Archive for the ‘Dissertation’ Category

Better Research Basics, One Sentence at a Time

Friday, April 12th, 2013

Breathes there a professor of any subject with soul so dead who never to himself hath said, “Today’s undergraduates are hopeless at research!” (apologies to Sir Walter Scott). It is easy to blame high schools or freshman English classes, but that doesn’t fix our problem. As a frustrated educator of future teachers (Clouse) and a 20-year veteran of teaching college writing and research (Nelson), we obviously sympathize and often feel blamed. We have found that a better approach is an interdisciplinary effort that gives students ample opportunities to practice and develop their writing and research skills. The cumulative effect of this approach not only benefits faculty, but our students seem to appreciate and feel less intimidated working within this method as well.

  • If they can do it once — If students can learn to quote, paraphrase, summarize, and cite sources correctly just one sentence at a time, they can do it 100 times. These basic skills can be taught in easy-to-grade, small assignments. Later when we ask for a 10-to 20-page research paper, or that 100-page dissertation, we can concentrate on the soundness of their research rather than those frustrating mechanics.
  • Do less to get more — Assign students to find an important quote in the day’s assigned reading, cite it correctly, and explain why they chose it. They will keep up with and be more engaged with the reading while learning or polishing basic skills one small step at a time. Correctly paraphrasing just one sentence can convince students to do more than change a word or two.


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Writing Process Steps

Friday, February 1st, 2013
“Write the truest sentence that you know.” – Ernest Hemingway

You fell for them long ago. Words. With time, the relationship has only gotten better. You discovered ideas and entire worlds, great minds and experiences, triumph and tragedy and above all wisdom, in books. You perceive words as ideas clothed in ink and paper. Words give you a high. A beautifully composed sentence or verse is all it takes to make your day. There have been times so moving and overwhelming, that the ideas brewing within your mind, only let you rest in peace, when you have put them on paper. If this is your story, you perhaps have it in you, what it takes to be a wordsmith, a writer. No art can be taught, what’s inborn can only be encouraged at best. The way Hemingway puts it, learning to write the truest sentence, demands that you truly experience life, in all its manifestations. The end result is not the thing to focus upon, it’s the internal process that happens within you. Herein, I share some acquired insight from my own modest writing experience, which might help you improve the process. For me, writing is all about capturing the quintessence of truth, as I see it deep within. Here is something from a fellow wordsmith to the other.

The Process

Writing anything of value is a chaotic process, which varies with every great writer you come across. There is a method to every artistic madness though. One common thing is the hard work they put in behind every line that’s put on paper. For some, the piece of writing just keeps simmering inside for years, taking shape, unknowingly, till it finds expression one day, triggered by a life experience or a powerful thought. One day, the idea, the story, the concept, seizes them by the scruff of their necks and demands to be put down right away. Then they just sit on their typewriter or any other tool of trade like a PC these days and let the words just flow, uncorked and free onto paper, finishing the thing in a few weeks or months.

Some plow slowly, one line at a time, one day at a time, working on every word, taking years to complete a piece of work to their satisfaction. There is no substitute to hard work and know that many hours, weeks and months of work goes into writing that one perfect sentence. As you write and keep writing, you will develop your unique process too. Here are some tips on making the process more interesting, garnered from master writers and storytellers.

Find Your Core Idea
Be it writing a novel, an essay, a thesis or a letter, the place we all stumble is in the beginning. Here what helps you is being clear about the crux of what you want to convey. What is the central thought or story that you wish to convey through your essay or story? What is the central pivot, the core principle, the real issue that you are presenting here? If you know where you are going, knowing where to begin is easier to decide. It is not necessary that you see the central idea in the most clear form right now.

A rough idea about the general direction you are heading is enough for now. What we are looking for now, is substance and not form. For the form to hold and take shape, it must have substance, a solid foundation to build upon. This idea germ, from which your work will emerge in the future, is the one thing, that you need to work upon at this first, but crucial stage. Find your core idea. Choose one which is close to your heart. When you feel passionately about it, writing is a labor of love.

