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Capacity Building in the
Preparation of Research Reports
Dr. Vijayakumar K. P.
Former Head and Hon. Director
Centre for In...
What is research?
• Research is a scientific and systematic search
for pertinent information on a specific topic.
• It is ...
What is research?
• The objective analysis and controlled
observations may lead to the development of
generalizations, pri...
Why research?
• To obtain a higher degree.
• To get acceptance/respect from others.
• To face a challenge.
• To solve a pr...
Steps in research
Research is a step by step process involving a
series of activities.
The concrete steps are:
• Selection...
Steps in research…
• Pilot study
• Data collection
• Processing and analysis of data
• Testing hypotheses
• Interpretation...
Research design
• Research design is a total plan for carrying
out an investigation.
• A completed research design shows t...
Management of time
• Do not just relax for the first few
weeks/months, thinking that you have
years ahead to spend on your...
Management of time…
The sub-tasks include:
Background reading
Finalize topic and title
Literature search – what has alr...
When to start writing?
• You should start writing as soon as you can,
to be precise, from day one.
• There are a number of...
When to start writing?...
• First, writing is a skill that develops and
improves with practice.
• You will probably find t...
When to start writing?...
• Secondly, it is important to write things as you do
them.
• The Literature Review chapter can ...
When to start writing?...
• Thirdly, getting an early first draft of a few
chapters is a good thing from the
psychological...
Number of drafts
• This depends on how good you are at writing.
• But you should plan to produce a first draft
and a secon...
How to improve the writing?
• The most effective way to improve the
writing is to practice.
• You will see your own skills...
How to improve the writing?...
• There are three other approaches you can
use to improve your writing:
1. Read as much as ...
How to improve the writing?...
2. Start writing now, even if it is only your
random thoughts about what you'd like the
the...
How to improve the writing?...
3. Search through the literature, and keep
comprehensive notes.
• These notes will do two t...
Time to be spent on writing
Writing may take longer than you think.
Even after the research itself is all done, it is
wi...
How to proceed?...
Estimate the time to write your report and
then multiply it by three to get the correct
estimate.
Inf...
Organization of the Research Report
1. Title page
2. Declaration by the Candidate
3. Certificate by the Supervising Guide(...
Organization of the Report…
• Title page
One page with the title, date, degree the project
was submitted for and your full...
Organization of the Report…
Chapter 1: Background and context
A discussion of the background to the study and the
reasons ...
Organization of the Report…
Chapters 4–6: Data presentation and analysis
Chapters presenting, interpreting and analyzing
t...
Organization of the Report…
• Appendices
• Additional information you want to include.
• This could be some of the detaile...
Title of the Report
The Title should be neither too long nor too
short.
It should be focused and interesting.
It should...
Title page
Title of the Thesis
Thesis submitted to the
Kannur University
In partial fulfillment of the requirement for the...
Table of contents
• The introduction starts on page 1, the
earlier pages should have roman
numerals.
• It helps to have th...
Summary/Abstract
• An abstract must be self-contained. Usually
they do not contain references.
• Summary or Abstract shoul...
Summary/Abstract
• This part would be the most widely published
and most read because it would be published
in Dissertatio...
Introduction Chapter
What is the topic and why is it important?
State the problem(s) as simply as you can.
You are writi...
Introduction Chapter…
• For the first paragraph or two, tradition
permits prose that is less dry than the
scientific norm....
Introduction Chapter…
• Introduction chapter is normally written
towards the end of the thesis writing.
• Your introductio...
The Literature Review
• Where did the problem come from?
• What is already known about this problem?
• What other methods ...
Materials and Methods
• This varies enormously from thesis to
thesis, and may be absent in theoretical
theses.
• It should...
Working Chapters
Working Chapters should contain:
• A brief introduction
• Experimental procedure/ data and
analysis/ meth...
Results and discussion
The results and discussion are very
often combined in theses.
The division of Results and Discuss...
Illustrations
• Tables
• Figures (anything not a table or a plate)
-- graphs
-- pie diagrams
-- flow charts
-- organisatio...
