More on writing my thesis with LaTex

As I mentioned previously, I am writing my thesis using the LaTeX markup system, and thought I would put together a few words on my experience and things I have found. This includes formatting tables, including acronyms, and larger landscape figures/tables. I am sure there are many other ways to to achieve the same result, but these are the ones I have found to work.

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And so the thesis writing begins

After nearly three years of research, I have started the long and arduous process of writing up. I am going to use LaTeX to compile my writing, mainly because it makes it easier to make beautiful looking documents. Also word processing packages have a nasty habit of corrupting the formatting, and make numbering of equations difficult.

In January I pulled together my notes and various bits of writing into a first semblance of a structure. I had started most of the writing in Word, but using the LibreOffice export plugin I have mentioned previously, I was able to convert this to basic LaTeX fairly easily. I have since added in plots from MATLAB, which I had been avoiding inserting into Word, as it doesn’t handle images in a sensible vector format (e.g. SVG, EPS, PDF). Continue reading “And so the thesis writing begins”

Research update: optimism and pessimism

With about nine months to go until I am due to hand in my thesis, I am periodically cycling between optimism and pessimism as to how I am progressing. I know that I have managed to pull together a reasonably solid body of work, which my supervisors assure me will be sufficient to complete my doctorate. There is still the small matter of finishing this off, and writing it up in a coherent manner, which I know will take time and effort, but I do still have a few months for this.

That said, there is a nagging concern that I’ve not done enough. I have often heard it said that after a Ph.D., one knows everything there is to know about a tiny specialised area of knowledge, having pushed the boundary of human knowledge in a small but measurable way. This feels like the opposite to my research — I have looked at quite a broad range of topics, but covered none of them in that much detail, or so it seems.

As I am working towards an Engineering Doctorate (Eng.D.) it needs to be focused on the requirements of the sponsoring company, and as such producing a portfolio of work is quite normal, as far as I understand. I am also lucky to be based at a new and unique facility, working in a relatively little studied area of marine energy. Therefore it is perhaps easier in some respects to do novel research, as fewer people have already published on similar topics. Conversely, my research doesn’t fit into a well defined gap in existing knowledge, so setting limits on what is and isn’t important becomes more critical in order to produce a coherent piece of work. In the words of Steve Jobs, there’s always “one more thing”.

The insomnia isn’t helping though…

Overdue update on research progress

I realise that I’m very much overdue an update on my research progress, having posted very little so far and nothing in the last year.

Things are generally going well, although I still feel there is a lot to do and only a limited amount of time to do it in. This feeling of pressure is probably due to my colleague Sam, who is a year ahead of me in the IDCORE programme, frantically trying to get his thesis finished off this week. I know that I don’t need to be at the same stage as him — that I have 12 months of funding left — and that I am fairly well advanced with my research. But that doesn’t stop the nagging feeling of not having enough time left.

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European Wave and Tidal Energy Conference, Nantes

Thoughts about my 2015 trip to Nantes where I presented my research at the EWTEC conference.

At the start of September 2015, I travelled to Nantes in western France, to attend the 11th European Wave and Tidal Energy Conference (EWTEC). As part of the conference, I presented my research on measurements of the current generation in FloWave. Continue reading “European Wave and Tidal Energy Conference, Nantes”

First research outputs

I have been working towards the first outputs from my research, which will be at a couple of academic conferences this year.

Firstly, I will be presenting a poster at the European Geosciences Union General Assembly 2015 in Vienna, on the work we have been doing on “Wave-current interactions at the FloWave Ocean Energy Research Facility”. This will be in Session NP7.3 on Wednesday 15th April, just in case you happen to be there, do drop by and say hello. I feel slightly intimidated to be presenting as part of a session on non-linear physics of wave-current interactions, as this is not my speciality by any means. But hopefully people will be interested by the potential for interesting research at FloWave, as this is more what I have concentrated on.

The other main piece of work I have been busy with is a paper for the European Wave and Tidal Energy Conference (EWTEC), in Nantes this September. This is on the initial characterisation and spatial variability of the currents generated at FloWave. Again, I think the interesting and novel aspect of this topic is more focussed on the facility, rather than my analysis, but I have got a good chunk of data to present and discuss.

More details to follow once I have finished this work, and actually get to publicly present it. So far I’ve only had to present the outline of my work at an internal event, which hardly counts as a proper academic grilling!

Research tools

Whilst I have not been at this research malarkey very long, several people have made suggestions for useful software, in addition to my own past experience. I have put some notes/links below on various tools that should help towards the process of research. Hopefully this might be of interest to others, and feel free to add your suggestions below.

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Taught component over, now onto the research

Nearly six months ago, I finished the taught component of my EngD, and moved on to the research phase. My project is looking at physical scale modelling of offshore renewable energy devices in the new FloWave facility at the University of Edinburgh. This is claimed to be the world’s most advanced ocean simulator, a 25m diameter circular wave tank that can also create currents to simulate the tides, and can produce waves and current in any direction.


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First semester finished

I have just completed the first semester of my course. The course organisers were not joking when they described the taught section of the course as “intensive”. So far we have covered six modules, in each going from knowing comparatively little, to writing reports and presenting on the subject for 10-15 minutes just two weeks later! Continue reading “First semester finished”