Once the idea that you intend to develop into a novel or the story you want to tell has struck you, the next part is research. Be it fiction or non-fiction, your work needs to be backed by solid research. While getting the facts right is absolutely essential in any work of non-fiction, even in fiction, getting all the little details right adds credibility to your narrative. Through the lens of your writing, the reader is going to piece together a world. It’s your job to add as many details as possible to render each passing frame, to the best of your ability. In works of non-fiction, research helps you gain a balanced perspective and provides credibility to your own thought extrapolations that make the coherent structure of the book. For many writers, especially dabbling in fiction and writing scripts or plays in particular, writing starts right away, in a spontaneous burst of creative flow. There is no one perfect process that works. However, research is an essential step in the writing process.

Fleshing Out an Outline
With the idea clear, thorough research notes at hand, you may begin to create a rough outline of how your book, essay, script or any other work will develop. Mapping such a development curve for your work will provide coherence and help plan your writing at each stage. As I keep repeating, writing styles differ and some writers may just prefer to write in fits and bursts, letting the story develop with time, without pre-determining its form. All depends on the nature of work and your own approach to writing. Still, for some who prefer a systematic approach, an outline does help.

Now Begins the Grind
With your core idea defined, a road map in the form of an outline ready, the real work begins. Now you develop your story, line by line, page by page, chapter by chapter. Like a devout pilgrim, the writer must stay committed to the process and make little progress every day in his literary journey. The creative output will ebb and flow. Sometimes, you may finish dozens of pages in a day, some day, even writing a single page might seem a tough job. The creative process works in mysterious ways and there is no telling when it will appear in full force or when it may completely elude you.

Your job is to show up for work and do the best you can. Without persistence and belief, nothing worthwhile can be achieved. Writing, reading what you have written back again, improving on it, writing it again, till you think, the lines say exactly what you want, may seem like a never ending process. However, the first draft is rarely great and almost always needs reworking. First you get in the raw details, then you polish and sculpt the writing, till you think you could not do any better.

by Omkar Phatak.

Why Are Writing Skills Important?

Monday, January 7th, 2013
Firstly, the term writing has been defined by the Oxford dictionary as the activity or skill of marking coherent words on paper and composing text. Writing is the vital means of communication within an organization. In fact, a survey goes on to say that almost 30% of our work is accomplished through written communication! Therefore, the skills of tactful writing are essential for achieving career and business goals. Apart from the workplace, writing is essential in many other areas as well.

Unfortunately, today, these skills are being neglected. If one wants to achieve his/her goals, the art of superior writing is imperative. There are a variety of methods to enhance and hone your ability to write well. A little effort will go a long way in achieving your goals. This is what sets you apart from your peers. We take a look at some instances where the art of writing is an important asset.

Importance of Writing Skills

Writing is one of the important ways of expressing your thoughts, and communicating ideas and views to others. Some have the innate ability to put their thoughts into words. Writing is more beneficial, specifically for those who are emotional, and do not express verbally. This tool allows them to express their ideas, thoughts or their existing mental condition, which otherwise, may not be possible. People express themselves by writing novels, short stories, biographies, and even personal diaries, etc. Interestingly, 93% of teens in American schools are fond of writing, when it’s not a part of their school curriculum; rather when it is for themselves. So, by proper guidance and counseling, the writing abilities of these teens can be channelized in such a way that, they could stand in good stead in the chosen avenue of their lives.

Judgment of a Person
Often, a person is judged by the quality of writing, he/she possesses. Be it a school, college, workplace or a society, writing has become a vital yardstick to assess one’s knowledge, and intellectuality. When we come across a person who is prim and proper, we immediately make an impression about that person being careful, responsible, and sincere. Similarly, if the writing is devoid of mistakes, we tend to create a good impression about the writer.

