One of the most common images I see during science presentations is the frequency of publications within a particular field over time. It’s a great way to show the growth of the field while attempting to validate the worthiness of the research that follows. As far as I can tell, most people manually assemble this data with sequential searches on Google Scholar or Web of Science. This seemed like a straightforward opportunity for automation, so I made a little website that does just that. It takes a Google Scholar search query and a range of years and plots the number of results over time.
Today marks the beginning of my qualifying exam for becoming a PhD student in Biomedical Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin. The exam is taken at the end of the first year of graduate school and basically is a check to make sure that you have the basic research knowledge and critical thinking skills necessary to continue onwards as a doctoral student. The exam is broken into two separate parts: a written exam and an oral exam. Both exams are based off a single research paper, selected by the student depending on their research technical area (I fall within Technical Area #1 – Biomedical Imaging and Instrumentation). Later today I will be given the choice of two different papers to choose from. I will then have to answer five questions regarding the content of the paper, which is due in a week. At some point in the next month I will go before a four-person committee made up of faculty members from each of the different research tracks (Two from my track and one from each of the other two tracks) for an oral exam concerning the paper and more importantly my ability to “think on my feet.” If all goes well, then I’ll be continuing on my way towards getting a PhD in biomedical engineering.