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Hello there 🙂,

I'm seeking to apply for Computer Science PhD next fall. Here are the list of questions that I have :

  • Does it matter if I have research experience on a different topic than what I'm interested in?
    • I am interested in ML/NLP but most of my experience was done on cloud computing
    • I have written multiple research papers but most were from individual studies. Only one is currently being reviewed for publication, I am unsure whether if it will get published tbh.
    • Does my non-published papers matter and is it a good idea to list them on my CV?
  • Tips on reaching out to Professors at target Universities
    • I feel awkward when communicate via email especially at someone I don't know
    • I also have read up some of their papers and I would like to ask them a few questions regarding about it. How should I approach this?
  • Tips on writing statement of purpose
    • How to brag but not sound egotistic....?
    • Is it a good idea to talk about individual research/studies that I've done on my own?
  • Does your undergrad school matters when applying for doctoral program in other Universities?
  • Tips on CV?

Thank you!

Edited by lemon-cmd
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19 hours ago, lemon-cmd said:

Hello there 🙂,

I'm seeking to apply for Computer Science PhD next fall. Here are the list of questions that I have :

  • Does it matter if I have research experience on a different topic than what I'm interested in?
    • I am interested in ML/NLP but most of my experience was done on cloud computing

The answers to most of your questions have changed based on the field that you have mentioned. ML/NLP is literally the buzz topic in most of the CS community right now. Almost everyone wants to do that. So consequently, the bar for admissions is much much higher. And more so for PhD. 

Some of the things that can make your application stand out -- a direct contact with the potential advisor (like someone from your undergrad school or a contact from industry who could introduce you); a publication at a top-notch venue where the topic (which is usually quite niche in the ML/NLP domain) relates to the work of some faculty members; the quality and relevancy of your prior experience (for e.g., i can imagine that experience in cloud computing could be useful for doing systems research within ML)

19 hours ago, lemon-cmd said:

 

  • I have written multiple research papers but most were from individual studies. Only one is currently being reviewed for publication, I am unsure whether if it will get published tbh.
    • Does my non-published papers matter and is it a good idea to list them on my CV?

Most students in ML/NLP apply with a good publication record (peer-reviewed publications), so your papers by themselves might not add much value. But the thoughts that you express and your writing style can sometimes impress some folks, so doesn't hurt to put them out. If you have a website, that would be the best place to put them, otherwise CV should also be okay. But you shouldn't mention it under 'publications' or something, coz that's misleading. 

19 hours ago, lemon-cmd said:

 

  • Tips on reaching out to Professors at target Universities
    • I feel awkward when communicate via email especially at someone I don't know
    • I also have read up some of their papers and I would like to ask them a few questions regarding about it. How should I approach this?

It never hurts to reach out to professors. But you should know that the response rate is going to be very low. Your email should be very polite, something that doesn't require much time to read, and there's a clear question at the end for the professor, so they know what you expect. Anything that requires additional effort is only going to reduce your chances of getting a reply. I used to write a simple email -- 'I read your paper X, and had this idea/question Y about it. Would it be okay if I share my views with you via email?' And then at the end of the email, I would also mention what i am doing in life right now and that i plan to pursue a phd in this domain.

Some profs have a separate page on their website on how to reach out to them, so make sure you follow anything that you find there. You can also find some generic advice from good faculty members who have written from their personal experience on what works and what doesn't. Just google about it. 

If you don't already have a direct contact with potential advisors, you should definitely reach out to faculty members via email. A good time to do that might be during the summers, or the start of the fall term, so you have enough time to build some rapport via email exchange, before you get to the admissions deadline. 

Another good way to get in touch with potential advisors is by attending conferences, so that's another option that you can explore. 

 

20 hours ago, lemon-cmd said:

 

  • Tips on writing statement of purpose
    • How to brag but not sound egotistic....?
    • Is it a good idea to talk about individual research/studies that I've done on my own?
  • Does your undergrad school matters when applying for doctoral program in other Universities?
  • Tips on CV?

CV is probably not that important. Your statement, recommendations or any personal references will make most of the difference. About bragging/egotistic, it requires multiple cycles to get it right, the idea is to write whatever comes to your mind, as extensive as possible, and then iterate over it, while collecting feedback from others.

About individual research/studies, ideally you should write anything that relates to the area where you are applying. But practically, the point of writing anything is either to show that your work had a very tangible output (for e.g., a publication, or a real world deployment), or you learned something from your experience. An independent study might satisfy the second condition. Whatever you write about it should not be something trivial or generic, but something that shows that you indeed worked hard which allowed you to develop this understanding. 
 

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No problem. Happy to help. 

Regarding github, it doesn't hurt to do it. But for it to have an impact, it should be part of a story (like how you built a solution and then made it open source for other people to also use it etc., or if you could show the stars/forks or any activity in the github page that confirms that you have actually built something that other people are interested in. ) 

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