Flexibility and Maturity
Writing is an art, which you develop over a period of time. This practice will make you more mature as a writer, because you gradually start putting yourself into the shoes of the reader, and express accordingly. Also, the more you write, the more flexible your vision and thought process become towards the requirements and demands of the readers.

Ability to Explain
While writing, one has to be extra cautious with regard to the tone and tenor of the language, grammar, spellings, etc., so that the reader can decipher the intended meaning of the content. When we write something, there is a tendency to read the content over and over, for possible errors or mistakes. By doing this, we thoroughly understand what we have written, and how we can improve it, to explain to the reader in a simple and concise way what we are trying to convey.

Serves as a Record
Writing skills are important to write our ideas and experiences for future references. For example: scientific and technological accomplishments cannot be communicated verbally. They have to be presented in a written format, such as scientific journals and white papers. Science would not have existed, had the scientists not recorded each and every experiment in a proper written format.


The following areas will throw light on writing as a form of communication.

Business: It is not possible to conduct all transactions by speech alone. If there exists a business project or an opportunity, one needs to send written proposals. The document should have clarity. Electronic mail has become a very popular means of communication in the business world today. This source of communication is used to send business correspondence addressed to customers, clients, associates, business partners, and employees within the organization.
Education: One learns the art of writing in school and college. The skill of expressing one’s thoughts, and communicating ideas and views to others is developed here. Exams are an ideal opportunity to demonstrate this facet. As per a national survey by the Pew Internet & American Life Project, and the National Commission on Writing, both the teenagers and their parents believe that “good writing is a bedrock for future success”. Also, 8 in 10 parents, now, are of the opinion that writing has become more important today, than it was 20 years ago.
Career Planning: When it comes to career planning, written communication skills invariably become the deciding factor. The various entrance exams conducted like: SAT, GRE, ACT, GMAT, etc., assess the verbal and written communication skills of the candidates. Often, candidates who are good at mathematics and analytics, but poor in written communication are also rejected, because the examiners believe that good communication skills – verbal or written – are pivotal for students opting for higher education.
Job Application: A recruiter receives thousands of applications which he sifts through. He has barely enough time to read each individual application. If one needs to be noticed, one must write content, which is impressive and unique. Your credentials must be presented in an elegant and systematic fashion. It should create a favorable impact on the recruiting authority. There should be no grammatical or spelling errors. The content should be concise and lucid. As a matter of fact, there are companies specializing in the art of resume writing.

by Prabhkar Pillai.

Table of Contents Template

Sunday, January 6th, 2013
To most people the table of contents is probably the most conspicuous part of any book and therefore, generally the most ignored part. Many of us tend to just pass over the contents page to what we believe is the actual content of the book. But that does not change the fact that the table of contents is probably what makes or breaks the first impression of a book, research paper, or project report, especially one for academic purposes. Therefore, it is important to understand what the proper format of a table of contents is. This article helps you do the same by giving you a template that you can follow.Format

The most basic of writing tips for any table of contents is that it will start with a header and will give the page numbers for the entire content of the book, research paper, project, or any other document. There are several templates that are available online and even without these templates, it is possible for you to create a table of contents with the help of the desktop applications and office suites that most computers come with.


One of the best ways to take a look at different types of examples of table of contents is to go through different types of books and magazines that you may find around you. The example given below is a very generic sample for a research paper on crime reporting, in the leading newspapers in a city.