Diagrams and Graphs
 A graph should be reserved for exciting findings or
interesting, but unexpected results.
 Trends, d...
Diagrams and Graphs…
• The ready availability of graphical software
should not entice you into presenting
everything indis...
Tables
A table invokes an expectation of
regularity.
So present dull, unremarkable data in a
table.
Make sure that your...
Summary and conclusions
• You might find it helpful to put your
conclusions in point form.
• Do not show too many conclusi...
Tips on Writing Conclusion
• Be reflective and honest.
• What were the lessons learned?
• What were the overall insights?
...
Future Scope of the Study
• It is often the case with scientific
investigations that more questions than
answers are produ...
References
• Organize the list of references
alphabetically by author surname.
• All references given must be referred to ...
Citation Pattern
Author-date system
Eg:
• The Infonet services would be made available
to 350 universities in India during...
Citation pattern…
Enumerated system
• The Infonet services would be made available
to 350 universities during 2006 - 07(1)...
Citation pattern…
• Alternatively, you can follow any of the
following style manuals.
1. Chicago Manual of Style, 16th ed....
Citation pattern…
4. American Anthropological Association (AAA)
5. American Sociological Association Style (ASA)
6. Counci...
Appendix
• Appendices usually contain material that is of
not much relevance in the main body of the
thesis, but which sho...
Format
• The layout is the packaging for your thesis.
• A pleasing font and adequate margins make
your thesis visually att...
Format
• The regulations governing size of paper, size of
margins, etc., vary with University.
• Theses should be double o...
Notes for Thesis Writing
• Arrange your chapters so that your first and
last chapters are sound and solid.
• Write the Int...
Style of Writing
• Clear - short clearly structured sentences
• Appropriate and specific vocabulary
• No repetition, but i...
Language Style
• In academic writing, one should avoid the
first person singular pronoun ‘I’.
• The first person plural pr...
Language Style
Voice
Use active constructions. For example, say ``the
operating system starts the device'' instead of
``th...
Language Style…
The text must be clear.
Good grammar and thoughtful writing
will make the thesis easier to read.
Scient...
Be objective
• Information supported by evidence
• Convince your reader with logic and
evidence, not emotive language
• Wh...
Checklist: good scientific writing
• Objective: evidence driven
• Accurate : style, referencing, data,
• Concise: not word...
Use of technology
• Re-read carefully where you have been
cutting and pasting.
• Print it out to read it, then annotate th...
Using spell checkers
• Word processing programs have a
dictionary installed in it.
• Check that you have the British versi...
Using grammar checkers
Grammar checkers look at every sentence for:
 verbs
 sentence length and complexity
 verb subjec...
Do’s and Don’ts in Research
• Do keep records as you go along and date them.
• Do systematic work.
• Don’t claim precision...
Concluding remarks
Please take care to:
• Attend conferences because it is important for
networking and making contacts.
•...
Concluding remarks…
• People should get to know you, not just your
advisor.
• Faculty at conferences might seem unapproach...
References
• Mauch, J. E. & Birch, J. W. (1998). Guide to
the successful thesis and dissertation.
New York: Marcel Dekker....
Thank You
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Capacity building in the preparation of research report

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Talk by Dr. K.P. Vijayakumar
Former Head
Dept. of Library and Information Science
University of Kerala

Published in: Education
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Capacity building in the preparation of research report

  1. 1. Capacity Building in the Preparation of Research Reports Dr. Vijayakumar K. P. Former Head and Hon. Director Centre for Information Literacy Studies Dept. of Library and Info. Science, University of Kerala kpvijayakumar2@gmail.com
  2. 2. What is research? • Research is a scientific and systematic search for pertinent information on a specific topic. • It is the process of arriving at dependable solutions to problems through the planned and systematic collection, analysis and interpretation of data. • It is the consistent effort to gain new knowledge, a journey from the known to the unknown.
  3. 3. What is research? • The objective analysis and controlled observations may lead to the development of generalizations, principles, or theories, resulting in prediction and possibly ultimate control of events. • It is essentially an intellectual and creative activity.
