The importance of journals with an Impact Factor

It is important to access the scientific credibility of a research paper, and the journal impact factor is an important criteria. But we may find diverse, and contrast opinions on this from senior academicians, and researchers who insist that it is nothing other than a measure of the prestige of the journal. It surely is a very controversial topic of discussion for the entire research community. We definitely know that the impact factor does not have any role in deciding the importance and value of a research paper, but undoubtedly it has an influence on the researcher’s future career prospects.

The decision regarding the impact factor of the journals is done by Thompson Reuters. The preliminary reason for assigning the impact factors was for the help to the librarians. It was intended that it would help the librarians to make decisions regarding the purchase of the journals. Gradually people started to look at it is a means to decide the scientific worth of a document. But this as a tool of assessment has to have many deficiencies and hence see so many debates building up on this issue, amongst the fraternity. The key reasons over which they debate are:

  1. It is an absolute degradation and misuse of a metric measure such as the impact factor, if it is used for the purpose of promotions and funding objectives
  2. The research should be given the weightage and importance to get evaluated on the basis of its quality standards. It should be distinct from the impact factor of the journal
  3. There should further more parameters discovered to assess the impact and significance of the paper as these days, the online journals offer a lot of flexibility to the researchers regarding the usage of  words, references , graphs etc.

Though all this criticism is valid, there is lot of belief in the impact factor concept around the world and is still used as a means to analyse the prestige of a research scientist. This is the reason that, Open Access Publishing is losing its charm day by day, and the scientific community is struggling with the benchmarks against which the value of the scholars and their research can be measured. The solution to this needs to be explored and dug out from research itself and there is some introspection from the scientific community required in this end, urgently.

The two tricks to help you defend your PhD thesis better

What is required to give a successful Ph.D. defense? You need to prepare hard, keep your stress levels in control and ensure that you chances of sailing through it are the maximum.

A very vital trait of a Ph.D. defense is that it’s uniquely unpredictable. You can only control that bit part of it which you can prepare. That is your talk and your presentation. It is impossible to be proactive about all the endless possibility of questions that would be shot at you.  A thesis usually is close to two hundred pages and the committee has the job and the freedom to find an error on any page or grill you with the interpretation or meaning of any word on any of the page. When your work is an outcome of your hard work and carries the seal of quality you are confident to sail through it anyways. Still, there are two tricks that can help you to deal with your Ph.D. defense with a more confident approach:

  1. Make sure that you have enough practice talks: Do not underestimate how much time it takes for practice and control over the flawless delivery of your content. Most of the researchers let their guard down when they have submitted their thesis as they think that the most difficult part is over. That is a mistake one must not do, as preparing for your defense also requires effort and dedication that is no less than what is needed for writing a thesis. Your preparation must make you sound polished when you deliver. Even if you don’t have each and every word memorized, enough time spent on practice will put you in the flow of talking. To further improvise on the quality of your defense, you may even record your rehearsal to see what your strength areas are and which are the areas that you need to focus upon.
  2. Give an ear to other defense talks: The more you listen to other Ph.D. defense talks the better prepared you are mentally. It is all the more ideal if the research is on a topic that is similar to your theme. However, if that is not possible, try to see diverse defense presentations of other scholars on youtube or get yourself DVDs. Have a broader vision and a critical perspective when you see these so you can identify what are the good and bad aspects of those talks. The level of energy and confidence that has been exhibited by the presenter should also be noticed by you, to absorb and improvise your talk, wherever you feel the need be.

Best of luck to you!!

What exactly does the Methodology Chapter comprise?

Firstly, do we mean the same thing by Methods and Methodology? A lot of researchers may call them as synonyms and use them interchangeably. However there is some distinction that is there, between both the terms and that is very important for researchers to know.

Methodology, to understand better is primarily the theory of the document. It is the theory of the research methods that would be used in research. This theory brings forth various crucial and significant decisions that the researcher has taken regarding the research. These decisions could pertain to what is the area of study, who are the subject of the study, where is the study to be done, what to include or exclude in the study, and to not forget the relational and ethical concerns that are associated with the study.

When we talk of research in the field of social sciences and arts, they have to incorporate somewhere in the beginning of the research itself, the way in which the research is planned and will be carried out. This design for their research elucidates on what the research is all about, why it is the way it is and how it is planned to be taken forward?