Background …………………………… 2-1
Objective …………………………… 2-2
Methods …………………………… 2-3
Crime Record in the City
3.1 Crime over the Years …………………………… 3-1
3.2 Area wise Crime Rate …………………………… 3-2
3.3 History of Convictions …………………………… 3-4
Representation of Crime in TA Gazette
4.1 Overall Coverage of Crime …………………………… 4-1
4.2 Quantitative Analysis …………………………… 4-2
4.3 Qualitative Analysis …………………………… 4-5
Representation of Crime in Morning News
5.1 Overall Coverage of Crime …………………………… 5-1
5.2 Quantitative Analysis …………………………… 5-2
5.3 Qualitative Analysis …………………………… 5-3
Comparative Analysis between TA Gazette and Morning News
6.1 Quantitative Analysis …………………………… 6-1
6.2 Qualitative Analysis …………………………… 6-6
Conclusion …………………………… 7-1
Appendix …………………………… 8-2

Hope that this article on drafting a table of contents will help you format a proper contents table the next time you need to draft one for your purposes.

by Tulika Nair.

How to Write an Appendix

Wednesday, October 3rd, 2012

Any piece of writing can have an appendix. An appendix is basically a list of different explanations, definitions, citations, and proofs, which provide a better understanding of the written matter. An appendix can be attached to essays, proofs, intellectual works, thesis papers, reports, books, pamphlets or research publications, and basically anything that is written for enlightenment and knowledge. An important preparation before writing an appendix is keeping your research material ready with you.

General Contents of an Appendix

Following are some of the common contents of an appendix. As mentioned above, anything that adds to the knowledge and depth of the write-up, can be included in an appendix. Given below are categories of information that you could use in an appendix:

  • Citations: Sometimes also known as a ‘reference’, a citation is a reference to some other piece of writing. Quotes and statements can also be used as a citation. In some cases, theories, definitions, formulas, ideologies, interpretations and intellectual works can be included too.
  • Questionnaires and Surveys: If you have undertaken a specified questionnaire or survey to add credibility to your writing, then the summarized results of the surveys, illustrations and applied statistical formulas can also be included.
  • News and Press Releases: News and press releases are often used for extensive research, and they can therefore be used in the appendix.
  • Proofs: In case you have included some complex mathematics or have proved or interpreted a fact, including the same in the appendix becomes important.
  • Bibliography: While doing any research, you must have referred to several books. These books or some direct reference from a book can also be used to support a fact mentioned in the write-up.
  • Index of Terms or Glossary: Throughout the write-up, you would be using a significant number of technical words in different manners and contexts. Complex and unknown words can be mentioned in the appendix along with their dictionary meanings to make the entire write-up even better.

Make it a point to systematically store your entire research, as all the aforementioned content which you would be including in the appendix is going be derived from your research material.

Tips on How to Write an Appendix

The step-by-step instructions to write an appendix are given below.

  • The first step is to decide which method you are going to follow. There are two primary methods to write the appendix. The first one is the simultaneous method, and the second one is the non-simultaneous method. You can pick any one of these. In the first method, you have to write the content of the write-up and appendix simultaneously. In the non-simultaneous method, you first finish the write-up and then write the appendix.
  • Based on the different parts or chapters of your write-up, sort out and classify your entire research material into parts or chapters.
  • Next, you can start with the actual write-up. If you come across a phrase, term, a single word, or even a single fact, which has been derived from your research, and if you feel that it needs to be explained in the appendix, put a small numerical or alpha numerical code following the word(s). For example: [1.1] where the first 1 stands for Chapter 1 and the second 1 stands for the 1st term explained. Similarly, your [1.2] would denote the 2nd term explained in the 1st chapter, [2.1] would denote the 1st term explained in the second chapter.
  • Once you are done with this work, add some useful details for reference. In order to explain the numbered phrase/term, write the details, explanations, formulas, definitions or theories in a few short lines in an explanatory language. The explanation should follow the code [1.1]. In this manner, if a person reading your work comes across a difficult word which he/she is not able to understand, then he would look at the code, [1.1], turn to the appendix and read the explanation that follows [1.1] in the appendix.

