I am currently doing my masters dissertation, I have to write a 15,000 word research paper on a topic in an area of my choice related to my masters degree course (MSc Information Security & Digital Forensics). Although the word count isn’t too bad, I have written more in a month for NaNoWriMo, the searching for and reading existing research papers on and around the topic area is a large task, especially when you have chosen a topic that is still in its infancy. I also have to have a practical element to the paper I finally submit, so once I have read enough papers in my topic area, I need to try out some things, see if I can see a way to work a new angle on the current problems or at least find an angle that doesn’t work. I have to write all this up as I go along, then discuss my findings and offer some conclusions and further areas that need to be looked into more.
Meeting With supervisor
After my last post, I met with my supervisor and spoke to him about my dissertation topic because I did not feel the topic I handed in on my proposal was quite right, plus we had not been given ideas on what sort of things were considered a practical – I didn’t know if was I expected to code a tool, or set up a test situation, or something else entirely. My supervisor could see that I was a bit stressed out about everything so he was really great and we started at the beginning, talking about what topic I wanted to do and then using the original topic area as a starting point so we could discuss examples of what could be done for various specific areas within the topic area as a whole. My initial worry with the topic area that he had originally given me papers to read through was that I did not have a background in the area, he said however, that I was still more than capable of doing something in that area. When I wrote the proposal I handed in I was clutching at straws as the deadline was fast coming and I literally had nothing, so I had a proper last-minute idea and just ran with it – it wasn’t the best idea although it was about an area that is particularly relevant in the field at present, but the more I thought about it after I handed my proposal in the more anxious I felt about it! A definite warning sign that this was not the right way for me to go!
Once my supervisor had gone through things in more detail, I felt much more confident about my topic area – the orignal one was back in the game, meaning all the papers I had already read could be put to good use. I now just needed to locate some more and narrow down my focus a bit more. The topic area I am now looking at for my dissertation is: Digital Forensics in Software Defined Networks (DF in SDN). The part of the topic that I was ok with from the start has been the Digital Forensics bit, however I do not have a networking background, although I have set up my own network at home, made my Raspberry Pi into a web server, and I have used virtual computers and have set them up on my own computer, I had not even got a clue what a SDN was this time last year, well past guessing at what it was from the title itself.
Once I had looked SDN up and had done some of the reading, I already had some ideas forming about what research the papers were saying was needed next surrounding SDN. Going back to these ideas to work out which area specifically to hone in on was a little more complicated than I initially thought, I learnt a few more helpful things whilst trying to narrow my selection from the research papers I was finding, but they lead me to several more ideas that also needed exploring before either ruling them in or out. But I have now made a bit of a start so that is a relief to say the least! I just need to get a solid chunk of my literature review done and I will feel like I’m on top of it all.