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Writing as it is Writ Some Examples of Gems from History Each pronoun should agree with their antecedent Just between you and I, case is important A preposition.

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Presentation on theme: "Writing as it is Writ Some Examples of Gems from History Each pronoun should agree with their antecedent Just between you and I, case is important A preposition."— Presentation transcript:

1 Writing as it is Writ Some Examples of Gems from History Each pronoun should agree with their antecedent Just between you and I, case is important A preposition is a poor word to end a sentence with Verbs has to agree with their subject Dont use no double negatives A writer mustnt shift your point of view When dangling, dont use participles Join clauses good, like a conjunction should Dont write a run-on sentence because it is difficult when you got to punctuate it so it makes sense when the reader reads what you wrote About sentence fragments Do you have any others?

2 From Go to ……….. Approaching the Finish Line: How to Write a PhD Thesis OR A man may write at any time, if he will set himself doggedly to it Samuel Johnson

3 Outline of Presentation A thesis is a journey and only one part of your academic training How is a thesis structured, our views Based on the field of biomedical science and social science Questions

4 Synopsis of the Session Background: the concept of a thesis Requirements for a thesis, and the journey there Self authorship COFFEE? Personal issues with creating a thesis Some things to tell students Special cases: internationals; trauma, illnesses Strategies in therapy of avoidance Examiners, editors, exemplars Some things students have told me Your personal experiences Discussion

5 About Laurie PhD in Human Rehabilitation (University of Northern Colorado USA) 15 years at QUT Faculties of Arts, Social Sciences, Built Environment and Engineering and Creative Industries (2012) 8 PhD (supervise) and 4 PhD (co- super) Research focus: with people!

6 About Terry PhD in Biochemistry (UQ) Seven years U Pennsylvania USA Three years Australian National Uni Twenty four years QIT/QUT Director Research Studies FaST Head of School Biomedical Sciences Personal focus –Over two dozen graduated students –Research on structure and function

7 What is a PhD? A holder of a Ph.D. … should have knowledge, skills, perspectives and understanding to be capable of self-directed scientific work of a quality satisfactory to others in the field IUBMB PhD Standards Distinctive contribution to knowledge with evidence of originality shown by discovery of new facts &/or exercise of independent critical power University of London

8 What Does a PhD Signify? Recognition, formulation & resolution of a research question Evaluation of significance of solution Clear written & oral presentation of results Self-directed (original) significant contribution to knowledge Strong sense of research integrity and professional standards

9 What is a thesis? A themed written argument Exposition of original research in context Culmination of an apprenticeship Possibly largest (& most self- indulgent) work students do Something that could be published (is published)

10 Differences among Disciplines Experimental Science –Thesis writing often late in candidature –Hypothesis formulated to test theory –Aims/goals address hypothesis Social Science –Thesis writing begins early –Formulation of research questions –Data gathered, then analysed various ways

11 Getting Started Encourage you to Pin the working title and hypothesis above the work area Read some theses from your group/area Have a plan and concept map Take the lead – use their own words and ideas Plan the argument

12 Things to Help Planning

13 How to write Content – background, methods, results, conclusions Format – typeface, spacing, figures Style – language, logic and efficiency Planning – do it today; yes, NOW Timing – estimate and double or treble it Editing – acceptable inputs Finishing – deciding to draw the line under the exercise

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15 Writing IS fun! CRUNCH TIME (when? – see later)! This is the hardest part Allocate 2 to 3 times the amount of time to writing as to gathering material Students must be writers as well as a researchers - write well Write early and write often Learn to draft and revise Get it right, but get it written first!