Follow this format till the end of the write-up. After you are finished with the write-up and the appendix, attach the appendix to the write-up.

by Shashank Nakate

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How to Write a Bibliography

Wednesday, October 3rd, 2012

A bibliography is a list of resources used when compiling a research paper or book. This list is used by readers for a couple of reasons. It is used as a resource for other books on the same topic it is also used to verify the accuracy of the information either in your research paper or in a book. It is also used to give proper credit to the authors of your resources and to prove that you are not plagiarizing or stealing. This article will discuss the MLA method of how to do a bibliography properly.

When writing the author’s name only include the name and any indication of their status as Sr. or Jr. as well as I,II, III etc. Such as Beck, John Jr. Or Smith, Tom III. Do not include any titles that reference job positions such as Rev., MD, or Phd. The last name is always placed first with the first name and middle names afterwards: Smith, John Jr; Jones, David Thomas III.

Title/Subtitle of the Piece
1) Only use the title as it is listed on the title page.
2) Underline the titles and subtitles of publications: book, magazine, newspaper, encyclopedia, journal, or periodical
3) Should the name of a newspaper not include the city in its title, then place the name of the city in square brackets after the title: example The Independent [Colorado Springs].
4) Titles of articles should not be underlined, but should be put in quotation marks.
Example: “Great Campgrounds in Colorado” The Independent [Colorado Springs]
5) Capitalize the first word of both the title and subtitle and except for articles, prepositions and conjunctions the rest of the important words in the titles.
Example: The Law of Attraction: How to Get Everything You Want

Place of Publication
1) Don’t use places of countries, nations, counties, or states.
2) Only use city or town names
3) This is only necessary when using citing books, it is not necessary for any other resources.
4) The abbreviation n.p. when no place is provided.
5) When citing cities it is only necessary to cite the state or province when it will cause confusion or it is not well-known:
Examples: Pittsfield, Ma:, Sidney, Ne:, Medicine Hat, Ab:

1) Be sure to check and use only the location of the publisher, not the printer. If no printer is given, use, n. p. for this as well
2) If more than one publisher is given write them all down with the year for each publication.
Example: Uptown Riders 1920; New York: Doubleday; 1935; Provincetown, NJ: Smithhouse Publishing Co.
3) Shorten the name of the publisher, Macmillan, not Macmillan Publishing Co.
4) Publisher is only used for Books, not newspapers, magazines etc.

Date of Publication
1) If no date is found, then use, n. d. (no date). For several dates use the most recent date out of the list. Do not confuse printings or reprintings with publication dates.
2) For weekly publications use the format: date, month, year
Example: Newsweek 07 Sept 1962
3)For a seasonal publication or one that is quarterly use the month and year or season and year. Do not abbreviate May, June and July, only abbreviate all the other months. Use the period only for abbreviations, not after the other 3 months. Example: Jan., May, June, July
Example: Yoga Journal Winter 2007, Outfront May 2007, Mother Earth News March 1999
4) Do use only the date, do not use the copyright symbol or write out the word.
5) If you are unable to locate the actual publication date, but are able to get a reliable date from other sources use square brackets to indicate that you supplied the date.
Example: Mother Earth News [2005?] or [c. 2005] c. means Circa or around the date listed.

Page Numbers
1) Page numbers are necessary for books, only if it is a part of a book as in a collection of essays or other works. Also if you can’t find the page number listed the put “n. page.”
2) If page numbers are not in order, as in a page with an advertisement is in the article, then you are only required to put the first page of the article with a plus sign.
Example: Smith, John J. “How to Decorate Your Bedroom Better” Good Housekeeping Magazine July-August p12+

Standard MLA Style
1) It is common practice with the MLA style to indent either 5 spaces or ½ inch from the left margin. Put the data on one line and then continue on a second line indented again. So with MLA format the information for a book would look like this:
Author. Title: Subtitle. City or town: Publisher, Year of publication
When listing an citation of more than one book for one author, only list the author in the first citation.
2) For magazines and items than a book use this format:
Author. “Title: Subtitle of article.” Title of Magazine etc.
Day Month Year of publication: Page number(s).

by Jayashree Pakhare.

