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.

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 academic writing for phd thesis. 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 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.

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.

Proofreading Tips: If You Decide to Do Your Own

It may not be necessary that a good writer may also be a good editor or proof reader. At the same time the task of proofreading isn’t any less important than the task of writing. After all the your valuable research becomes presentable only after the content has been furnished and polished. Here are some tips for you to refine your proofreading :

• Usage of Pronouns:  not all pronouns can be used liberally in a thesis as some pronouns such as “this”, “that” and “it” may bring in a lot of ambiguity and the interpretation of the same may differ from person to person.
• Usage of Hard and Strong Words: assertive words should not be used in the thesis generally, unless you have evidence to prove something or it is a fact. Words such as “only” and “never” may be conflicting words for opinions where more generalised terms should be used.
• The Power of Punctuations: punctuations, particularly commas are very important and there use should be judicious in academic writing. They should be used to emphasize a conceptual pause rather than a verbal pause. One must though try to make more simple sentences and use more full stops instead of commas. Polish your punctuation rules before you get into the whirlpool of proofreading a document as big and complicated as a thesis.
• Symbols and text: Try to avoid mixing text and equations or math symbols to avoid complications or confusion in comprehending them. Connectors such as “and” , “or” should not be used in equation to bring in more visual clarity. Symbols should abstain from unnecessary text.
• Defining of terminology: Whenever there is scientific terminology used in research or there are specific symbols. Whether they are used commonly or no, they should by rule be defined once before getting used in the document. The symbols and terminology has to be not necessarily introduced formally, it can be done in an informal manner as well by using a different font, if required. Never take the liberty here to draw your own standardization, follow the rules.
• References: Ensure to check the relevance of all existing work that you use in references and verify that the source is original and not pedagogical. A thorough checklist is mandatory here, even if it sounds difficult.

Don’t just sit relaxed after a single attempt of proofreading but do multiple attempts to find spelling errors and typos that may get overlooked in the first attempt. Remember, proofreading doesn’t finish in one round!!

Has Your PhD Become Your Addiction?

The process of learning is full of distractions, always. So can we say that the process lacks efficiency? This is truer when we talk of PhD students because the PhD journey is full of distractions.

There came a stage in my PhD when I felt the work was not moving forward. Assuming that I had a lot of distractions in my life like social networking, friends to name a few. I completely shunned myself from all these. But there were new distractions. Even something insignificant as a refrigerator became my source of distraction. Food became a distraction and so many other things which were never on my list of priorities were all that I wanted to do for wiling away time.

I am not the only one and a lot of PhD students go through similar kind of distractions. Being aware of what kind of zone we are kind of getting into, still compulsively we find ways to vile away time. One of the most guilt free, gratifying and easiest way to waste time and still believe you have done something concrete for a PhD student is to do article hunting. It is one of the most safe work avoidance strategies and ironically the most satisfying. I have been involved in this like all other PhD students I have read about and spoken to and I call this as information addiction, where hunting information is a task you want to keep doing all day. Technically, the reason and analysis behind this is that searching information causes a big rush of a hormone called “ dopamine” into the brain which is also called “reward hormone”. It is a stimulus that makes one feel elated over achieving something. Whether the reward brings significant, ir sometimes even diminishing returns, the brain gets tuned to receiving the reward stimuli from time to time. Almost every PhD student is personally addicted to the craving for more and more information and the sense of achievement that follows it and that in another words is PhD addiction with diminishing returns. Why do you think it has diminishing returns? Perhaps because often we are only hooked to collecting information, more after more and never really actually get into reading it to understand its relevance. Does it not mean that you are actually addicted your PhD or one of its element?

Some of my virtual friends can actually throw some more light on this and tell me ways in which we can “control” the desire for constant information and the elated feeling following it. Your advices and inputs are welcome.

Aspects of Content That Require Due Importance

Whether you are involved in writing a dissertation or a journal paper, it is important to attend to a few critical aspects of your documented content. When you pursue research, you are expected to submit a flawless paper that is well readable and presentable. Thus, here are some tips on the aspects on which you may work in order to improve your content’s appeal for target readers.

Logic

This is one of the most significant factors in your content. If your text does not show logic, then it will also lack meaningfulness to the reader. Thus, make sure to read your content after you have written the first draft. Check if your sentences and paragraphs connect well and form a story. If your content is not interlinked, work on it to make it logical and well woven. Your content should flow so smoothly that it sounds structured when it is read.

