How can you be double sure when checking your thesis?

A good thesis is an outcome of a lot of hard work, and extensive research for a long span of time. The writer has to be confident about the work that has been done, before it is submitted for approval.

At the inception stage of the work, the emphasis is on collecting, and compiling information to be incorporated in the thesis. As a writer one must be confident about the information that is being used, and the reliability of the sources from where the information is being retrieved. There would be less or no fear of rejection of work, after it is submitted, if these finer details are taken care of at the initial stages.

 The most challenging part is to create a document that is free from errors, big or small, and the content has grammatical accuracy. Information in every aspect of the topic of research should be covered.  Whenever you use information in thesis, it should be again verified for authenticity and accuracy. Particularly when talking about facts and figures. The spellings and grammar should be thoroughly checked. The first impression about the thesis is created from its appearance, so the formatting of the thesis is very important. With all these small but important concerns to take care of, getting an expert involved is always a good idea. A cross checking from the side of an expert can lift up the quality of your thesis manifold.

When you assign the task of checking your thesis to a seasoned person, the review and suggestions would be unbiased and unrealistic. It is a good idea, before thesis submission, the content must be assessed by an expert individual or a company that provides such services. You can begin the task yourself by checking the grammar and plagiarism in your content by using various free software that are available online. Make sure that you don’t forget to check the typographical issues before you decide to submit the document.

It is certainly a good help to get the quality of your thesis enriched by someone who has the expertise to extract out the smallest of flaws and surface out frank and unbiased opinion. Your thesis is going to win you your Ph.D. degree, so it should be taken out from the hands of an expert editor to give the final flawless look, which you can feel proud of, not once but even much after you have completed your Ph.D.

After Research Completion and Before Writing: What to Prepare?

After you have completed your research work, your work is still far from completion. This is the final stage but still important and time consuming as writing up your research may be one of the most difficult tasks of a project. The final report should be concise, good and effective and that is a task in itself. When you start to work on your report, these are some of the general considerations that you must keep in your mind:

Your Readers:  Who is going to be the audience for your report? The content and depth of your report will vary according to the expertise and intellectual capital of your readers and the purpose with which your reader is going to be reading it. Sometimes the audience may just want a summary of results and sometimes you have to write for clearing a PhD exam. Whatever it is, keep your reader in mind.

The concept: Every research project has a major concept on which the report rests. It is a good idea to weave the concept in the form of a story for the reader to find it engrossing. This is even possible for very formal reports, where a good story line can actually lift up the interest rating of an otherwise dull and boring report. It is a very difficult proposition for a report, which otherwise is filled with facts and findings and you want to tell all those to the reader because you have done a lot of hard work for it. But, if you view the research from the perspective of the audience, you would find it better to let go of some details that may be very dear to you, and find place for them in the technical appendices or tables, if necessary.

Formatting: In the beginning itself, if you are aware and careful about the formatting considerations and guidelines of the university/journal/book for which you are doing the research, then it is easy to get your work accepted. There are examples and stories that tell us, that the best of work was rejected because of poor formatting or labeling done by the writer.

If you begin the expression of your research, in context to writing, with these aspects kept in mind, it would be easier for you to create a document that would be acceptable and appreciated by all.

Qualitative research and its advantages

Comprehending humans has been a challenge ever since. That is the reason that research in Social Sciences positions   challenges that are altogether different and unique as compared to natural sciences. In natural sciences it is possible to replicate the results by repeated experiments and get conclusive with results but in social sciences, it is all about unprejudiced observation, and there is no scope of having replication in results, so definite understanding becomes very challenging.

However, the advantages that are associated with qualitative research still uphold their relevance.  The foremost thing is that the qualitative methods work the best in a situation where quantitative methods are not usable.  Also, this method sets free the researcher from the pressure of manipulating the variables and work around multiple time repetition of experiment in a strife to get duplication in results. Because qualitative research has more emphasis on observation and better understanding that leads to development of opinions and feelings in a better way. To add further, it sustains the dynamic nature of the group and creates a brilliant opportunity for the researcher as he can be an observer of the nonverbal gestures too. This helps in better results and deeper understanding of what is not available on the surface.

 Qualitative research helps to examine the issue more in depth as compared to quantitative research.  It also gives the scope to redirect the course of the interview as per the understanding and requirement of the researcher. There is always the flexibility in qualitative research to modify the research framework as unexplored information emerges on the surface. The kind of the data that comes out from qualitative research is far more profound and sometimes even surprisingly compelling. And last but not the least the findings from a qualitative research can easily be transferred to another set up, regarding applicability.