When talking about methodology, there isn’t a need to go in complete detail about the discussion chapter, just to focus on the fact that the research has been undertake with a critical perspective is enough, where by some basic principles about the research are highlighted together.

When you write your research methodology, you got to primarily focus upon fitting the discussion in the discipline of the topic. It is basically, that you got to be writing about what is of prime importance to the reader to understand the research thoroughly and be able to comprehend the research in the best possible way that is to be read in the remaining part of the document.

This, I hope makes it very clear what methodology is all about. So, now what is methods?

Methods, are just one part of the methodology chapter. Though the most important and critical part which gives the different tools that have been used in research. Both the methodology and the methods collectively make the research design of the study and it is actually the unique way in which, among all the possible subjectivity, the researcher has assembled and sequenced the tools and their application in synchronisation with the principles that have been elaborated through the methodological choices.

Have an enriched academic writing style for definite success: continued

Being able to express the given idea in the word limit prescribed is the trait of a good academic writer. You must know how to not elaborate unnecessarily and have a crisp and succinct academic writing style. Here are some key ideas for that:

  1. Being concise is first thing: You must be concise with your writing. Wherever you can finish the message in 2 or 3 words , do not extend it to over  6 words without any  reason
  2. Do not indulge in conjunctions: Many a time writers use conjunctions in between sentences very liberally, they seem important also, especially when you have to establish a relationship between two sentences. However, unnecessary and incorrect use of conjunctions should be carefully avoided.
  3. Get rid of dismals: Many a times we use two words in a sentence having the same meaning. There is no need to do that. The example of this can be, such as and etc.; current and trend; different and kinds of etc.  You must identify such redundant words and ensure that you have not used them in a sentence unnecessarily.
  4. Oust what is inessential: The eye of an editor is expert in identifying the use of extraneous words.  The way to find it out is to know if a specific word has a meaningful contribution to the sentence or no. A lot of writers use a lot of inessential words out of sheer habit. Words such as ‘very’ and ‘really’ have no contribution whatsoever to make in any kind of constructive academic argument. Similarly, in academic writing you must be careful with the use of adverbs also. Sometimes instead of an adverb a more appropriate verb could be used as a replacement.
  5. Discard the jargons: writers who enjoy using jargons liberally aren’t doing anything but trying to inflate weak ideas, obscure poor reasoning and actually reduce the clarity of the idea. So you must try to refrain from using jargons in academic writing to the best of your ability.

 

If you take care of these few selective tips, you would surely be able to develop a better and more succinct writing style. Good writing is a reflection of the planning that has gone into it and the kind of attention that has been paid to its structure. If you follow these details, you would be able to express more meaningful ideas and concepts in fewer words and more clearly.  So keep these ideas in mind and take your writing to another level altogether.

The psychological forces causing Anxiety for PhD scholars

Stress and Anxiety caused by PhD has deeper and more underlying causes that the scholars must be aware of and not ignore. If simple efforts to organise and prioritize thing does not simplify your life and makes you feel still out of control then you need to go more in deep and identify and find out the fears you have.

Most of the PhD scholars have the fear of failure. Know that fear is one of the greatest cause of anxiety and stress and can be profoundly limiting. Some of the fears are not direct and explicitly visible but they have a deeper placing in your mind. Some of the fears and unknown and unfounded. You must be aware of your hidden and unfounded feelings

If you are one of those persons who finds it very difficult to detach from things and situations then you must learn and practice to let go in life. From small to big things, whatever may happen, you must let go. Failing in PhD is surely tough but remember it isn’t the worst thing that could happen to you. There are things all the more bad that could happen. Keeping that in mind, learn to let go and once you have learnt it, you must practice it. This can only happen when you completely trust your ability to cope up with whatever happens. If you  are feeling saturated with the pressure of your PhD and want to quit it all together, figure out if you could give it one more shot at least with meticulous understanding and planning of things that went wrong previously. Most of the time, when you look into things meticulously, they do start to work out.

 Most importantly, anxiety frustration and stress are inevitable in your PhD but do not take them as a normal part of your degree. You must learn to address your fears and acknowledge the stress so that once you accept the problem then only are you able to cope up with it. Accepting is the first thing to do so that you can achieve what you are truly and most importantly capable of doing and then take the appropriate action that must be taken.

You aren’t the only one who is facing this. Find respite in the fact that all the scholars go through high and uncontrollable bouts of fear and anxiety some or the other times. Only the ones who know how to conquer it, sail through. Become one of those!

