Research is majorly devided in two paths; Forward path and Parallel path. Forward path requires to move ahead in your research. New stages, new modules are learned in this pathway. To sum, a entire new knowledge is obtained. If student and guide are expert than publications can be fetched. In parallel path something is already there and you need to apply it. Some applications, alternate techniques are developed in these pathways. There are lots of scope for publications and patent in this pathway because it is already developed and some base available which will augment research process. Let me explain it from my research work.

Forward and parallel paths in coal combustion

Forward and parallel paths in coal combustion

About Players

Many things have two categories: giver-taker e.g. money, book, advise etc. But research is not like that. It has only two categories: Research and Researcher, and there is no such term like Research giver and Research taker. This means both faculty and student are researcher/learner. Faculty and student can be smart or dumb giving 4 (22=4) possible ways.

Case 1: Both Faculty and Student are smart

The best combination. Faculty has ideas and student is also smart enough to execute his plan. Faculty knows how to harness power of Student. This kind of combination is quite possible.

Case 2: Faculty smart and Student dumb

Do you know what is minimum requirement to be recognised as smart? You should be practical and this means in minimum case you don’t allow someone to blame you. Faculty is smart and he knows how to get work done from student. Faculty won’t stop Student’s degree though student is more dumb because by doing this Faculty is not going to gain anything except his ego satisfaction. Contrary, there is a scope that student may excellent in life and may be helpful to faculty in future.

Case 3: Faculty dumb Student smart

Another minimum requirement to be known as smart is you find your own ways to get out of problems. Student is smart enough to know that he has to progress in life and has to find his own way. Do something and show to Faculty and get work move on. This kind of students are rare.

Case 4: Both Faculty and Student are dumb

Most dangerous combination. Both don’t know what is happening. Faculty is not practical and bring his ego why student is not working while student don’t know what to do in research. It is most common case in academic research.

My Research

My research is numerical simulation of detonation combustion of coal particles. Normal combustion process is described in figure. Coal combustion majorly divided in three steps; Heat transfer, Pyrolysis, and Combustion reactions and each step is worth 1-2 PhD students (numerical and experimental). Detonation combustion will be parallel path because it is combustion only but with different technique. My guide’s PhD thesis was in non premixed combustion so he already knew each steps. The detonation combustion will be parallel path for my guide but for me it will be forward path because I knew nothing about combustion except some fundamentals. I learned entire combustion process from fundamentals. In normal combustion, fuel is burned in normal conditions like in power plants, furnaces, forging plants etc. Detonation combustion will be different technique to burn coal. Detonation combustion will be application of the normal combustion.

What is forward path in my research?

I studied primary fragmentation which requires heat transfer and pyrolysis to be studied. Study of coal combustion ends with combustion reaction. The step heat transfer is different from pyrolysis and pyrolysis is different from combustion reactions. That is why this is forward path since each module is different from each other. I learn something deeper. Because it is forward path and nothing prior is known, I shall take more time to understand subject.

What is parallel path in my research?

Consider combustion reaction of liquids. If I know how to model coal combustion reactions then it will be easier for me to model combustion reactions for liquid or gas. Process is same and only difference is in modules. Study of liquid combustion reaction could be considered as application of coal reactions studies since I already know many of reactions. This will fasten my research and it will be easy for me to fetch papers. More papers means more chances of faculty to be promoted. This path is best for faculty because more papers and more students can be graduated since faster process.

Future of my research

I can pursue study of combustion reaction in my postdoctoral studies. I can apply this methodology for the study of other type of fuels namely liquid and gaseous once I know all the three core steps of combustion process. I can guide other PhD students to study detonation combustion of liquid and gases. I can develop new hybrid fuel which will be mixture of either coal, petrol, CNG and apply detonation combustion technique on it. As shown in figure, the parallel modules are worth M.Sc. (Engg.) topics. I can guide at least 6-7 master’s student and 3-4 PhD students. I can say I have expertise in my subject after guiding these many master’s and PhD students and spending 20 to 25 years in research because within this I may thoroughly understood each and every corner of my topic.

What are pros and cons of both paths?

