2What is research in a nutshell? A sustained activity for the purpose of finding answers to questionsIs it a worthwhile question (so what?) -- …A planned, systematic investigationbut to what purpose?So that the answer is as valid and reliable as possiblyControl for potential sources of error (bias)Eliminate alternative explanations/answersExamine the theoretical basis for drawing the conclusionThe answer is generalizablebut to what contextAssumptions and theoretical basis of the study are examinedBuilds on previous workLimitations of the study are examined
3Different Research Approaches Quantitative QualitativePurpose To explain & predict To describe & explainTo confirm & validate To explore & interpretTo test theory To build theoryNature Focused HolisticKnown variables Unknown variablesPredetermined methods Emergent methodsContext free Context boundDetached view Personal viewData Numeric Textual/image-based Representative (large) Informative (small)Standard instruments Loosely structured
4Structure of a Research Report AbstractIntroductionLiterature reviewResearch methodFindingsDiscussionConclusionReferencesAppendices
5Abstract A summary of the report Usually does not exceed 1 page (double-spaced)Emphasis placed on objectives of study, methodology, significant findings, and recommendationsUsually written upon completion of the entire reportInformative vs. indicative abstractIndicative abstract: gives an indication of what information can be found in the paperInformative abstract: includes a summary of the research results/findings
6Research proposal Introduction section Background: Context (local & international), subject area of your study, perspective from which the topic is addressedProblem statement: what’s the problem and why is it important to study itResearch objectivesThe research objectives areto find out …The research questions areWhatWhyHowExplain, clarify the research objectivesSpecify the scope of the studyBriefly state the data collection method
7Literature review Overview of lit review Previous studies and their resultsYour critique of previous studiesHow your current study fits in the literature
8What is a literature review? Summary of previous papers/studiesWith a purpose/messageTo show the relation between your study & previous studiesTo show a gap in the knowledge that your study fills (research contribution)To extend current knowledge to new situations (replication)To confirm current knowledge (replication)
9Other purposes of a literature review To define and explain important conceptsTo give an overview of the topic and provide background informationTo identify/synthesize a theory or model that will be used to explain the results of your studyTo generate hypotheses to be confirmed or refuted in your studyTo carry out a meta-analysis: to analyze the results of several studies to arrive at a more authoritative conclusionTo demonstrate your breadth/depth of knowledgeEtc.
10Typical problemsSummary of 1 paper after another. No organization of informationNo relation to current studyNo critique of previous studies, no evaluation of the results of previous studiesMissing important informationInaccuracy. Misquote or misuse of information. Information taken out of contextPlagiarismNo proper citationNo paraphrase (cut & paste)Poor language & style
11Beware of plagiarism 2 levels of intellectual property Ideas and contentExpression and languageProvide citation for other people’s ideasIn addition, use quotation marks around passages used verbatim (cut and paste)Avoid cut and pasteRead article & paraphrase from memoryCheck the paraphrase for accuracy and that it’s not an exact copy
12Research method section How are you going to collect data (data collection) in a way that will address the research questionsHow will the research method guard against biases and random errors?How will the research method allow you to generalize your results beyond the participants of your study?How does it rule out alternative explanations?
13Frequently used data collection methods Questionnaire surveyOperational data (data collected automatically by the system as part of library operations)InterviewsFocus groupsObservation, ethnographyExperimentOther research approachesHistorical researchContent analysisAction researchCase study
14Findings section Summary of data collected Statistical results Results that are close to the dataResults based closely on the dataStatistical resultsFigures and tables are used to support the main findings of the studyEach figure and table is referred to in the text, with a description of how to interpret it and what the salient information isIndicate whether the results are expected. Explanations of the results
15Discussion section Sometimes combined with Findings section Higher level research conclusions that address the research questionsMakes an argument using statistical results, research methods, results from previous literature, commonsense, etc.Relates the results of the current study to the literature
16Conclusion sectionRestates the research objectives/research questions, in an informal styleSummarizes the research results, highlighting interesting resultsPoints out contributions of the studyRelates the research results to previous literaturePoints out limitations & weaknesses of the studyMakes recommendations based on the research findingsSuggest future research directionsTo address weaknesses in the studyUnanswered questionsPerhaps the study has raised further questions
17Presentation of Information Try to keep in mind who the potential audience are (what they already know and what new information they need)Identify the specific focus that your analysis is aimed at (state the relationship in clear and unambiguous terms)Indicate the purpose of the section or paragraph at the beginning – why are you presenting this informationState your key messages up front and clearly (strip out the jargon)Focus on the implications of your analysis for the reader (downplay the methods and technical details)
18APA Guidelines for Manuscript Preparation Orderly presentation of ideas. Logical flow. Give the punchline at the beginningSmoothness of expression. Clear, logical writingEconomy of expression. Concise writingAvoid abbreviationsReference to the author:Use “I” rather then “we”, “the author”, “the experimenter”. Use “we” if there are more than one author
19APA Guidelines Don’t use “we” to refer to the readers and the author Bad: We usually classify bird song on the basis of frequency …Better: Researchers usually classify bird song on the basis of frequency …Alternatives: people, humans, researchers, psychologists …Avoid the generic “he” and gender biasUse gender neutral terms, e.g. person, individual, userUse plural: they, theirReplace pronoun (his) with article (the)“he or she” should be used sparinglyNot: he/she, (s)he, she
20APA Guidelines Use active voice Use past tense Numbers For numbers below 10, use wordsFor numbers 10 and above, use figures, except at the beginning of a sentenceUse figures for numbers before a unit of measure (e.g. 3 hr, 3 cm)Distinguish between different levels of headings, and do it consistentlyCapitalization of important words in section headings and journal titles: capitalize words of 4 letters or more
21Figures Put figure caption below the figure Refer to the figure no. in the text.The Siberian Tiger has black stripes (see Figure 1).The journal instructions to authors may require you to put all the tables and figures at the end of the manuscriptFigure 1. The Siberian Tiger
22Tables Useful for large amounts of numerical data Don’t use too many tables (combine small tables into 1 big table)Put table heading above the tableRefer to the table no. in the text, and point out important informationUse as few lines as possible in tables
23Tables Table 1. Example of poor table design Table 2. Example of good table design
24APA citation style Reference in the text In the text, use the author-date method to cite references :In 1994, Lancaster evaluated …Lancaster (1994) evaluated …In a recent evaluation (Lancaster, 1994) …Three studies (Bart, 1985; Frasier & Niles, 1996; Slocum, 1978) …Past research (Christie & Marsh, 1924; James, 1991a, 1991b) …
25APA citation style Citation format in the reference list Journal articleGay, L.S., & Croft, W.B. (1990). Interpreting nominal compounds for information retrieval. Information Processing & Management, 26(1),BookAsher, R.E. (Ed.). (1994). The encyclopedia of language and linguistics (2nd ed.). Oxford: Pergamon Press.Chapter in a bookFillmore, C.J. (1968). The case for case. In E. Bach & R.T. Harms (Eds.), Universals in linguistic theory (pp. 1-88). New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston.
26APA citation style Citation format in the reference list Paper in a conferenceMauldin, M.L. (1991). Retrieval performance in FERRET: A conceptual information retrieval system. In Proceedings of the 14th Annual International ACM/SIGIR Conference on Research and Development in Information Retrieval (pp ). New York: ACM Press.World Wide Web documentLangston, L. (1996). Scholarly communication and electronic publication: Implications for research, advancement and promotion. Retrieved August 31, 2002, fromDissertationChan, Y.H.J. (2002) A survey of Singapore family literacy. Unpublished master’s thesis, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.