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.

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.

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!!

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

Get your fundamentals of plagiarism clear

Writers and researchers around the world take opinion and ideas about their writing from existing literature and taking that as a base only helps to create a new research. So it is not new or uncommon to incorporate existing knowledge into your literature.  In fact it is imperative but still you need to be very cautious of plagiarism. So if I can include existing material in my study then what exactly do we mean by plagiarism?

Webster’s Online Dictionary defines “plagiarizing” as:

To steal and pass off (the ideas or words of another) as one’s own; use (another’s production) without crediting the source;

or

To commit literary theft; present as new and original an idea or product derived from an existing source.

 So, in simple terminology, plagiarism is that content you include in your study that does not have appropriate credits. Which further means that it is ok to repeat ideas, quotations, information, arguments in your research from other sources  but at the same time the original author needs to be given the credit for the same and if the new researcher who is using the idea refrains from doing so , he is committing the crime of plagiarism.

Plagiarism isn’t as easy to identify and locate as it exists in forms more than one.  The most extreme kind of plagiarism is using someone else’s document in complete duplication and can actually have very extreme consequences for the researcher if caught doing so. It can lead to getting fired from your job or even get sued for infringement of copyright.

The most commonly found type of plagiarism is commonly seen on the internet where people copy others ideas and change the wordings but maintain the essence of the content without actually extending the due credit to the original writer.

Another commonly found type of plagiarism is out if sheer carelessness from the side if the author where  he isn’t particular about adding citations at the proper places, not with the intention to cheat or duplicate the work but just being careless or lazy to out up the citations or references. This common error can easily be averted by being meticulous and careful every time something is written down from a source to include it in the references.

 These were the most commonly found types of plagiarism, another type though can be included too herewith. Sometimes the writer builds an entire document taking content from various sources and citing them appropriately but does not incorporate any original thoughts or ideas into it. Then again the research loses it basic nature and cannot be categorised as original research.

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.

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.

A checklist before you actually start writing your thesis

Completion of master’s thesis gives you a great sense of accomplishment. It indeed is because you are contributing a unique addition in the existing body of academic knowledge.  But it doesn’t come easy. The sense of pride and accomplishment would only come after you have overcome many an odds in the journey. Taking up doctoral study as they say it is “Easier said than done”

 Out of all the challenges that your doctoral journey puts you through, getting kick-start is one of the biggest ones. So that you begin well and are able to proceed in a planned manner, we bring for your here an exhaustive technical checklist of the things that you need to do and should have prepared and planned in advance.

  1. Topic
  2. Supervisor
  3. Literature on your research area
  4. Methodology to be followed
  5. Funding(if required)
  6. Before you start your research, you need to know what you want to research about. Rather it is better and advisable to have a precise topic in your mind that you are passionate about and you feel will be worthy of quality research. When you chose your topic, be sure that it is something you are familiar with. It is not   as easy to have a topic ready ad it may require some amount of narrowing and trimming. Your chosen topic will help you to create your thesis statement and you need to do it after a lot of thought process.
  7. From among the members of your department, you must have a chosen supervisor who is willing to become your advisor and professional guide. Ensure that he or she has specialised knowledge  and is also well versed in the area of research
  8. Before actually proceeding with doctoral research you must be store house of knowledge in your area of research. It involves a lot of reading. It will let you know the gap in the existing research and in what ways is your research different from what has already been done.
  9. Your research has to be specific and at the same time valid and acceptable in the academic community. You would need your advisors help here and that is acceptable so do not shy away from doing so.
  10. Sometimes the research process involves lot of expenditure, especially when it involves equipment and material. If finances are your concern, you need to find a willing benefactor and prepare your foundation in such a way that your research sounds worthy of getting financed.

You Got to Race against Time to Finish Your PhD Faster!!

All the PhD students are worrisome about the time it would take to complete their research, dissertation and whether they would be able to complete successfully and move on. Most of the scholars take little more than the stipulated time they thought they would take. That is quite reasonable. But at the same time, there are many others, who struggle for several months or sometimes even years, so that finally they can finish but that takes a lot of time. Then there are also many of them who give up/quit along the way because of the frustration that builds up from the delay.

Today we would discuss some ways and techniques to avoid the pitfalls that are associated with an unduly extended PhD programme. Particularly the implications on research. What is surprising and good to know is that the hindrances associated with a PhD programme can be easily anticipated and avoided. You just need to be vigilant and aware of how best you can identify the causes that unnecessarily linger on your programme and find ways and means to avoid them. The key is to find out the steps to maintain good progress in your work that is not just at a reasonable pace but also consistent. If you are one of those scholars who already falls in the category of laggards and has fallen off the rails, all is not lost. Even if you are late, you can get on track and visualise for timely completion of the programme. Because you can only do it, once you surely make up your mind that you can do it. Whatever be your expertise of the course, whether you are a scholar in science, technology, engineering or mathematics, the approach towards better and more focussed time management is required and imperative for the course.

Finishing your PhD on time is not just important for you as a scholar but also it is a responsibility that you share with your supervisor. Hence, it is necessary that you work together. It won’t be surprising that sometimes a conflict may arise between you both and put you both’s interests at odds. I don’t know, how justified it is, but many doctoral students see their supervisors as crucial obstacles in the timely completion of their programme. Whether it is true or not, the onus of timely completion lies on you as end of the day, it is your PhD and your own responsibility.