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How to Reference a Website

Friday, September 28th, 2012

Using quotes makes you look quite a reader and ‘well aware’ of things, but what you really need to know when giving a reference or citation is how to give credit to the source. Here, we will learn about referencing a website in different formats, so read about the same in the different sections of this article.

To start with, I would just like to say that while giving reference, you have to mention all the obvious things that come to your mind while you are reading something from somewhere, like the name of the author, the website, the address or the link of the web page, the date of publication or when the reference has been taken, etc. In short, all the logical things that anyone would look for and need if he or she wishes to go to that particular source of information, need to be mentioned. While knowing the way of referencing a website or any other material; will sure save you from plagiarism issues, but along with that, you will really be helping your reader too by providing the details. The reader can always go and refer to the source for additional and more detailed information.

The popular and most recognized ways of referencing something are the MLA and APA formats. So find information on referencing a website in both the formats under the following subheads. Though they are quite similar, there are some minor differences in both these formats of providing citations.

Referencing a Website using the MLA Format

Author’s Name
Modern Language Association of America is what MLA stands for and you need the name of the author, which should be written starting with the surname of the author and then the name. Speaking of the alignment, this has to placed on the left hand side of your page.

Please keep in mind to put a period, i.e. a comma, in this particular case after mentioning the author’s last name. For example:

Earnest, Torque

Web Page Title
After the name of the author comes the title of the web page, separated by a period, a full stop in this case. The title has to be in the double inverted commas. For example:

Earnest, Torque. “Best Animation Schools”

After having mentioned the title of the web page, i.e. the particular article or write-up you have referred too, comes the website that has posted it. And again here it has to be separated with a period, a space in this case. Remember, both are different things, the title and the website. So it would like the following:

Earnest, Torque. “Best Animation Schools”

Variations you can apply here are:

Earnest, Torque. “Best Animation Schools”

Earnest, Torque. “Best Animation Schools”

Publishing Date
Follow the DD/MM/YY format for mentioning the publishing date of the article.

Earnest, Torque. “Best Animation Schools” 13 Jan 2011 OR
Earnest, Torque. “Best Animation Schools” 13 January 2011

This section is optional and is valid in case of academic websites only. The name of the publisher has to follow the publishing date, like shown below.

Earnest, Torque. “Best Animation Schools” 13 January 2011: Publisher’s Name

Date of Reference
Mention the date of reference when you took the reference from the website. This will serve two purposes. One, the reader will come to know how old the article is and secondly, in case the writer or the website owner has made any alterations in the article, you will be saved from the allegations of infringement of intellectual property rights, if any.

Earnest, Torque. “Best Animation Schools” 13 January 2011: Publisher’s Name 14 Jan 2011

The Link
Earnest, Torque. “Best Animation Schools” 13 January 2011: Publisher’s Name 14 Jan 2011 “”

Referencing a Website in APA Format

APA stands for American Psychological Association and knowing how to cite a website in this particular format, I would just illustrate the same with an example, contrary to the step by step process as given above. So here is the format followed by the example:

Author’s Surname, Author’s Name (Publishing Date) Title of the Article MM/DD/YY “”

Earnest, Torque (2011) Best Animation Schools 01/14/11 “”

by Torque Earnest.

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How to Write an Abstract

Monday, September 24th, 2012

An abstract is a brief and crisp summary of a larger piece of written work. Even though the abstract is not a part of the original writing work, it should be written in such a manner that it can pass off on its own and can be easily understood without referring the main text. It should contain certain important facts from the main article and avoid mentioning anything that is not present in the main article. The main purpose of the abstract should be to divert the reader to the main article once he has gone through the abstract. People generally write abstracts when they need to submit articles for journals, writing their PhD dissertations, or when they need to apply for research grants.