 There are a few limitations of qualitative research. That holds true for all kinds of research. Some of the main limitations are; firstly, the lack of a comprehensive data set. It happens because the data collection technique is more interview and observation based.   This involves a lot of time and effort from the end of the researcher, so no surplus data is also often collected.

 The second main limitation is that generalizations are more accurate and possible with quantitative research as compared to qualitative research. Qualitative research is more based on descriptive categorization of data as compared to prescriptive.

Have an enriched academic writing style for definite success

If an enriched writing style is what you want, you need to inculcate in yourself few skills and work towards enhancing as well as nurturing them. Here is the way:

 Have a planned writing schedule: Good planning is very essential if you want to have a fixed and consistently enriched academic writing style. Some of the key benefits are:

  1. Have a clear idea regarding the purpose of each of the sections of your document
  2. Have a more direct approach towards writing and that would surely develop when you have the purpose clear
  3. Learn how to stick to the given word count by expressing completely what you intend to
  4. Try to stay away from inessential information

Adhere to the plan: Once you have made a strict plan, what is required is to stick to the plan. If you find your plan not working, it may either be unrealistic or obsolete and may need revisions. Work on them.

Adopt a direct writing approach: In an attempt to write indirectly, one can go in the zone of unclear thinking, negative construction.  This may further lead to unclear sentences. If you so feel that you lack the sufficient knowledge to express some idea, it is better to first bridge the gap rather than using modifiers of probability. Enhance your in-depth knowledge of the topic and you would automatically write clearer sentences.  Try not to have mane negative sentences in your content. The lesser the better. Try to rewrite the negative sentences by rewriting them in a positive way. You may have to reduce the length of your sentences in the process, which is acceptable.

Write in active voice: writing in active voice is important for more compressed and easy to understand sentences. Use active voice wherever possible to be able to come out with more firm and tighter sentences

Make as short sentences as possible:  Complex sentences are usually unexpected and not acceptable in academic writing.  Even if some of the ideas are complex and require a complex structure in their expression, try to retain the simplicity to the extent best possible. This is because it is a lot easier for a reader to follow simpler sentences and at the same time, it further leads them to staying engaged in the process of reading because they were able to comprehend everything without much effort and to the best of their capability.

We will continue in the next blog with some more tips on becoming an enriched writer, keep your focus here!!

Is blogging helpful for PhD students?

No PhD scholar wants to make his life harder by writing more than his thesis or other essential assignments. So who would agree that PhD scholars should be blogging as well? There are indeed a lot of plus sides of blogging and here are a few to discuss that could incline you towards blogging if you are a blogger:

  1. A platform for communicating ideas: You are building a huge piece of research by taking up doctoral studies. Feel proud that you will be making a contribution in the existing human knowledge and it is important to tell people the reason your contribution is significant. If you have adequately communicated your invented ideas and contribution there are easier and brighter chances of your research getting more favourable acceptance in the academic and non-academic community.
  2. Building networking: If you are into blogging about your area on research, it can help you to find people around the world who may be interested in your work. It can also become a source of advice, future collaborations and even long term networking from enthusiastic supporters around the world through just a medium of regular expression of ideas.
  3. Enhance your writing skills: Regular expression of thoughts is a good way to learn to write better and if you are more tech savvy you may also end up developing skills such as presentation skills or video blogging, if you chose to do video blogging.
  1. Enrich your professional profile: A researcher who also writes regularly and is good in expression of ideas and concepts gets to add another feather in his cap and enrich his profession profile which goes beyond just being a researcher.
  1. Improve prospects of getting placed: Academic positions are sought over around the world as hot cakes. The applicants are many and the seats are few. You have to do all that is possible to market yourself so that you can get the position you are looking for. If you have a presence online it surely is a depiction of your additional skill and improves your chances of getting a job. A blogger leaves an impression of someone being enthusiastic, passionate and interesting other than talented and multi-tasking.
  1. Come into the notice of publishers: If you intend to continue writing books after your PhD or even convert your thesis into a book then you have bright chances of getting noticed by worthy publishers through an impressive online profile it surely is going to benefit you in the long run.

Do you want to accelerate your publication process? Here is how to go about it!

