Research Support

STEP 1: Identify and Define Your Topic
 

Thoroughly understand what you are looking for and define your topic, Identify the main concepts or keywords in your question.

 
Ask yourself:
 

- What type of information is needed? Books? Journal articles? Web resources?

- What amount of information is needed?

- Why is the information needed? Patient care? Research? Grant proposal?

 

You need to look for alternative terms or keywords that describe each concept to use as search terms.

 

STEP 2: Select the Appropriate Resource and Know How to Search It Well

 
Once you have identified the question, the type, and amount of information needed for your purpose, select the appropriate information resource - it may be a database to locate recent journal articles, a catalog to find books, or a Web search engine to identify a practice guideline.

 

Before you search:
 

 - Understand the structure and content of the resource being used.

 
 - Translate your topic into the subject language of the indexes, databases, and catalogs you use.
 
 
 - Know how to build successful search strategies using Boolean logic and field searching.
 
 
 - Limit the search as needed. Consider such limitations as: language, human or animal subjects, age groups, and years.
 
 
 - Know how to alter a search if your first attempt is unsuccessful. Know how to find more information by broadening your search and how to find less information by limiting your search.
 
 
 - Print search strategy for documentation.
 
 
 - Know how to interpret your citations and link out to full-text resources.
 
 
 - Understand the process of copying, saving, downloading, e-mailing and printing your search results.

 

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General Presentation Guidelines

 

There are five general guidelines you must remember when creating PowerPoint presentations, they are:
 

- Do not use capital letters extensively. Using Caps Lock when typing content makes it harder to read for people. Instead you can use Bold, Italic or Underlined text to make sections stand out.

 
- Do not use more than six bulleted references per slide. If you do, slides can be harder to read and may also have a lengthy narration that can lose the audience's attention.
 
 
- All slides should have a title. If the content is a continuation of the last slide, simply name the slide "Last Slide's Title - Continued".
 
 
- Standardize your font. You should have no more than two font types in your whole presentation (one for titles and one for content).
 
 
- Keep image files small. When inserting images into your presentation, make sure you have saved them as either jpeg, jpg or gif. These image types are smaller than bmp or tif and will allow you to transfer the presentation faster.

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How to publish a scientific paper
 
By Sharon Downes, Australian National University
 
 
 
When to publish:
 

- Now!!!!! Now!!!!! Now!!!!!

 
- If you've just started a PhD, write a review on your research topic.
 
 
- If you've started collecting data, publish your results along the way.
 
 
- If you're writing your thesis, publish chapters as papers.
 
 
What to publish:
 

- Full-length contributed articles are around 5000 words. They usually are made of a series of experiments that form a coherent story.

 
- Short notes are around 2000 words. They usually are made of one or two experiments that are stand alone pieces of work.
 
 
- General rule: its better to publish one solid contributed paper than it is to split the same work into two or three short notes!
 
 
- Articles in edited books are usually less prestigious than journal articles. First publish your data in a journal then consider publishing in a book. But do publish a review article of a research topic in an edited book.
 
 
Where to publish:
 
 
- Spend time to select the right journal!
 
 
- Seek advice from an experienced publisher in your field.
 
 
- Scan current contents for journals matching the paper topic.
 
 
- Read articles from recent issues of potential journals.
 
 
- Examine the "References" section of your paper for common journals.
 
 
- Final decision will depend on:

   (i) prestige (always go for the best topic based journals).

   (ii) time to publish (as indicated on first page of every paper).

   (iii) past performance (avoid journals that consistently reject papers).

   (iv) animal care and ethics (avoid British journals on animal behaviour).

 
Submitting the paper:
 

- Follow instructions to authors (usually given on last page of journal).

 
- Format paper accordingly.
 
 
- Provide correct number of copies of paper.
 
 
- Include all required information in a cover letter with the paper
 
 
- The players:

   o Managing Editor (deals with administration)

    o Editor (selects reviewers; makes final decision on acceptance)

    o Reviewers (experts in the paper topic; editors choose reviewers whose work is cited in paper and who are not mentioned in the acknowledgments).
 
