Introduction to Research - 2021

By KP Mohanan

Introduction to Research - 2021

By KP Mohanan

Course Webpage -

Till last year, I was teaching an elective course called Introduction to Research (ITR) for students of IISER-Pune. This was a course without grades, credits, or exams, open to all students (Year-1 BS-MS to PhD), with no prerequisites other than:  

(a)  the 'knowledge' one can expect of someone who has completed Grade 10;
(b)  intellectual curiosity across subjects; and
(c)  the motivation to develop the capacity for inquiry and critical thinking across disciplinary boundaries, as the foundation for specialised research abilities.

The COVID situation prevented the course from being run in 2020. However, I hope to resume it soon.

COVID has accelerated the switch of education from the face-to-face classroom mode to the virtual format, using webinars, videos, and discussion forums. For this course, the switch is an advantage: it allows the course to be opened beyond IISER-Pune to all interested students regardless of the college they are officially registered in.

Research is the process of inquiry that aims to make a contribution to the existing body of academic knowledge. The goal of this course is to help learners develop the capacity for academic inquiry, leading to the ability to construct and evaluate theories and theoretical positions. The course contributes to helping students develop the abilities for research, regardless of the discipline they are pursuing, or the level at which they are pursuing it.

The modes of academic inquiry that the course deals with are mathematical inquiry, scientific inquiry, conceptual inquiry, and value inquiry. Scientific inquiry includes experiential inquiry (covering observing and introspecting), and theoretical inquiry. ‘Value' covers epistemic, ethical, and aesthetic values, among others. Conceptual inquiry spans all disciplines and interleaves with all modes.

The aim of the course is helping learners develop the capacity to come up with, critically evaluate, and establish theories and theoretical claims. Specifics such as experimental research, quantitative research, and instrumental research in science will be viewed as ways of testing predictions of theories. The perspective of the course involves a shift from the textbook concept of hypothesis testing to the concept of prediction testing in building and evaluating theories. Put differently, the aim of the course is to provide the foundations on which discipline-specific research abilities can be built.   

Given sufficient interest, the course will begin in the second week of February, with weekly online sessions that will be held LIVE on YouTube. If you would like to receive reading material related to the course, please register at the form linked here. There is no course fee.

The live sessions are likely to be from 7 pm to 8 pm on Wednesdays.

You can read a more detailed Introduction to the Course here.

Here are some Frequently Asked Questions about the course.

If you have questions, please reach out at

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