 Writing a research paper is a journey in itself and the publication process can all the more add to the miseries of the daunting journey. Here are the ways to add up and accelerate the process of publication for you:

  1. Get in touch with the journal: It is always better to take up a pre submission enquiry of the chosen journal so that you can know their interest in your manuscript.  The response would give a fair idea whether you have a chance of paper acceptance here or no and whether is it worth to proceed with the long and grilling pre submission process.
  1. Stay glued to the guidelines: Journals are very specific of their guidelines and very particular about them also, at the same time. If you adhere to the guidelines very meticulously, you avoid all unnecessary delays in the publication process.
  1. Have an impressive cover letter: The first impression is the last impression. It is a means to showcase the relevance and findings of your work. Know always that an effective cover letter that is sent to an appropriate journal works in a great way to convince the editors immediately to proceed your manuscript further for the review process.
  1. Do regular follow ups: There is no standard time for follow ups with journals for the time taken for the review process. You may learn about it from formal sources such as the website of the journal, guide or from colleagues and friends who have prior experience of publication with that journal. It is ok to keep patience for a while and then check with the journal for any update about the manuscript so that you don’t miss on to any development that may have taken place.
  1. Do respond to reviewers comments: In worthy and reputed journals, the manuscript almost always comes back with changes and recommendations for the writer. It is must to give a thorough, clear and a very polite response to the editor’s and reviewers comments. It would increase the chances of acceptance in the next round of review, this saving you some good time.

Whatever stage of research you be, these tips would surely  help you to improvise and accelerate your publication process and make you feel at peace after having done all the work in the research journey.

Human proofreading vs. proofreading by machine

The life of a researcher is as busy as a bee. Between the process of designing and performing studies, applying for funding, attending conferences m writing manuscripts and multiple other commitments, there is hardly anytime that is left for a   task called proofreading. Though it is a very important part, it often goes neglected. One of the fast paced approach for this is to use the automated proof-reader. It typically comprises fast paced web based services or plug ins that can be used for checking grammar, spelling and style. These proof-readers have lot of advantages, few main ones being that they are available 24X7, give quick results and are most of the times comfortable on the pocket. This makes them as a very luring and attractive option. However there aren’t all positive reviews about these services. Many a times these programmes have been found to miss errors and inconsistencies, which is the main task of proofreading and eve suggest changes that could be unnecessary. It sometimes even over looks logical gaps in content. But at the same time human proofreading is also not flawless and is surely subject to oversights and misinterpretations. So which is a good alternative?

 There is one area, according to me, where the preference of a human proof-reader would be more than that of the digital one. That area is surely the area of academic research and understanding the use of field specific terms. The online software would only focus upon contextual spellings, grammar, punctuations and style but overlook the flow and logic in the document. The human expert eye would read the document from the perspective of an average reader and find flaws that may not be technically wrong always but could be made simpler or easier for the average reader. This is one of the most crucial advantage of human proofreading even if it takes more time and money as compared to its digital counterpart.

Basically, automated proofreading services aren’t intended fir writers to achieve master of a higher level in the language. They are useful and acceptable for basic proofreading and surely not the best choice for technical writing. Live subject area experts surely have an advantage here.

So next time when you are tempted to go for digitised proofreading to save time and money, know what to expect and ensure your expectations match with  the objective of proofreading set by you.

Some Important Requisites of Academic Writing

English academic writing is linear in nature. By linear we mean it has one central point around which the entire conversation revolves and contributes to the main argument.  The core objective of academic writing is to inform and not entertain, unlike fiction. If we need to learn the nuances of academic writing one needs to know eight main features. They are

  1. Complexity
  2. Formal tone
  3. Objectivity
  4. Explicitly
  5. Hedging
  6. Responsibility
  7. Precision
  8. Accuracy

1. Complexity: the complexity or written language is far more than oral language. It has longer words more lexical density and richer and diverse vocabulary. More phrasal use of noun words, grammatical intricacies and use of passive tone increases its complexity manifold.

2. Formal tone: the tone of academic writing is relatively more formal so which means colloquial words and expressions should be not included.

3. Objectivity: Written academic language should not be created with personal understanding. It should have an element of objectivity in it focusing more upon the information you give and the argument you present. Do not let it come near to the focus on you. Hence use more nouns and adjectives as compared to verbs.

4. Explicitly: it is the responsibility of the writer to ensure that there is a linkage between the various part of the text and the reader also is able to easily establish that link. Academic writers should use signalling words for this purpose.