 
Review of paper:
 

- Example check list:

* Is the paper too long?

* Is the paper well organised?

* Are the design and analysis sound?

* Do the conclusions follow from the results?

* Has the author cited all relevant references?

* Are all the tables and figures necessary?

* Are the title and abstract fully descriptive of the text?

* Any ethical concerns with the paper?

* Are the statistics satisfactory?

 
Possible recommendations:
 

* Acceptance with little or no revisions

 
* Acceptance provided that revisions are carried out according to the reviews specific comments
 
 
* Rejection but allow re-submission after major revision
 
 
* Rejection
 
 
Revising the paper:
 
 
- Check the time limit given for re-submission.
 
 
- Wait at least a few days before revising the paper.
 
 
- Write a cover letter to the editor addressing ALL reviewers' comments.
 
 
- Don't attack the reviewer.
 
 
- Don't be intimidated by the reviewer.
 
 
- Address criticisms and refute them if you think you are right.
 
 
- Be polite and indicate that you are doing everything possible and more.
 
 
Re-submitting the paper:
 

- Follow instructions from Editor.

 
- Proof-read carefully.
 
 
- Include good laser copies of figures and tables.
 
 
- Indicate current date on cover page.
 
 
Proofs:

ยท Galley proofs will arrive shortly before publishing paper.

 
ยท Cross-check with original version carefully.
 
 
ยท Respond within 24 hours of receiving proofs.
 
 
ยท Indicate precise changes in a cover letter.
 
 
Dealing with rejection:
 

- A typical paper of average quality submitted to a ranking journal has less than 33% chance of getting a good report from a reviewer.

 
- Everyone must deal with having a paper rejected.
 
 
- Wait before revising paper in line with reviewers comments.
 
 
- Sometimes it may be appropriate to challenge the reviewer's decision.
 
 
- Don't be discouraged!
 
 
- Re-submit to another journal within a month of rejection.
 

General advice:

 
ยท Keep a log book of all paper and the various stages they are at.
 
 
ยท Ask your supervisor to review papers on your research topic or write to journal editors asking to review papers.
 
 
ยท Do a book review!
 
 
ยท Don't give up!
 
 
ยท Start publishing now!

Tips to Write Your Thesis or Dissertation

 

Introduction

This guide has been created to assist graduate students in thinking through the many aspects of crafting and implementing a thesis or dissertation. Here are some of Basic ideas that definitely make the task of finishing a graduate degree so much easier, Hoping it will help in finishing your graduate degree in good shape. Good luck and good researching!

 

Tips Points

 

- The Primary Thinking

1. Be inclusive with your thinking.
2. Write down your ideas.
3. Don't be overly influenced by others-it's your research.
4. Try and set a realistic goal.
5. Set appropriate time lines.
6. Take a leave of absence when it will do the most good.
7. Try a preliminary study to help clarify your research.

- Writing The Thesis Or Dissertation

8. Begin writing with sections you know the best.
9. Rewrite your protocol into dissertation sections.

10. Use real names/places in early drafts of dissertation.
11. Print each draft on a different color paper.
12. Use hand drawings of graphics/tables for early drafts.
13. Make your writing clear and unambiguous.
14. Review other dissertations before you begin to write.
15. Introduce tables in the text, present the table and then describe it.
16. Use similar or parallel wording whenever possible.
17. Let your Table of Contents help you improve your manuscript.
18. Write real conclusions and implications - don't restate your findings.
19. Make your Suggestions for Further Research meaningful.
20. Chapter One should be written last.

 

THE PRIMARY THINKING

1. Be inclusive with your thinking.Don't try to eliminate ideas too quickly. Build on your ideas and see how many different research projects you can identify. Give yourself the luxury of being expansive in your thinking at this stage -- you won't be able to do this later on. Try and be creative.

 

2. Write down your ideas. This will allow you to revisit an idea later on. Or, you can modify and change an idea. If you don't write your ideas they tend to be in a continual state of change and you will probably have the feeling that you're not going anywhere. What a great feeling it is to be able to sit down and scan the many ideas you have been thinking about, if they're written down.