Some general tips on effective introductions

The effectiveness of academic writing depends primarily on good introductions and hence they demand a lot of your attention most of the time. The key components of a good introduction are identification of topic, essential context and the key focus areas of the study. In addition it should be good enough to engage the interest of your readers. Because no two essays are identical, no single formula would be able to generate the introduction we are seeking. But adhering to certain guidelines can surely help to give a suitable beginning to your writing:

General advice about introductions:

  • A lot of students get entangled in the web of creating an effective introduction and hence end up spending most of their time creating that “perfect intro”. Don’t do that and rather channelize your time and efforts better into planning and writing.
  • If you are one of those who prefers to write an introduction as the first thing, know that you may have to correct, compress or rectify it at a later stage when you have finished your document
  • It is better and easier to leave the introduction  for the last stage of the document as then you would  be able to write in primarily in the light of what you have written throughout the document
  • The size of the introduction has a relationship with the length and complexity of your document for instance a document more than 15 pages would require over two page long introduction while a 5 page document would have a half page intro. You must know and justify the length of you document.
  • Do not beat around the bush in an introduction and try to raise your topic in the very first sentence itself. Stay away from generalisations
  • The end of the introduction should be your thesis statement, even though it isn’t a thumb rule, it surely paves a good road map for you.

An interesting and effective introduction should surely include some startling statistics in context to your topic so that the seriousness of your topic is highlighted right in the beginning itself. Including some background information with a brief narrative that should exemplify the reason because of which you chose the topic. It is also a good idea to quote an expert after giving a brief introduction of him or her and mention the common misinterpretation against which your thesis will argue so that the readers become acquainted with it right in the beginning itself.

The Emotional turmoil of a PhD scholar

Research is not easy and not uncommon to see scholars burning out on it.  Statistics have revealed that only a small percentage of scholars who begin PhD work are able to complete it and most of the drop outs, astonishingly are voluntary. The reasons for dropping out can be various, ranging from better prospects elsewhere, more money in another field, a good job offer, marriage or some more but a lot of scholars also do leave their PhD out of sheer frustration with the challenges associated with doing a research.  Wouldn’t it be better is someone warned you in advance about how emotionally draining can a PhD journey be so that you can arm and equip yourself with the demands of the journey and also know that all the ups and downs are the necessary and generalised part of the journey and you aren’t the only one facing it’s brunt.

  At the foremost, you must know that risk is a part of research and a research that doesn’t have in it an element of risk isn’t really a research but a research failing isn’t really a personal failure. It is a failure of the research and rather it is your accomplishment to have taken up a project that has such great amount of risk associated with it.

If you feel little in front of people who often show success in research and bring out publications one after the other, know  that n they have had their own set of  struggle and failures and we get to only see the best in the upfront. It is quite likely that their successful projects have risen up after repeated failures.

Throughout your career your accumulated failures are a proof of your hard word and repeated attempts. Many a successful scholars would tell you that from a piled up stack of repeated failures would you find the cues for success, maybe few years down the line. So don’t get disheartened by initial setbacks and failures, rather they are a stepping stone to success. Research often takes more than it ought to so if your task takes longer, don’t worry, that is nothing but a thumb rule of research.

It is crucial for research as well as for you to set for you set short term goals for yourself and make research an everyday part of your life so that small little achievements can lead to greater accomplishments. Get into a pact with a friend so that they can motivate you and you could keep a tab on each other’s accomplishments.

When and if you get stuck somewhere, don’t give up. It is all part of the job.

Doctoral Students deserve a holiday too!!

When you are on the journey of being a doctoral scholar, your perspective towards holiday’s changes all together and you start looking at them little differently as compare to your perspective when you were undergraduate. As a doctoral students, here are few things you must know about holidays.

Holidays for you should be purely disassociated from stress of all types and give you the comfort of relaxation which is otherwise completely off from your grilling and challenging schedule

 When you decide to visit relatives in your tenure as a doctoral scholar, you might find their attitude and approach towards   you different and more poking than before. You may find them interfering in your work, whether passively or aggressively but surely intruding. Their objective primarily would be to know about your research and the new developments in your life. There are few tips and ideas that can help you to alleviate the feeling of frustration you may develop during such breaks, try to answer vaguely or in a way that you divert the attention more towards their work than yours.

