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Dissertation Briefing. What is research in a nutshell? A sustained activity for the purpose of finding answers to questions Is it a worthwhile question.

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Presentation on theme: "Dissertation Briefing. What is research in a nutshell? A sustained activity for the purpose of finding answers to questions Is it a worthwhile question."— Presentation transcript:

1 Dissertation Briefing

2 What is research in a nutshell? A sustained activity for the purpose of finding answers to questions Is it a worthwhile question (so what?) -- … A planned, systematic investigation but to what purpose? So that the answer is as valid and reliable as possibly Control for potential sources of error (bias) Eliminate alternative explanations/answers Examine the theoretical basis for drawing the conclusion The answer is generalizable but to what context Assumptions and theoretical basis of the study are examined Builds on previous work Limitations of the study are examined

3 Different Research Approaches NatureFocusedHolistic Known variablesUnknown variables Predetermined methodsEmergent methods Context freeContext bound Detached view Personal view PurposeTo explain & predictTo describe & explain To confirm & validateTo explore & interpret To test theoryTo build theory DataNumericTextual/image-based Representative (large) Informative (small) Standard instruments Loosely structured QuantitativeQualitative

4 Structure of a Research Report Abstract Introduction Literature review Research method Findings Discussion Conclusion References Appendices

5 Abstract A summary of the report Usually does not exceed 1 page (double-spaced) Emphasis placed on objectives of study, methodology, significant findings, and recommendations Usually written upon completion of the entire report Informative vs. indicative abstract Indicative abstract: gives an indication of what information can be found in the paper Informative abstract: includes a summary of the research results/findings

6 Research proposal Introduction section Background: Context (local & international), subject area of your study, perspective from which the topic is addressed Problem statement: what’s the problem and why is it important to study it Research objectives The research objectives are 1.to find out … The research questions are 1.What 2.Why 3.How Explain, clarify the research objectives Specify the scope of the study Briefly state the data collection method

7 Literature review Overview of lit review Previous studies and their results Your critique of previous studies How your current study fits in the literature

8 What is a literature review? Summary of previous papers/studies  With a purpose/message  To show the relation between your study & previous studies  To 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)

9 Other purposes of a literature review  To define and explain important concepts  To give an overview of the topic and provide background information  To identify/synthesize a theory or model that will be used to explain the results of your study  To generate hypotheses to be confirmed or refuted in your study  To carry out a meta-analysis: to analyze the results of several studies to arrive at a more authoritative conclusion  To demonstrate your breadth/depth of knowledge  Etc.

10 Typical problems  Summary of 1 paper after another. No organization of information  No relation to current study  No critique of previous studies, no evaluation of the results of previous studies  Missing important information  Inaccuracy. Misquote or misuse of information. Information taken out of context  Plagiarism  No proper citation  No paraphrase (cut & paste)  Poor language & style

11 Beware of plagiarism  2 levels of intellectual property  Ideas and content  Expression and language  Provide citation for other people’s ideas  In addition, use quotation marks around passages used verbatim (cut and paste)  Avoid cut and paste  Read article & paraphrase from memory  Check the paraphrase for accuracy and that it’s not an exact copy

12 Research method section  How are you going to collect data (data collection) in a way that will address the research questions  How 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?

13 Frequently used data collection methods Questionnaire survey Operational data (data collected automatically by the system as part of library operations) Interviews Focus groups Observation, ethnography Experiment Other research approaches Historical research Content analysis Action research Case study

14 Findings section Summary of data collected Results that are close to the data Results based closely on the data Statistical results Figures and tables are used to support the main findings of the study Each figure and table is referred to in the text, with a description of how to interpret it and what the salient information is Indicate whether the results are expected. Explanations of the results

15 Discussion section Sometimes combined with Findings section Higher level research conclusions that address the research questions Makes an argument using statistical results, research methods, results from previous literature, commonsense, etc. Relates the results of the current study to the literature

16 Conclusion section Restates the research objectives/research questions, in an informal style Summarizes the research results, highlighting interesting results Points out contributions of the study Relates the research results to previous literature Points out limitations & weaknesses of the study Makes recommendations based on the research findings Suggest future research directions To address weaknesses in the study Unanswered questions Perhaps the study has raised further questions

17 Presentation 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 information State 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)

18 APA Guidelines for Manuscript Preparation Orderly presentation of ideas. Logical flow. Give the punchline at the beginning Smoothness of expression. Clear, logical writing Economy of expression. Concise writing Avoid abbreviations Reference to the author: Use “I” rather then “we”, “the author”, “the experimenter”. Use “we” if there are more than one author

19 APA 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 bias Use gender neutral terms, e.g. person, individual, user Use plural: they, their Replace pronoun (his) with article (the) “he or she” should be used sparingly Not: he/she, (s)he, she

20 APA Guidelines Use active voice Use past tense Numbers For numbers below 10, use words For numbers 10 and above, use figures, except at the beginning of a sentence Use figures for numbers before a unit of measure (e.g. 3 hr, 3 cm) Distinguish between different levels of headings, and do it consistently Capitalization of important words in section headings and journal titles: capitalize words of 4 letters or more

21 Figures 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 manuscript Figure 1. The Siberian Tiger

22 Tables 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 table Refer to the table no. in the text, and point out important information Use as few lines as possible in tables

23 Tables Table 1. Example of poor table design Table 2. Example of good table design

24 APA 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) …

25 APA citation style Citation format in the reference list Journal article Gay, L.S., & Croft, W.B. (1990). Interpreting nominal compounds for information retrieval. Information Processing & Management, 26(1), Book Asher, R.E. (Ed.). (1994). The encyclopedia of language and linguistics (2nd ed.). Oxford: Pergamon Press. Chapter in a book Fillmore, 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.

26 APA citation style Citation format in the reference list Paper in a conference Mauldin, 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 document Langston, L. (1996). Scholarly communication and electronic publication: Implications for research, advancement and promotion. Retrieved August 31, 2002, from Dissertation Chan, Y.H.J. (2002) A survey of Singapore family literacy. Unpublished master’s thesis, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.


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