16 Simple Structure of a Thesis The Bellmans Rule of Three Overall Introduction – what the thesis says; context of the hypothesis Body of the thesis – what makes the thesis Conclusion – what the thesis said; what it means for future directions Each chapter Introduction – what this chapter says; where it sits in the theme Body of the chapter – methods, results Conclusion – what this chapter means; how it leads logically to the next Each paragraph Introduction – broaches an idea; links to previous ideas Body of the paragraph – describes the idea Conclusion – concludes the idea (and links to next) Not just repetition – linking, theme, rationale, integration

17 A Generic Structure Introduction/Theme Why am I doing this? Literature Review What is known? What is unknown? Aims What do/did I hope to find out? Methodology How is/was it found out? Results What did I find? Discussion What does it mean? Conclusion What is the significance? What applications? Where to next?

18 Thesis by Publication Common practice in many countries QUT has this option Thesis has published manuscripts (as chapters) with format of traditional thesis Discuss this with supervisor early and plan out papers in advance –one has to be accepted before thesis submission

19 Planning the thesis Write one sentence for: Example: Introduction A PhD is examined by a written thesis Problem addressed Many students do not complete on time Literature/background Late submission is highly correlated with delay of start of writing Methods to solve problem Create a thesis map and collect material for each chapter throughout study Results Non-linear approaches bring advances on many fronts Conclusion Drafting and re-drafting chapters is a normal process

20 Developing the Thesis Convert plan/argument into chapters – at least one chapter per sentence perhaps more than one, sometimes perhaps more than one, sometimes Develop a physical structure – set up folders for each chapter have a plan for each chapter have a plan for each chapter Allow the plan to evolve Allow the plan to evolve – dont be worried about changing new results may require reinterpretations new results may require reinterpretations

21 Gathering material Fieldwork, literature review Interviews; Methodology (6 months) Proof of Principle (6 months) Data analysis and validation Maintain notes (laboratory workbooks), but also … –turn notes into thoughts from the start A thesis takes about 60 mins a day – this is about 6 months

22 It Takes MUCH Longer ……. ChTitleLengthTime 1Intro/Abstract500 3 months 2 Lit Review (rev) 20, months 3Methods10, months 4 Results 1 20, months 5 Results 2 20, months 6 Results 3 20, months 7Conclusion10, months Based on experience of 28 PhD and Masters (Research) students

23 Bibliography – it doesnt come last Keep a database of complete references –Use an accepted reference style Use a tool (Endnote) –Get the detail right first time Spelling, page numbers, titles, publishers Try to be consistent throughout –Published & unpublished works Explain variations up front

24 Special Cases International Students –Expressions –Cultures –Support networks Changing & Forming Relationships –Friend or mentor –External demands –Peer groups

25 Maintaining Momentum Strategies in Therapy of Avoidance

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27 Tricks for Staying Focussed Practise often: the pitch sentences that summarise what the thesis is about the paragraph –the abstract of the thesis the page –a chance to briefly outline an argument Align the exercises to current work and problems If there are problems in any of these, it is a symptom of a lack of focus, structure and clarity!

28 Problems with writing 1 How do I plan? When do I plan? The best way and time is at the beginning: –Stage 2, Confirmation, Progress Reports, laboratory books (diaries/journals) are all part of thesis writing PhD project management should include a strand for thesis writing Consult, review, TODAY.

29 Problems with writing 2 I think I have writers block I think I have writers block work on manageable pieces work on manageable pieces write down the main points – revisit your theme write down the main points – revisit your theme you dont have to write it in order you dont have to write it in order accept there are several drafts – get the ideas down accept there are several drafts – get the ideas down complex ideas may not be linear – draw a concept map complex ideas may not be linear – draw a concept map

30 Problems with Writing 3 I have trouble showing it is my idea Recommended passive tenses can cloud attributions. Try making the authors the subject of the sentence – use in my opinion if necessary. Dont be afraid to play with sentence structure to get the idea across – practice expression and interpretation as a team.