  4. 4. Why research? • To obtain a higher degree. • To get acceptance/respect from others. • To face a challenge. • To solve a problem. • To get intellectual enjoyment. • To serve humanity (by making contributions to social, economic, educational, cultural development).
  5. 5. Steps in research Research is a step by step process involving a series of activities. The concrete steps are: • Selection and formulation of research problem • Literature survey • Development of working hypothesis • Research design • Sampling strategy
  6. 6. Steps in research… • Pilot study • Data collection • Processing and analysis of data • Testing hypotheses • Interpretation and generalization, and • Preparation of the report.
  7. 7. Research design • Research design is a total plan for carrying out an investigation. • A completed research design shows the step- by-step sequence of actions in carrying out an investigation.
  8. 8. Management of time • Do not just relax for the first few weeks/months, thinking that you have years ahead to spend on your dissertation. • Time passes quickly. • At the outset, and preferably in collaboration with your supervisor, map out a timetable of sub-tasks and interim
  9. 9. Management of time… The sub-tasks include: Background reading Finalize topic and title Literature search – what has already been written Dissertation plan, informed by your literature search Develop dissertation plan Gathering evidence or data Use initial findings to begin to draft the dissertation
  10. 10. When to start writing? • You should start writing as soon as you can, to be precise, from day one. • There are a number of reasons for this. • The most obvious one is that the writing will take a long time and the sooner you get started, the better. • However, there are a number of other aspects of writing that are important.
  11. 11. When to start writing?... • First, writing is a skill that develops and improves with practice. • You will probably find that your first sections of writing take a long time and need a lot of revision and re-writing. • However, over time you will become better and the quality of your writing will improve.
  12. 12. When to start writing?... • Secondly, it is important to write things as you do them. • The Literature Review chapter can be written as soon as you have done some wide reading. • The Methodology chapter can be drafted as soon as you have decided what you are going to do.
  13. 13. When to start writing?... • Thirdly, getting an early first draft of a few chapters is a good thing from the psychological point. • You will feel you are making good progress and will have something to show for your efforts. • Fourthly, and most importantly, is recognizing that thinking and writing are very strongly connected.
  14. 14. Number of drafts • This depends on how good you are at writing. • But you should plan to produce a first draft and a second draft of each chapter. • This will enable you to get each chapter to a good standard. • Then draft it further so that it fits as part of the whole work.
  15. 15. How to improve the writing? • The most effective way to improve the writing is to practice. • You will see your own skills develop as you progress through the work. • Your supervisor will give you some feedback on writing style and skill each time you submit a draft of a section.
  16. 16. How to improve the writing?... • There are three other approaches you can use to improve your writing: 1. Read as much as you can. • Reading academic writing in journals or books will make you increasingly familiar with good (and poor) writing style.
  17. 17. How to improve the writing?... 2. Start writing now, even if it is only your random thoughts about what you'd like the thesis to prove. • By writing every day, you accomplish at least two things: • First, you reduce anxiety about WRITING. • Second, much of what you write may, either directly or indirectly, the source of material for your thesis.
  18. 18. How to improve the writing?... 3. Search through the literature, and keep comprehensive notes. • These notes will do two things: -- first, they may be a valuable source of information later on in the process; -- second, they keep you writing. • In short, whatever task that you are performing can be written about.
  19. 19. Time to be spent on writing Writing may take longer than you think. Even after the research itself is all done, it is wise to allow at least one complete term for writing the thesis. It's not the physical act of typing that takes so long, it's the fact that writing the report requires the complete organization of your arguments and results. Therefore, try to devote at least 15 minutes to two hours in a day for writing.
  20. 20. How to proceed?... Estimate the time to write your report and then multiply it by three to get the correct estimate. Inflating your first estimate by a factor of three is more realistic.