 

3. Try not to be overly influenced at this time by what you feel others expect from you (your colleagues, your profession, your academic department, etc.). You have a much better chance of selecting a topic that will be really of interest to you if it is your topic. This will be one of the few opportunities you may have in your professional life to focus in on a research topic that is really of your own choosing.

 

4. Don't begin your thinking by assuming that your research will draw international attention to you!! Instead, be realistic in setting your goal. Make sure your expectations are tempered by:

-  the realization that you are fulfilling an academic requirement,

- the fact that the process of conducting the research may be just as important (or more important) than the outcomes of the research, and

- the idea that first and foremost the whole research project should be a learning experience for you.

If you can keep these ideas in mind while you're thinking through your research you stand an excellent chance of having your research project turn out well.

 

5. Be realistic about the time that you're willing to commit to your research project. If it's a 10 year project that you're thinking about admit it at the beginning and then decide whether or not you have 10 years to give to it. If the project you'd like to do is going to demand more time than you're willing to commit then you have a problem.

 

6. If you're going to ask for a leave of absence from your job while you're working on your research this isn't a good time to do it. Chances are you can do the "primary thinking" stage without a leave of absence. Assuming that there are six major phases that you will have during your research project, probably the best time to get the most from a leave of absence is during - the writing stage. This is the time when you really need to be thinking well. To be able to work at your writing in large blocks of time without interruptions is something really important. A leave of absence from your job can allow this to happen. A leave of absence from your job prior to this stage may not be a very efficient use of the valuable time away from your work.

 

7. It can be most helpful at this early stage to try a very small preliminary research study to test out some of your ideas to help you gain further confidence in what you'd like to do. The study can be as simple as conducting half a dozen informal interviews with no attempt to document what is said. The key is that it will give you a chance to get closer to your research and to test out whether or not you really are interested in the topic. And, you can do it before you have committed yourself to doing something you may not like. Take your time and try it first.



WRITING THE THESIS OR DISSERTATION

After had your protocol approved, collected the data, conducted your analyses and now you're about to start writing your thesis or dissertation. If steps of the first tip had done well this part shouldn't be too bad. In fact it might even be enjoyable!

 

8. The major myth in writing a dissertation is that you start writing at Chapter One and then finish your writing. This is seldom the case. The most productive approach in writing the dissertation is to begin writing those parts of the dissertation that you are most comfortable with. Then move about in your writing by completing various sections as you think of them. At some point you will be able to spread out in front of you all of the sections that you have written. You will be able to sequence them in the best order and then see what is missing and should be added to the dissertation. This way seems to make sense and builds on those aspects of your study that are of most interest to you at any particular time. Go with what interests you, start your writing there, and then keep building!

 

9. If you prepared a comprehensive protocol you will now be rewarded! Pull out the protocol and begin by checking your proposed research methodology. Change the tense from future tense to past tense and then make any additions or changes so that the methodology section truly reflects what you did. You have now been able to change sections from the protocol to sections for the dissertation. Move on to the Statement of the Problem and the Literature Review in the same manner.

 

10. Sure you're using some form of word processing on a computer to write your dissertation. (if you aren't, you've missed a major part of your doctoral preparation!) If your study has specific names of people, institutions and places that must be changed to provide anonymity don't do it too soon. Go ahead and write your dissertation using the real names. Then at the end of the writing stage you can easily have the computer make all of the appropriate name substitutions. If you make these substitutions too early it can really confuse your writing.

 

11. As you get involved in the actual writing of your dissertation you will find that conservation of paper will begin to fade away as a concern. Just as soon as you print a draft of a chapter there will appear a variety of needed changes and before you know it another draft will be printed. And, it seems almost impossible to throw away any of the drafts! After awhile it will become extremely difficult to remember which draft of your chapter you may be looking at. Print each draft of your dissertation on a different color paper. With the different colors of paper it will be easy to see which is the latest draft and you can quickly see which draft a committee member might be reading.