Flawless language

While your work may be structured, it may contain unintentional errors of grammar, spelling or punctuation. There may be improper word usage or incorrect sentence structure. The language styles may also be at fault. In all such cases, you should review your content multiple times so all linguistic mistakes can be corrected. Flawless language is very important to create the right impression.

Consistency

Your content may be following some prescribed professional styles, but it may have issues of consistency. It is essential to check whether you have used styles, fonts, headings, etc., in a consistent manner throughout the document. For example, it is an error if you have used a specific font style in your first data table and a different one in the second table. Thus, correct all inconsistent usages and format your work well.

Clarity

When you present ideas and arguments, you should write these clearly for your target audience. Your content should be self-explanatory and convey the desired meaning.

Is a PhD for Everyone? Know for Yourself!

Even though it may be called a mere professional qualification, a PhD is not meant for everyone. Academic brightness or excellence in academic grades is not the only pre requisite for a good PhD student. It requires much more than that from a scholar. It requires an independent, self-driven, persistent, flexible , bright, focussed , motivated, dedicated, disciplined, creative……and the list is endless. More of these skills you have the smoother your journey becomes.

I have been into academics for over two decades now and have witnessed a lot of students who get disillusioned with their PhD programmes. This so happens because they start with a lot of unrealistic expectations and rather than learning from other’s mistakes, they repeatedly commit the same mistakes over and over again. Though it is completely agreed that the circumstances in a PhD are completely distinctive at each stage, there are certain situations that remain unchanged, irrespective of the stage of the PhD , discipline chosen or the country where the course being pursued.

Looking at all this wouldn’t it be better to pick lessons from the pitfalls and mistakes of others so as to save yourself from all the frustration, loss of time and dissatisfaction.

Find here some tips that would help you to face the decision that you have now taken:

1. Be cautious of a wise selection of your supervisor. Invest time and effort at the initial stage itself so that you can be sure of not having to face the miseries of a wrong choice of a supervisor.

2. Always keep room for flexibility and changes at the last minute, especially when you have chosen to do experimental work. There will be many chances that things may not fall or work in a way that you planned at the initial stage. A lot of modification may be circumstantial.

3. Have a positive approach towards your hard work in your doctoral research. Look at it as a luxury that you have got only once in your life to work on an original idea as a scientist. Well, this is true unless you really want to start working on another PhD.

4. Become reliable for your own self. Keep your words and commitments that you make, not just to your supervisor but to your own self as well. So that your supervisor builds and sustains the trust in you, remember to communicate in advance when, at times, you cannot live up to your commitments.

5. Do not strive for perfectionism, but do strive for professionalism. It is perfect enough as long as you are dependable, careful and accurate in your work.

6. Train, develop and push yourself to pen down at every opportunity you get. I have used the word push, do it till it becomes a part of your system. It is easier to learn scientific learning. Of course, there are some who are born writers, but like most of the people who aren’t gifted writers when they start writing at every given opportunity, they do get to pick up the tricks of the skill.

7. Take up only those teaching commitments that really interest and involve you. Also ensure that they should contribute towards the course of your PhD in some way or the other.
8. Last but not the least; enjoy it as the beginning of a fabulous career and a journey that will take you to a great destination.

“R” Are We Aware?

An inseparable part of a researcher’s life is data analysis.  We as researchers often feel as if we eat, sleep and live data.  Have you ever faced a gap between the way you organised data and the way it was expected by the software? I am sure you did!!  And that is nothing less than frustrating.  As a matter of fact,   the means to organise data as per the requirement of the software are often not incorporated in the data analysis sessions which the researchers often frequent.

We have a solution in the software called “R”. Are you aware? As i asked! It is one of the software that has the most contemporary of techniques which help in data reshaping. Specifically the cast and melt function is very useful. The name itself is indicative and talks of reshaping. The net is a great resource to get handy tutorials that simplify the usage of this software.

The cast and melt function offers opportunities m for data manipulation. We struggle with that as researchers in every document we create. The naïve researchers may struggle at the nascent stage with the usage of this tool without the help of tutorials. This is primarily because the too has been created to deal with a whole lot of complexities. Some of the commands to have a restrictive functionality

One may become more acquainted with this concept with regular practice. It is difficult to learn this in a classroom environment as it is also equally important to try your hand at the data manipulative process. If research is your core area, I say, you must try your hand at it. You would surely gain from it!

 You could use the following link to begin with. It would acquaint you with the software.

An Introduction to R – A Brief Tutorial for R {Software for Statistical Analysis}