Abstracts can be broadly classified into two types, Descriptive abstracts and Informative abstracts. Descriptive abstracts are mostly short and are considered to be more of an overview of the article rather than a summary. This type of an abstract contains information on the purpose of the article and methods used to reach the findings. A book proposal, a research grant application and a conference paper proposal are descriptive abstract examples. Informative abstracts on the other hand are longer, apart from the purpose and method of research it also include a conclusion and recommendations about the research topic. Informative abstract examples include abstracts for a M.A thesis or a PhD. dissertation.

Guidelines on Writing an Abstract

  • The abstract should always be written after finishing the main article. Once the whole article is written, go through it once again and understand the main theme and important highlights, to include them in the abstract.
  • It should be kept in mind that an abstract has to be original and separate from the main article, not lifted directly from the main article. Prepare a rough draft which is like a summary of the article with totally different and new words from the ones used in the main article. It is alright if the rough draft is a bit long, as it will require further editing.
  • If the abstract is meant to be put up on the internet, it is important to read the article again, note down certain crucial concepts which can be used as keywords which will help in the article search. Include these keywords in the abstract to improve chances of the article being searched online.
  • The first sentence of the abstract should deliver the central concept of the article to the reader. It should be more like a statement of purpose for the article.
  • The body should contain a brief description of the article topic in about one or two paragraphs. Again, if the abstract is for the internet, keywords should be smartly included in the body of the abstract without cluttering them.
  • The conclusion should be summed up within a couple of sentences and should leave the reader wanting more. Thus directing him to your main article.
  • Once the abstract is ready, it may require some editing to meet certain requirements. It is better to revisit the abstract after a couple of days for the editing as it can bring in a fresh perspective on the changes which need to be made. Keep it simple and clear without compromising on the main points of the article.

To learn how to write an informative abstract on a particular research topic, include the below listed components in the abstract:

  • The problem statement or motivation for writing the research paper. It means the basic purpose for undertaking the research and what are the scientific or practical implications of the research.
  • The research methodology or the approach taken to conduct the research should be stated.
  • Results or findings from the research along with the knowledge gained from completing the research by the above mentioned procedure should be given.
  • Lastly, the conclusion of the whole experiment along with the significance of the findings and most importantly, has the purpose stated in the 1st step, has been achieved or not should be mentioned.

A Few Tips on Abstract Writing

  • Prior to writing an abstract, just note down all thoughts and ideas on a piece of paper. It becomes easier to group common ideas together and also prioritize thoughts and include them in the abstract accordingly.
  • Do not write a very long abstract. It should ideally be a couple of paragraphs long and around 150 to 200 words. While editing the abstract, remove all irrelevant information without compromising on the main theme of the article.
  • Find out around 6 to 8 keywords regarding the article which people usually search online. Include these keywords smartly in the abstract to get a better search result listing when people search for it on the net.
  • Be careful about not giving out totally new information in the abstract, just give a preview of what is already there in the main article. Take a second opinion from a friend or family member after writing the abstract, to gain an outsider’s perspective on the same. Going through a few sample abstracts before starting one, helps in getting a fair idea on the type of abstract to be written

There are professional writers available who very well know how to do this even for other people’s work.

by Suketu Mehta.

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Teaching Research and Writing Skills: Not Just for Introductory Courses

Friday, September 21st, 2012

Most professors want students to know how to research and write in their fields. In fact, many degree programs now have introductory courses for majors with content that addresses these research and writing basics. However, the assumption that students learn everything they need in one course is a faulty one. All of us who teach courses for majors need to regularly revisit this content if students are to develop these research and writing abilities. Let me be specific and suggest six things professors can do that help students improve in both areas.

1. Show them how to find appropriate research sources and methods. Introductory courses do a fine job of giving students an overview of research; however, in subcategories within disciplines, research can be conducted very differently. Students writing papers on Chaucer will approach research one way, while those examining contemporary literature will tackle their subjects differently. Thus, professors need to show students how researching their particular areas differs from more general approaches, whether that involves taking the students to an archive, helping them develop surveys, getting librarians working with them on primary texts, or showing them how to design an experiment.