  21. 21. Organization of the Research Report 1. Title page 2. Declaration by the Candidate 3. Certificate by the Supervising Guide(s) 4. Acknowledgements 5. Summary/Abstract/Preface 6. Table of Contents 7. List of Figures/Tables/Photographs 8. Main Text – Chapters of the Thesis 9. Summary and Conclusions 10. Future Scope of the Study 11. Bibliography/References 12. Appendices, if any 13. List of Publications by the candidate
  22. 22. Organization of the Report… • Title page One page with the title, date, degree the project was submitted for and your full name. • Abstract A brief summary of the project, no more than a single page in length, summarizing the aims, background, methods and findings. This should be the last part of the work that you write! • Contents Tables listing the chapters, the figures and the diagrams.
  23. 23. Organization of the Report… Chapter 1: Background and context A discussion of the background to the study and the reasons for its importance and interest as a research project. Chapter 2: Literature review A summary of the findings of the literature review. Chapter 3: Research methodology A description and justification of the methodology you have used.
  24. 24. Organization of the Report… Chapters 4–6: Data presentation and analysis Chapters presenting, interpreting and analyzing the results. Chapter 7: Discussion and conclusions The ‘big picture’ chapter, presenting the overall findings, the ‘answer’ to the research question and a critique of the research. Bibliography A list of the references and wider reading that you have done.
  25. 25. Organization of the Report… • Appendices • Additional information you want to include. • This could be some of the detailed data, or samples of some of the ‘raw’ results such as computer printouts or interview notes or a sample questionnaire. • The exact number of chapters will be for you to choose. • You may need one or several data presentation and analysis chapters, particularly in a doctoral thesis. • The chapters do not all need to be the same length.
  26. 26. Title of the Report The Title should be neither too long nor too short. It should be focused and interesting. It should include the keywords you might use to describe your work in a scientific paper or thesis-abstracting system. Try to use some verbs rather than a long list of nouns.
  27. 27. Title page Title of the Thesis Thesis submitted to the Kannur University In partial fulfillment of the requirement for the award of the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in English Language and Literature by NAME OF THE CANDIDATE Name of the Department/Institution Month & Year of submission
  28. 28. Table of contents • The introduction starts on page 1, the earlier pages should have roman numerals. • It helps to have the subheadings of each chapter, as well as the chapter titles. • Remember that the thesis may be used as a reference in the library, so it helps to be able to find things easily.
  29. 29. Summary/Abstract • An abstract must be self-contained. Usually they do not contain references. • Summary or Abstract should be of approximately 300 words. (It should not exceed 700 words.) • The Abstract or summary should summarize the appropriate headings, aims, scope and conclusion of the thesis.
  30. 30. Summary/Abstract • This part would be the most widely published and most read because it would be published in Dissertation Abstracts International (DAI). • It is best written towards the end, but not at the very last minute because you will probably need several drafts. • It should be a distillation of the thesis: a concise description of the problem(s) addressed, your method of solving it/them, your results and conclusions.
  31. 31. Introduction Chapter What is the topic and why is it important? State the problem(s) as simply as you can. You are writing for researchers in the general area, but not all of them need be specialists in your particular topic. The introduction should be interesting. If you bore the reader here, then you are unlikely to revive his/her interest in the materials and methods section.
  32. 32. Introduction Chapter… • For the first paragraph or two, tradition permits prose that is less dry than the scientific norm. • Go to the library and read several thesis introductions. Did any make you want to read on? Which ones were boring? • It is a good idea to ask someone who is not a specialist to read it and to comment.
  33. 33. Introduction Chapter… • Introduction chapter is normally written towards the end of the thesis writing. • Your introduction should tell where the thesis is going, and this may become clearer only during the writing.
  34. 34. The Literature Review • Where did the problem come from? • What is already known about this problem? • What other methods have been tried to solve it? • How many papers? How relevant do they have to be before you include them? • On the order of a 150-200 is reasonable, but it will depend on the field. • Latest References and Classical papers are to be included.
  35. 35. Materials and Methods • This varies enormously from thesis to thesis, and may be absent in theoretical theses. • It should be possible for a competent researcher to reproduce exactly what you have done by following your description. . • Sometime after you have left, another researcher will want to do a similar experiment either with your gear, or on a new set-up in a foreign country.