31 Examiners and Editing

32 Think about the Examiners Discuss them early with supervisors Examiners are busy (like you) Examining is a chore –Make it easy; they might become colleagues & mentors Most theses are read in trains, boats, planes and buses Oh no, not another one

33 What does an examiner do? Typical scan of a thesis Abstract Conclusions Contents listing Figures Major chapters Introduction, literature review Then – questions: Are they answered or considered? Is any of it published? Corrections: some examiners think this is the only way to show theyve read it; expect to have some Finally, a quick read

34 Editing - know the different versions Three types: substantive editing exemplary editing proof-reading Supervisors are helpers and advisors, – not editors or proof readers

35 Editing – how much is too much? You are being trained –Become familiar with reference texts on style; workshops on writing are available –Understand why expressions and structures are changed – ambiguities, break down complex concepts, overly long sentences confuse, etc –Good ideas need clear English Parsing, punctuation, precis Parsing, punctuation, precis This publication will have my name on it

36 Summary Start today, never later Keep title and hypothesis handy Write down skeleton arguments clearly Expand arguments into chapters Keep concurrent folders for each chapter Keep the thesis plan a living plan Simple sentences, simple ideas, linked structures Maintain your project plan (manage, revise, update) Dont be afraid to cut and cull Be prepared for multiple drafts Know your audience Help the reader to understand Get advice from others (reading drafts) Finally, remember: You will probably know more about the thesis, as a whole, than any of the examiners.

37 Things I Have Been Told

38 Would you be comfortable with these titles? Multiple infections among newborns resulting from implantation with Staphylococcus aureus Preliminary canine and clinical evaluation of a new anti-tumour agent, Streptovitacin Isolation of antigens from monkeys using complement-fixation techniques

39 Efficiency of Expression - 1 Many authors, including this laboratory (1), have been engaged in the study of the identification and detection of specific biologically active molecules by autographic methods. This problem has recently been reviewed (2). Many authors (1-4) have used autographic methods to detect and identify biologically required molecules (for review see ref 4).

40 Efficiency of Expression - 2 Using L. arabinosus, detection of about 10-3 µg of pantothenic acid was possible utilising the tetrazolium plate technique, meanwhile detection of 10-4 µg and even less was achieved by the slide method advocated here. However, E. coli produced a somewhat more satisfactory growth response than L. arabinosus, for this species forms more compact and easily observed microcolonies upon incubation at suitable growth temperatures. With L. arabinosus, the tetrazolium plate technique could detect 10-3 µg of pantothenic acid whereas the slide method could detect as little as 10-4 µg. The growth response with this organism was, however, more difficult to observe than with E. coli, which forms more compact microcolonies on incubation.

41 Efficiency of Expression - 3 The slide method reported appears to offer a possible useful application in identification of unknown paper chromatogram spots. Since the lowest concentration of most amino acids detectable as spots lies in the range of 10-1 µg to 5.0 µg and this method will detect as little as 10-2 µg (Table 1), it would perhaps be possible in many cases to cut a spot area into two or more pieces and screen it against several different organisms with varying amino acid requirements. The very high specificity of nutrient requiring mutant bacteria would provide a precise means of identification which may often be applied in circumstances wherein limitations of time or availability of sample are prohibitory to identification of spots by more conventional methods.

42 Efficiency of Expression - 3a The method may perhaps be applied to the identification of unknown compounds on paper chromatograms; spots cut from such chromatograms could be incubated with auxotrophic bacteria having highly specific nutrient requirements. Spots of amino acids that are detectable with spray reagents contain at least 0.1 to 5.0 µg, and since the slide method will detect as little as 0.01 µg (Table 1), a single spot from a chromatogram could, if necessary, be divided and tested against several organisms with different amino acid requirements. This bioassay would be rapid, sensitive and specific.

43 References Books Truss, L. Eats, Shoots and Leaves Profile Books, London, Day, R. How to write a scientific paper ISI Press 1979 Cribb & Hartomo Sharing Knowledge: A Guide to Effective Science Communication CSIRO Publishing 2002 (more about general communication than theses) Web Sites (accessed 10/05/2012) learningforsustainability.net/research/phd_research.php


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