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.

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.

The beginning of the PhD journey: The PhD Application

A successful PhD application is the beginning of the PhD journey and a work well begun is always half done. Here are some tips with which you can boost up your chances of getting your PhD application accepted:

  1. Have your research about the course, university, subject and other related factors before applying. You must have a criteria over which you evaluate universities, programmes and supervisors so that you are in a position to choose the one that suits your needs in the best way.
  2. If you have a prospective supervisor in mind, brilliant! Make informal contact with him, preferably in person so that you are able to seek his feedback over your proposal, at least briefly before you submit it with the application.
  3. The application process varies and is different from university to university. Make sure that you have read it thoroughly so that you have all necessary documents in place before submitting to the university
  4. Filling of the application form is a meticulous task so it must be done very carefully. Make sure you read it thoroughly and someone else proofreads it for you too. Carelessness can lead to typographical, spelling or grammatical errors that can actually create a bad impression on the screener or anybody else who reviews the application form
  5. Wherever in the form, you find the scope and the opportunity, emphasise on your qualities that would actually help you to shine out as a successful and independent researcher. In this attempt, be honest and do not exaggerate else it may completely bring down the good impression that you were trying to create.
  6. If there is a need to select references, make sure you select them carefully as after all this report could actually make all the difference. The referees you include should be chosen carefully and should be aware about your plan so that upon cross checking they aren’t taken by surprise. Also ensure they have a copy of your CV so they know your skill and strength area well, in case enquired.
  7. Most of the time in your PhD application, the critically important thing that should be devoted maximum time is the research proposal. Treat it as important as the PhD itself with all formatting and content in place.
  8. Do not forget to proofread your document thoroughly, yourself as well as from someone so that even the smallest of errors can get done with.
  9. Adhere to the deadline!!

Having a research document helps to write better research papers

It would not be uncommon to sit in front of a blank screen, clueless when you start to write a research paper. It is quite natural that it may not occur to you what you intended to write in your paper or something you had read somewhere that you wanted to incorporate. In addition, you may have sometimes got stuck with finding a reference you have lost somewhere or perhaps all the content that you desired or thought to incorporate in your research is scattered around in a way you don’t know how to compile or put together.

I am sure you have faced these kind of problems often and hence learning to create a research document is important for you and it can be of great help. Now what is the way to create a research document and what are the ways in which you can organise your research?

 Firstly you must write an essay plan before you actually initiate writing an academic essay.  This is what we call as a research document. It becomes your guide and fundamental base upon which you rest the organisation of your research. Your essay plan has the bullet points or dot points which you plan to incorporate in your essay as different sub heads. As you keep reading content, it is a good idea to jot down the information along the way. It really isn’t necessary that you have to type everything. All that is required is relevant and important information in the essay. Once you have done that, at a later stage you can add your own notes or elaborate on the content as per your requirement.  This approach is a very beneficial approach and this research document that you create would be very helpful for you in the following ways:

  1. You don’t have to rely on or strain your memory to retain every small little detail
  2. At the time of writing, all  information will be there with you without anything important getting left out
  3. Facts distortion would not happen
  4. When you elaborate each fact with your own extension, you would clearly know which part is your content and which has been taken from sources
  5. It helps to organise ideas better
  6. While you are doing this,  you can work around creating your own reference list too simultaneously so you are not piled up with work at the later stage for creating the entire reference chapter from a scratch

Is it good to get your research paper done?

A lot of scholars are unsure about the right time to buy research paper online and whether it is prudent enough to do so or no. Here are few reasons and situations that will guide you through whether you should be spending money over buying research papers online or no. Always remember that there is no substitute to hard work and your own writing and there may be certain circumstances when you don’t have a choice but to get your research paper done paid. There are few situations here when it is okay to get it done from outside.

Are you pressed on time? :  this is one of the many reasons because of which we see scholars purchasing papers when they have a harsh deadline above their head and they have no time to live up to it. You must list down all your constraints before you actually go ahead with your purchase options. You must know all possibilities if there are for you to complete your work on your own, either by taking some help from someone or doing it all by yourself. If you feel there is no feasibility for you to go ahead with these options, it is ok to go ahead and hire a professional to do it for you.