  36. 36. Working Chapters Working Chapters should contain: • A brief introduction • Experimental procedure/ data and analysis/ methods and materials/ Theory • Results • Discussion • Outcome/Summary/Conclusion
  37. 37. Results and discussion The results and discussion are very often combined in theses. The division of Results and Discussion material into chapters is usually best done according to subject matter. Make sure that you have described the conditions which obtained for each set of results.
  38. 38. Illustrations • Tables • Figures (anything not a table or a plate) -- graphs -- pie diagrams -- flow charts -- organisational charts -- pictograms • Plates
  39. 39. Diagrams and Graphs  A graph should be reserved for exciting findings or interesting, but unexpected results.  Trends, departures from trends, dramatic behaviours of variables, etc., are good candidates for graphs.  Caption all diagrams, graphs and tables so that they may be read by themselves, independently of the main text.  The illustrations, diagrams, graphs etc. have to be linked with the text.
  40. 40. Diagrams and Graphs… • The ready availability of graphical software should not entice you into presenting everything indiscriminately in pictorial form. • Emphasis is rightly gained with sparing and selective use; and this applies to the use of diagrams, graphs, italics and bold typeface.
  41. 41. Tables A table invokes an expectation of regularity. So present dull, unremarkable data in a table. Make sure that your variables are in different columns.  Your rows for any given column should represent different observations of a given variable.
  42. 42. Summary and conclusions • You might find it helpful to put your conclusions in point form. • Do not show too many conclusions of your thesis, this will dilute your thesis results. • Show only the most important results (say about 5-8) as the outcome of your thesis, and justify their significance.
  43. 43. Tips on Writing Conclusion • Be reflective and honest. • What were the lessons learned? • What were the overall insights? • Did you solve the problem completely? • How much progress have we made in your field because of your work? • Don’t bore the reader with a cut-and-paste of your Introduction chapter.
  44. 44. Future Scope of the Study • It is often the case with scientific investigations that more questions than answers are produced. • Does your work suggest any interesting further avenues? • Are there ways in which your work could be improved by future workers? • What are the practical implications of your work?
  45. 45. References • Organize the list of references alphabetically by author surname. • All references given must be referred to in the main body of the thesis. • To quote an unread paper is misleading and dangerous. • Note the difference from a Bibliography, which may include works that are not directly referenced in the thesis.
  46. 46. Citation Pattern Author-date system Eg: • The Infonet services would be made available to 350 universities in India during 2006- 07(Murthy, 2005). At the end of the article, the references would be given in the alphabetical order of the author.
  47. 47. Citation pattern… Enumerated system • The Infonet services would be made available to 350 universities during 2006 - 07(1). Then the references are given at the end of the paper in the numerical order of the citation.
  48. 48. Citation pattern… • Alternatively, you can follow any of the following style manuals. 1. Chicago Manual of Style, 16th ed. Chicago: University of Chicago, 2010. (Also online edition) 2. Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 6th ed. Washington: American Psycho-logical Association, 2009. 3. MLA Handbook for Writers of Research papers, 7th ed. Modern Languages Association, 2009.
  49. 49. Citation pattern… 4. American Anthropological Association (AAA) 5. American Sociological Association Style (ASA) 6. Council of Science Editors Style (CSE), 7th ed., 2006 7. Columbia Style Guide 8. Apple Publications Style Guide 9. American Institute of Physics Style Manual (AIP) 10. Turabian Style etc.
  50. 50. Appendix • Appendices usually contain material that is of not much relevance in the main body of the thesis, but which should be available for perusal by the examiners to convince them sufficiently. • Examples include experimental details, program listings, immense tables of data, lengthy mathematical proofs or derivations, etc. • Do not parrot textbook material in an Appendix just to give your thesis length or to impress your examiners.
  51. 51. Format • The layout is the packaging for your thesis. • A pleasing font and adequate margins make your thesis visually attractive. • The convention is to choose a font with serifs (e.g., Times Roman) for the main text and a sans serif font (e.g., Helvetica) for text inside diagrams. • All figure captions should be in the same font as the main text, preferably at one size smaller.