Forward Path

  1. It gives student an opportunity to learn new modules. It adds knowledge. In initial stages, it is advisable to students if they learn as many things as possible.

  2. No preceding base available. It is uncertain solution will be obtained.

  3. Both guide and student are not aware with what will come next. Guide support could be minimal.

  4. Attention spent in understanding each modules. Lesser attention available to fetch papers.

Parallel Path

  1. Well set problem and understanding available. Easily attendable and papers can be fetched.

  2. Preceding base available and module is understood thoroughly. One can apply it to develop new machine. Patent is possible.

  3. More papers and more patents will fetch faster promotion to faculty.

  4. Student works as guide says. This kind of students require the post doctoral most.

Research Strategy

It is two player game. Let us see the players and their strategies.

Player: Student

Game setup and strategy of student

Game setup and strategy of student

The ranking is given on the scale of 1 to 4 with worst being 1 and best being 4.

Point 1: Student parallel and Faculty forward path

Faculty is forward path and hence learning while student interested in parallel path. There is no coherence between both. Student is innovative but can not get help from faculty because faculty is in learning phase. There are chances this kind of research will get prolonged duration and may not finish in time.

Point 2: Student and Faculty both forward path

Both are learning. Better than previous where score is 1. Student is working hard but faculty is also in learning phase so won’t be knowing loopholes in research where papers can be fetched. Student also will spend more time. That is why not higher point.

Point 3: Student and Faculty both parallel path

Faculty knows problem and has some knowledge. Students does as faculty suggests. Student would like to follow this strategy because faster degree and papers will help him in getting job and settle down easily. Ready made problem available for student. Less marks because student is learning application rather than concepts. This kind of students require post doctoral to improve their knowledge.

Point 4: Student Forward and Faculty parallel path

Student is learning and publishing some papers. He will experience the thrill of research via this strategy. New learning, new adventure, new discoveries will give him satisfaction that he learned something. Faculty is also getting promotion. This is best combination since both are getting what they should ideally acquire.

Player: Faculty

Game setup and strategy of faculty

Game setup and strategy of faculty

The ranking is given on the scale of 1 to 4 with worst being 1 and best being 4.

Point 1: Faculty forward path and student parallel path

This is the worst case because no coherence between both. Faculty doesn’t know and want to explore the subject while student is looking for application. Faculty want to learn through student but he will feel that student is living in some alien world and he is messing up with unnecessary stuffs.

Point 2: Both student and faculty forward path

Both learning. Comparatively better than point 1 because atleast both are gaining something. Faculty will be happy because he is also learning but learning only won’t get him promotion right? He requires papers and patents to promoted. So that is why better than point 1 but not so high.

Point 3: Faculty parallel path and student forward path

It is application of the previously know topic to faculty but with forward research path. Ethically faculty should follow this path because he should look at what student is learning rather than his promotion. Usually faculty doesn’t think this because greed for promotion will drive him to follow this strategy. If I explain this with my research then, detonation combustion of coal. This involves all the three modules to be studied but with application of detonation.

Point 4: Both faculty and student parallel path

Student doing as faculty guides. Papers will be fetched. Faculty would like to follow this strategy because he is getting quick PhDs with papers and patents.

Game Setup

Gain and dominant strategy of both players

Gain and dominant strategy of both players

From figure, it can be seen that student’s forward path points are more than his parallel path points. This means student has dominant strategy of forward path because he is gaining knowledge and publication both. On other side, faculty’s parallel path points are more than his forward path. This means faculty has dominant strategy of parallel path because he is able to graduate more students in shorter time duration with many publications and patents leading to more chances of promotion.


Game setup and strategies shows that best research methodology should be student given forward path and faculty given parallel path. What does it mean? It means faculty should give the topic which he already knows and it should be its application. While student will work on that application but he will learn new modules in it. He won’t find problem because faculty knows probable pathway and he can easily guide student. This type of situation usually arises with experienced faculty. Faculty has well established his lab and he knows core concepts of the subject. He has some patents, publications and he can easily guide students. It is not the case with naive faculty because he is learning something and that is why students suffer a lot working under new faculties.