Are your grades stake: this is another important factor to consider if your research paper is going to have an impact on your grades and you feel relatively incompetent in your capacity to live up the expectations of getting a good grade. Remember that if your grades are of grave importance and writing the paper is very daunting for you, it is a good idea to go ahead with customized service for your research paper. Time crunch issue may further be important here.

Does it fall in your budget: you must know the prices in the market for the kind of work you are going to do? They must suit your pocket. Most of the writing services charge on hour or word count basis so calculate how much it would cost you and what are the alternative payment options to suit your monthly budget.

 If you feel that your grades are important for you and you are hard pressed on time while you individually lack the ability to produce the quality expected, you must consider the option of getting your research paper paid.  It will say you a lot of stress!

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.

Can We Do Something Even before Creating a Rough Draft?

The starting of the writing process is not very easy. People get stuck from where to begin and how to begin. As a researcher myself, my understanding is that people get stuck with writing in the beginning of the process only because they wish to be able create a document that is just perfect in the first go itself. Don’t you think we expect too much from ourselves by wanting to create the perfect choice of words, sentence structuring, spelling and grammar and streamlining ideas in a way that there wasn’t any scope and room for improvement?

This massive expectation from self is nothing but a journey towards downfall unlike motivation that we expect it to. It blocks up your writing at the initial stage itself as you keep feeling that you haven’t done your best and you could perhaps do so much better.

Calm down and relax by assuring yourself that it is ok if there is a scope of improvement in your document at the first stage and it is unreasonable to expect from any writer to create a perfect piece of writing at the initial stage itself. One needs to structure the work at before actually starting to write for which we all create a rough draft. But before that you need to be doing discovery. The discovery stage is an informal stage, but the foundation stage which creates the base for the developing a document whose strong base is very important as it gives you the freedom to explore and identify the purpose of what you want to say through your writing. When you are at the discovery stage, I suggest give a free hand to yourself to come out with whacky ideas without any inhibitions and bounding. The focus here should not be on accuracy of grammar and fonts. Rather, just discover from intrinsic and extrinsic sources the ideas that inspire you to create your document. Your brain needs to be trained to send ideas for you to compile and this is what discovery is all about. Once you have done your identification then think about the appropriate use of words, spellings and structuring so that gradually you can work around streamlining your ideas and filling the gaps.

Know that the tasks that appear the simplest are the most challenging and getting your ideas from your head onto the paper is the simplest way to have great accomplishments.

What Is A “Most Wanted” Supervisor Like?

Researchers face a lot of challenge with supervisors and all of us scholars are forever cribbing about the agonies we face at the hand of our supervisors. Compiling the suggestion of scholars and their problems, here is a list of the top ten qualities that each supervisor can have to get that “most wanted” supervisor tag:

1. Effective Communication Skills:  As a supervisor primarily it is very important to communicate clearly so that there are no misunderstandings or confusions created with your scholars. It helps to receive more correct and acceptable work from the subordinate if we are able to express effectively what we are seeking.

2. Adaptability: the world is dynamic and at a very rapid pace. The efficient supervisors keep up with the pace and keep updating their norms and rules and not get stuck with redundant old aged practices. Accommodating with needs and requirements of the scholars is a sign of a good and preferred supervisor.

3. Become a mentor: A mentor is someone who does not restrict his wisdom to himself and shares it with his students. Share your experiences, learning and knowledge with them in a way that it simplifies their journey and helps them to improvise their performance. It would help to make your bond with them stronger.

4. Exemplify: Being someone who always delegates tasks and responsibility creates some kind of negativity in the scholar, taking up projects yourself is a way to set example for others that hard work and effort is imperative. Take challenge about how any work is important and show others how it can be done perfectly. It would earn you a lot of respect.

5. Accessibility: If the scholars feel a sense of hesitation in approaching their supervisor then it isn’t good news. An efficient supervisor makes sure that there is enough accessibility and openness between him and his scholars to approach without any hitch, whatever be the issue of discussion.

6. Positivity and consideration:  positivity keeps one grounded and modest so brings in consideration about the wellbeing of the scholars and know that they have a life beyond PhD.  With this perspective, you would be rational when settling deadlines and improve the productivity of the scholars.

7. Constructive criticism:  Criticism is necessary but it should be proportionate to the mistake and should be always with the intention to improvise the quality of the document rather than belittle the scholar is always taken in the right spirit.

So , here goes the list and do hand it over to your supervisor to simplify your life or adopt if you are one of those nasty supervisor.

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.