  52. 52. Format • The regulations governing size of paper, size of margins, etc., vary with University. • Theses should be double or one and a half space typed on A4 paper with a left hand margin of 4 cm. • There should be a 2.5 cm margin on all other edges. • An extra left margin should be allowed for binding the thesis. • Do the typing only on one side of the paper.
  53. 53. Notes for Thesis Writing • Arrange your chapters so that your first and last chapters are sound and solid. • Write the Introduction after writing the Conclusion. • The examiner will read the Introduction first, and then the conclusions, to see if the promises made in the former are indeed fulfilled in the latter. • Ensure that your Introduction and Conclusions match 100%.
  54. 54. Style of Writing • Clear - short clearly structured sentences • Appropriate and specific vocabulary • No repetition, but ideas linked • Is formal - no contractions, slang, colloquialisms etc. • Impersonal -- usually third person.
  55. 55. Language Style • In academic writing, one should avoid the first person singular pronoun ‘I’. • The first person plural pronoun, ‘we’ is used when stating facts, assumptions or previously derived results; in (mathematical) proofs; and especially in textbooks. • The use of ‘we’ conveys the impression of a dialogue between writer and reader.
  56. 56. Language Style Voice Use active constructions. For example, say ``the operating system starts the device'' instead of ``the device is started by the operating system.'' Tense Write in the present tense. For example, say “The system writes a page to the disk and then uses the frame...'' instead of ``The system will use the frame after it wrote the page to disk...'' Grammar and Logic Short, simple phrases and words are often better than long ones.
  57. 57. Language Style… The text must be clear. Good grammar and thoughtful writing will make the thesis easier to read. Scientific writing has to be a little formal. Slang and informal writing will be harder for a non-native speaker to understand.
  58. 58. Be objective • Information supported by evidence • Convince your reader with logic and evidence, not emotive language • Where appropriate, show more than one perspective • Avoid personalised evaluation of authors: -- “Jones argues” not “Jones thinks/feels” CUSAT
  59. 59. Checklist: good scientific writing • Objective: evidence driven • Accurate : style, referencing, data, • Concise: not wordy, balanced, within word limit • Clear: point evident • Consistent: expression, spelling, grammar • Convincing: argument and language • Reader friendly 1999cr/lsu/elp
  60. 60. Use of technology • Re-read carefully where you have been cutting and pasting. • Print it out to read it, then annotate the hard copy. • Use spelling checkers carefully. • Be aware of what grammar checkers prescribe. CUSAT
  61. 61. Using spell checkers • Word processing programs have a dictionary installed in it. • Check that you have the British version or American, eg. -ise vs -ize • Spell checkers check every word that you type, but beware they don’t distinguish homophones or “documents and, document sand” ! Use the auto-correct facility! CUSAT
  62. 62. Using grammar checkers Grammar checkers look at every sentence for:  verbs  sentence length and complexity  verb subject agreement  passive vs active verbs  use of idiomatic phrases, eg, kick the bucket, part and parcel  sentence length CUSAT
  63. 63. Do’s and Don’ts in Research • Do keep records as you go along and date them. • Do systematic work. • Don’t claim precision where it is not justified. • Don’t present a conjecture as a fact. • Don’t plagiarize. • Don’t falsify records or cook up data.
  64. 64. Concluding remarks Please take care to: • Attend conferences because it is important for networking and making contacts. • Introduce yourself to professors and other students. • Use business cards, if you have them. • Volunteer for service in some conferences. • Build a community around yourself outside your university.
  65. 65. Concluding remarks… • People should get to know you, not just your advisor. • Faculty at conferences might seem unapproachable. • You might not (yet) have a track record in research. • Don’t stand around, waiting for people to talk to you. • Aggressiveness is a great quality – don’t be shy.
  66. 66. References • Mauch, J. E. & Birch, J. W. (1998). Guide to the successful thesis and dissertation. New York: Marcel Dekker. • Murray, R. (2002). How to write a thesis. Berkshire, UK: Open University Press. • How to write a Ph. D. thesis. http://www.phys.unsw.edu.au/~jw/thesis.html
  67. 67. Thank You

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