 

12. The one area where you should caution about is using a word processor in the initial creation of elaborate graphs or tables. Too many students spend too many hours in trying to use their word processor to create an elaborate graph that could have been done by hand in 15 minutes. So, the simple rule is to use hand drawing for elaborate tables and graphs for the early draft of your dissertation. Make sure your data are presented accurately so your advisor can clearly understand your graph/table, but don't waste the time trying to make it look word processor perfect at this time. Once you and your advisor agree upon how the data should be graphically represented it is time to prepare "perfect" looking graphs and tables.

 

13. Dissertation-style writing is not designed to be entertaining. Dissertation writing should be clear and unambiguous. To do this well you should prepare a list of key words that are important to your research and then your writing should use this set of key words throughout. There is nothing so frustrating to a reader as a manuscript that keeps using alternate words to mean the same thing. If you've decided that a key phrase for your research is "educational workshop", then do not try substituting other phrases like "in-service program", "learning workshop", "educational institute", or "educational program." Always stay with the same phrase - "educational workshop." It will be very clear to the reader exactly what you are referring to.

 

14. Review two or three well organized and presented dissertations. Examine their use of headings, overall style, typeface and organization. Use them as a model for the preparation of your own dissertation. In this way you will have an idea at the beginning of your writing what your finished dissertation will look like. A most helpful perspective!

 

15. A simple rule - if you are presenting information in the form of a table or graph make sure you introduce the table or graph in your text. And then, following the insertion of the table/graph, make sure you discuss it. If there is nothing to discuss then you may want to question even inserting it.

 

16. Another simple rule - if you have a whole series of very similar tables try to use similar words in describing each. Don't try and be creative and entertaining with your writing. If each introduction and discussion of the similar tables uses very similar wording then the reader can easily spot the differences in each table.

 

17. We are all familiar with how helpful the Table of Contents is to the reader. What we sometimes don't realize is that it is also invaluable to the writer. Use the Table of Contents to help you improve your manuscript. Use it to see if you've left something out, if you are presenting your sections in the most logical order, or if you need to make your wording a bit more clear. you can easily copy/paste each of your headings from throughout your writing into the Table of Contents. Then sit back and see if the Table of Contents is clear and will make good sense to the reader. You will be amazed at how easy it will be to see areas that may need some more attention. Don't wait until the end to do your Table of Contents. Do it early enough so you can benefit from the information it will provide to you.

 

18. If you are including a Conclusions/Implications section in your dissertation make sure you really present conclusions and implications. Often the writer uses the conclusions/implications section to merely restate the research findings. Don't waste my time. I've already read the findings and now, at the Conclusion/Implication section, I want you to help me understand what it all means. This is a key section of the dissertation and is sometimes best done after you've had a few days to step away from your research and allow yourself to put your research into perspective. If you do this you will no doubt be able to draw a variety of insights that help link your research to other areas. I usually think of conclusions/implications as the "So what" statements. In other words, what are the key ideas that we can draw from your study to apply to my areas of concern.

 

19. Potentially the silliest part of the dissertation is the Suggestions for Further Research section. This section is usually written at the very end of your writing project and little energy is left to make it very meaningful. The biggest problem with this section is that the suggestions are often ones that could have been made prior to you conducting your research. Read and reread this section until you are sure that you have made suggestions that emanate from your experiences in conducting the research and the findings that you have evolved. Make sure that your suggestions for further research serve to link your project with other projects in the future and provide a further opportunity for the reader to better understand what you have done.

 

20. Now it's time to write the last chapter. But what chapter is the last one? the last chapter should be the first chapter. Certainly you wrote Chapter One at the beginning of this whole process. Now, at the end, it's time to "rewrite" Chapter One. After you've had a chance to write your dissertation all the way to the end, the last thing you should do is turn back to Chapter One. Reread Chapter One carefully with the insight you now have from having completed the End Chapter. Does Chapter One clearly help the reader move in the direction of the End Chapter? Are important concepts that will be necessary for understanding End Chapter presented in Chapter One?

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