 The perfect holiday for a doctoral student would be at a place that can be completely relaxing and unwinding and away from issues and concerns, whether personal or professional that can disturb you or add on to your existing pressure. You may not get many such opportunities easily in your PhD time but it is a suggestion worth focussing on, that you must create opportunities for yourself and keep taking a break on high priority. This is all the more important when you are going through that “more stressing” phase of your course. When you have slogged yourself with submission and deadlines. Rejuvenating yourself with a short break would help you to gear up and start the new phase with more focus.

Some scholars are unfortunate to have supervisors that  do not acknowledge their  students to take even well-deserved  breaks, they may try to make them feel guilty every time they would bring up the issue of moving away for a bit. Well I guess, you need to learn to find your way out here and don’t surrender. You must try and convince and cajole your supervisor about your needs and importance of moving out for a while, now whether you decide to face relatives and family or a lonely getaway for yourself is a choice you got to make!!

What Is a Good Structure of a Research Paper?

A research paper is more and beyond facts and thoughts and their presentation. The job of the researcher is to communicate his research effectively so the readers are able to grasp what is intended from the research.There are various concepts that go behind the structuring of a manuscript. A good structure is the one that has:

  • The right philosophy behind it: It is important to understand the right philosophy behind the paper when writing it. Know that the readers don’t simply read but they also draw interpretations from what they read. With their own understanding and level of expectation, different readers will draw out different conlusions from the way your paper is structured.

  • The key components are in place: If we have to define the structure of a research paper, an hourglass would be an appropiate word as the paper first begins with a broader picture of the topic and then narrows down to more specific studies. The conclusion part os again has broad considerations.

  • The diversity in the readers is kept in mind: A seasoned writer always keeps the diversity of his readers in his mind. The key is to strucuture the paper in such a way that the varied expectayions of readers from different background and expectations can be met to the best possible capacity. An amateur reader with basic knowledge and a hard core researcher of editor, both should be able to make sense from the document. That is they key. To do this, writers must stay away from jargons as not everyone is aware of them and only the specialists can draw sense out ofthem but when catering to a wider audience, their level of understanding has to be taken into consideration primarily. You should write with the assumption that readers do not now much about your topic of research.

An effective and expert author writes from the perspective of a reader and not a specialist reader but a general reader. This helps t structure out the manuscript in such a way that the wider interests are kept in mind and the flow of your ideas is in such a way that readers can figure out easily what to expect from which part of the manuscript.

Key concepts should be defined in simple and understandable language in the beginning of the paper itself so tht when the terminology is repeated in the remaining pary of the paper, the reader does not feel lost.

Are You One of Those Stressed Scholars?

There is a lot to be done and you can’t possibly imagine how to accomplish everything that is needed to be achieved and you become stressed and overwhelmed with the pressure. To begin with make a list. A detailed list of everything that needs to   be done , whether it is related to your PhD or no, it could be your assignments, reading, writing thesis, attending seminars,  doing grocery , laundry or maybe even a party. Listing out things is the first and most important step towards distressing. Only when you have the list of tasks to be accomplished, can you move towards scheduling them. Preferably make a weekly schedule for yourself. It will help you to be more organised and keep a tab on everything that needs to be done, how much is done and other things. There is indeed time to accommodate everything that needs to be accomplished. Keep achieving your goals and keep striking them off from the list.  It is feeling of accomplishment to see what all you have achieved and pat yourself on your back to know how much multi-tasking you are capable of and do everything with complete satisfaction and involvement.

Staying dissatisfied and unhappy becomes a vicious circle. Mostly scholars stay unhappy because of falling grades and then it further drains down their energies and becomes a hindrance in their academic effectiveness. This is not an unusual occurrence. One should not let emotional and social issues get into the way of your life. Unhappiness and stress is not something to live with and there are mature ways to deal with it, from getting a self book to even consulting a counsellor, one should opt for suitable remedies and solutions. Your emotional health and academic success have to go hand in hand so it is good to fight back and regain control of life. Keep a handle on both.

Dealing with anxiety is another major concern and it also does become a culprit in the way of effective performance of students. Feeling of inadequacy or belittling yourself often comes with comparison with peers. You should gain temporary control over your life by practicing relaxation techniques in anxious times. You should try becoming your best friend so that you can praise and acknowledge your own accomplishments.

One key thing to remember for reducing stress and anxiety that is easily manageable is not to procrastinate, take a lot of rest and do a lot of physical exercise.