5. Hedging: Academic writing requires the writer to make decisions regarding the point you are presenting and your strength should reflect in your argument.

6. Responsibility: responsibility is an integral term that is associated with academic writing. They go hand in hand. As an academic writer, you are also responsible for demonstration of understanding of your sources that you have used in the text.

7. Precision: Whenever you use facts and figures in academic writing, be sure to be precise and talk to the point. Many a times even a slight variation in the figures can completely change the comprehension of the context. Keep that in mind.

8. Accuracy: The use of vocabulary in academic writing has to be done very accurately, especially with words that have narrow specific meaning. There is a clear distinction between phonetics and phonemics in academic writing and writers should be cautious of it so that the correct interpretation of the words does not dilute with the  use of improper or inaccurate vocabulary.

My Perspective Towards My PhD

Being in the final year of my PhD, I have been through it and seen a bit.  I wish to bring on  the table some tips on what has actually helped me along the way.

Remain open on the idea that your research would move in varied directions:  It is natural that you would devise a path for your PhD at its infancy itself but it is not wise to believe and stay adamant that it would remain on the same path through its course. What is required from your end is to allow it to evolve into a more interesting and meaningful research. The course it may take may something diverse and unthought-of before by you. Keeping a more progressive and enriched experience would provide you with the opportunities to take forward your research with newer avenues so that the thesis could be enriched and evolved in unexplored dimensions.

 Develop a good rapport with your supervisor: This is critically important.  It is so because it would increase the interest of both you and your supervisor in your project.  You of course would be giving your own idea and explanation of your project  but looking at it from your supervisors eye can  add to the depth of the study and  fine tune your research with a more critical and experienced eye. It is after all for your own benefits so do focus on it.

Use a judicious approach to plan time:   you know it, I know but still I would state it. It so happens you know when we end up spending a long span of time on an activity that could be done faster. In that process there happens a lot of deviation from where you began. It is then important to keep checking your progress from where you started and work around trying to finish the work in the stipulated time.

Bring variety in your work schedule:  If you stick on to one kind of work and drag it along there is going to be monotony in your life. If you feel that one facet of your work becomes dry and draggy, quickly transit towards another periphery.  Use all sections of your brain equally and go back to the work when you feel refreshed and energised again.

 Take out time for friends: If you get too immersed and engrossed in your PhD, it can become a very isolating journey. To be able to maintain the momentum, it is important to have some people in your life, especially those who aren’t doing their PhD. It will bring in flavours in your life that would continue to maintain the excitement and charm of your life and keep away boredom.

 Remember, it only is a PhD:  Keep a constant reminder to yourself that after all it is just a qualification. Each individual is unique, distinct and the success or failure of others should not have an impact on you.

Last but not the least, Let yourself be you and you PhD be the PhD. Do not end up becoming your PhD

Fear of Success Can Jeopardize Your Doctoral Success

My friend Keshav had worked hard on his dissertation. Years together of consistent toil and hard work with strenuous phases. But he did not give up. It was now time for him to submit his dissertation in a month’s time. In the final stage when he was swiftly close to finishing, I observed a strange kind of behaviour. The finishing line came as a stage which was difficult to bear. He had gelled into the idea of not being able to finish that this sudden development, though positive, came as a shock to him, a difficult to absorb shock.

 I got inquisitive and wanted to go in detail of trying to figure out, what was happening?

 I enquired strangely from Keshav, the reasons for this fear and strange behaviour when he was so close to his destination, for which he had worked hard for so many years. It was a self-jeopardy stage.  The reason was the fear of success.

 For research scholars when the dissertation process has been long, even if challenging, there develops some attachment where a never finishing project becomes a definition of self.  Bringing himself into a comfort zone, Keshav, in these years had found pleasure in his sense of failure and struggle and now the step towards success were challenging.  Hence, was his strange behaviour closer to deadline?

 It is important to learn from this live example and by mindful of self-jeopardy. Do not resist finishing your work and procrastinate and avoid the final submission because of this feeling in the sub conscious. Gently train yourself to let go of the old pattern and move forward with the flow.  Prepare yourself for the finish line and the change it will bring for you. It is necessary that you do not define yourself from your accomplishments. That would bring rigidity in your system and adaptations become challenging.

  After all the failures and challenges in your doctoral journey, get ready to EMBRACE SUCCESS.