2. Teach them the structure of articles in the field. Again, articles in subfields of the same discipline structure content quite differently, and students do not automatically see those structures. In my upper-division courses, I have students outline two critical articles, looking specifically at the location of the thesis (and subtheses, where appropriate), how explanatory footnotes are used, what types of sources the author used, and the overall structure of the argument.

3. Give them student work to examine. By showing work from previous students, professors can make clear what worked in those papers and where students fell short. If we only provide students with professional work, we miss opportunities to talk about those places where students often struggle, especially with structure. Frequently, students do not value the work of other students. Thus, professors need to provide positive models that show what students are capable of and that clarify our expectations.

4. Have them evaluate and defend their sources. In my first few years of teaching, I would see students’ papers refer to leaders in the field, but reading the papers showed me that students did not recognize the importance of these people. I would often write notes about their importance, but, by then, it was really too late for them to use that information.

5. Set aside time for peer review. For some reason, we tend to think that peer review (or peer editing) works best in beginning composition courses. After that, we assume students don’t need it or that they will do it on their own. However, as professionals we know that peer input is always valuable.

6. Make them write multiple drafts. Again, we assume that in those early courses students learn the value of a writing process that includes revision and rewriting.

by Kevin Brown, PhD.

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Data Collection Techniques

Monday, September 10th, 2012

Research is widely used by professionals in almost all sectors of the industry; be it business, manufacturing, medical, education, etc. To carry out a thorough research, you need to follow some essential steps with regards to the collection of data. And when it come to research as a whole, data collection techniques are important aspects to be considered. Data collection is a method in which information related to the study is gathered by suitable mediums.

Types of Data in Research

The types of data are basically classified on the basis of their collection methods and their characteristics. Primary data is that which is collected first hand by the researcher himself, without relying on any kind of pre-researched information. Common techniques are interviews and questionnaires. On the other hand, secondary data is that which is collected from other means, instead of the researcher’s. Few examples of secondary data include government census and company surveys.

Data classification in also made on the basis of attributes of the data; namely qualitative and quantitative. The difference between qualitative and quantitative research is that the former one relates to data that is descriptive in nature and does not involve numbers and statistics. Whereas, the latter is the data which is numerical and has a lot to do with numbers and figures. A good researcher will always back up qualitative data with quantitative data.

Data Collection Techniques in Research

Personal Interviews
Conducting personal interviews is probably the best method of data collection to gain first hand information. It is however, unsuitable in cases where there are many people to be interviewed and questioned.

Questionnaires are good methods of data collection when there is a need for a particular class of people to be questioned. The researcher can prepare a questionnaire according to the data he requires and send it to the responders.

Detailed Observation
Data can also most effectively be obtained with means of observational skills. The researcher can visit a place and take down details of all that he observes which is actually required for aiding in his research. Here, the researcher has to make sure that what he is observing is real.

Group Discussions
Group discussions are good techniques where the researcher has to know what the people in a group think. He can come to a conclusion based on the group discussion which may even involve good debate topics of research.

Internet Data
The Internet is an ocean of data, where you can get a substantial amount of information for research. However, researchers need to remember that they should depend on reliable sources on the web for accurate information.

Books and Guides
These data collection techniques are the most traditional ones that are still used in today’s research. Unlike the Internet, it is sure that you will get good and accurate information from books and published guides.

Using Experiments
Sometimes, for obtaining the full understanding of the scenario, researchers have to conduct actual experiments on the field. Research experiments are usually carried out in fields such as science and manufacturing. This is the best method for gaining an in-depth understanding of the subject related to the research.

There are many other methods of data collection which may help the researcher to draw statistical as well as conceptual conclusions.

by Stephen Rampur.

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