam associated with your PhD. Note that this is the law in the Czech republic which may not exist in other countries such as in Ireland or Austria. Your PhD thesis's content should be based on your publications thus it is usually "accepted" by the research community prior to your PhD defence.

Following table shows a possible scope of your thesis. Note that the thesis does not need to include exactly the chapters as they appear in the table but content-wise it should be along these lines.

PhD Thesis Structure
Introduction Introduction to the domain and your thesis, the research methodology you are using, brief summary of your thesis and your results.
Stete of the Art Report on the analysis of the state of the art (also called related work) and its breakdown to sub-domains. By reading this chapter it should be clear the scope of your thesis.
Challenges and Objectives Description of challenges and objectives of your thesis explicitly reflecting gaps you identify in the State of the Art analysis. Description of any methods, theories and tools you are using.
Theoretical Solution Description of design, theories, models that solve the problems and address the challenges.
Implementation Proof of concept implementation of the solution – description of the technological architecture, usage scenarios, volumes of data or users.
Experimentation and Evaluation Evaluation of added values of your solution through experiments, comparisions of the results with related tools and technologies. This should also include description of any experiments you are performing for the evaluation.
Conclusion and Future Work Discussion on potential benefits, uptake, commercialization of your results and future work realted to the research.
Bibliography List of papers you were using as a basis of your research. This list should also include your own publications.

Success Criteria

Before you start your PhD research it is good to know what are the success criteria for completing your PhD. Note that these criteria reflect what it is expected you should be able to do when you are awarded a PhD degree.

PhD Success Criteria
Knowledge You should posses a good knowledge in the area of your work, have an overview of research in this area as well as groups who work in this research. You should also have contacts to such groups.
Research approach You should be able to identify a research problem and define steps how to approach it, identify methods and tools, abstract from a technological solutions to conceptual ideas, prove concepts through implementations, and evaluate your solution.
Publications You should be able to properly stucture a paper and clearly describe motivation, goals, solution and evaluation. You should be able to publish and get your paper accepted in your area of work to a high quality conference/journal.
Impact You should be able to generate an impact through publications (your publications should get cited) and open source.
Presentation You should be able to present your work in front of fellow researchers, discusss your work openly, accept feedbacks from others and incorporate the feedback.
Guidance You should be able to guide junior researchers, help them to approach research challenges.
Research proposals You should be able to identify a research problem and define steps how to approach it as well as identify methods and tools.
Organization of Events You should be able to organize events such as workshops, scientific meetings, and define agendas for such events.