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CSCI Research Methods HO 9 © Houman Younessi 2013 Lecture 9 Writing a Research Report Importance of publishing the findings of your research: “Publish or Perish” is an old saying in the academic circles. Its implication is that the primary motivation for academics to publish is to serve themselves; to save their own careers. Whilst the converse of this statement might be true that lack of publication does not serve the career of the average researcher or academic, in most cases there are higher motivations and responsibilities that results in the publishing research findings. We had previously discussed some of these motivations but in short, they are:
CSCI Research Methods HO 9 © Houman Younessi 2013 Lecture 9 Writing a Research Report 1.It is essential to share the results of our findings. Research costs money and those who supply the money must get something of value in return. 2.It is through research that the totality of the human body of knowledge increases. We must as “pampered” and “privileged” individuals in the society, and in the name of progress, discharge our obligations towards our kind. 3.Human knowledge belongs to all humanity, it must be shared and made available publicly.
CSCI Research Methods HO 9 © Houman Younessi 2013 Lecture 9 Writing a Research Report 4.Knowledge is the only commodity in the world that actually increases in value and extent only when shared. The researcher’s duty is to increase knowledge. 5.We must share our experiences with our colleagues to assist them in their quests. 6.We must expose our work to critique by those who can evaluate our work in terms of value, interest and accuracy. 7.We must publish so that we can give credit to those whose work has been instrumental in us arriving at our findings. 8.We must publish as researchers’ professional value can only be evaluated in terms of their output.
CSCI Research Methods HO 9 © Houman Younessi 2013 Lecture 9 Writing a Research Report Types of research articles: Research results may be published in many ways. These are some of the more traditional ones: 1.A journal article 2.A conference paper 3.An article in a trade or scholarly periodical 4.A thesis 5.A research report 6.A research monograph
CSCI Research Methods HO 9 © Houman Younessi 2013 Lecture 9 Writing a Research Report Journal papers: Each discipline has a number of “journals” where the findings in the discipline are published. These come in two general categories: 1.Peer reviewed 2.Non- peer-reviewed A peer-reviewed journal is one in which the articles submitted for publication are sent to a panel of expert “peers” in the discipline to read and evaluate the suitability of publication of the material presented. Only peer-reviewed publications are of significance as scientific research publication. We shall not discuss non-reviewed publications.
CSCI Research Methods HO 9 © Houman Younessi 2013 Lecture 9 Writing a Research Report Peer-reviewed journals: Reviewed journals again fall into two categories: 1.Archival journals 2.Non-archival journals Archival journals are those that are usually reviewed most stringently and usually only contain the “confirmed” and “principle” findings of the discipline. Those that establish or extend the foundation for the discipline. Non-archival journals publish those papers, that whilst important, report on the “newest”and most significant “current” developments in the field. Yet the work may need further qualification.
CSCI Research Methods HO 9 © Houman Younessi 2013 Lecture 9 Writing a Research Report The most prestigious and significant peer-reviewed journals usually do not have a page limit and allow the article to be as long as it is necessary for it to convey the message (within reason of course). This is particularly the case with archival journals. Archival journals are usually identified by the terms such as: Transactions on…., Annals of…., Archives of…, Non-archival journals usually are termed: Journal of…, ….. Journal, …… Today, Communications of the …,
CSCI Research Methods HO 9 © Houman Younessi 2013 Lecture 9 Writing a Research Report Conferences and conference papers: Almost every discipline also has a number of conferences associated with work in it. Conferences may be: 1.Commercially or trade oriented 2.Professionally/scholarly oriented, or 3.Research oriented. Commercially oriented conferences are really trade shows, we will not discuss them here.
CSCI Research Methods HO 9 © Houman Younessi 2013 Lecture 9 Writing a Research Report Professional/scholarly conferences provide opportunities for high level professionals and scholars in a given field to get together and exchange ideas, methods and techniques attend tutorials or to establish collaboration for the future or to “compare notes”. Usually a set of “proceedings” are published which contains the copies or abstracts (sometimes full text) of the various or all of the presentations. Whilst researchers might benefit from attending a number of these conferences, they are not where research or at least first hand research is discussed.
CSCI Research Methods HO 9 © Houman Younessi 2013 Lecture 9 Writing a Research Report Research oriented conferences are the venues where a dynamic discipline exposes the world to the research work-in-progress or emerging research directions. Research oriented conferences usually are in the form of a series of paper presentations by the researchers conducting the research or their close associates. These papers are usually peer-reviewed and although accommodation is usually made that the work is still in progress or that stringent validation may not have been performed on the results, nevertheless, effort is made that only robust and high quality work is presented. The reputation and the quality of a conference is only a function of the quality of the peer-review performed.
CSCI Research Methods HO 9 © Houman Younessi 2013 Lecture 9 Writing a Research Report Conference papers are usually limited in terms of page numbers allowed (usually a maximum of 5-8 pages) and the presentation slides used during the actual talk would not be published nor acceptable in lieu of a full-length paper. Each conference usually has its own styles, rules and requirements pertaining to how a paper is prepared, reviewed, published and presented. Of course all the rules of good writing style (to be discussed shortly) pertinent to journal papers also apply to conference papers.
CSCI Research Methods HO 9 © Houman Younessi 2013 Lecture 9 Writing a Research Report Articles in trade or scholarly periodicals: These articles have the same relationship to archival articles as do trade or professional conferences have to research conferences. This means that they are a venue for the publication of material that might be of value to the profession or the research community which may not be publishable in an archival or research journal. For example:
CSCI Research Methods HO 9 © Houman Younessi 2013 Lecture 9 Writing a Research Report 1.Material that is not original research but is an application of some current or established research which highlights a new issue or opens a question etc. 2.Material that proposes a research project of interest or a collaboration for a project. 3.A case study or an experience report 4.A revalidation of previous research 5.Scholarly (non-research) work of an eminent authority 6.Advice, methodologies, and advocations of eminent authorities.
CSCI Research Methods HO 9 © Houman Younessi 2013 Lecture 9 Writing a Research Report These articles are also of limited page extent and must conform to a strict set of style and publication rules. They are also stringently peer-reviewed (usually) and researchers are expected to contribute to this kind of publication as part of their publication history. Despite what might seem initially, this kind of publication is extremely important as it is usually through this avenue that results of theoretical research are transferred to a wider audience of not necessarily research oriented professionals in the discipline.
CSCI Research Methods HO 9 © Houman Younessi 2013 Lecture 9 Writing a Research Report Theses: In the centuries past, theses were the primary means of exchange of scholarly ideas. Scholars/researchers wrote a number of these, each dealing with the way they viewed a particular aspect of their work and thus reported not only their findings but also what they knew about the subject at hand. Principia Mathematica is one such thesis. In recent years the meaning of the word has somewhat changed and the role a thesis played previously is now played by another artifact called a research monogram. A thesis today is a major written work reporting on an identifiable piece of research conducted by a candidate for a higher degree.
CSCI Research Methods HO 9 © Houman Younessi 2013 Lecture 9 Writing a Research Report A thesis today, therefore, is a right of passage. It is an unabridged documented evidence that the candidate is capable of conducting independent research and of reporting its findings. Whilst a thesis is the usual requirement for PhD degrees, sometimes other lower degrees such as the MBA, JD, MD or DDS or at times some MSc or MA degrees also require a thesis. I also know that at least one BSc program also requires a full length thesis. Many require mini- theses. However, many non-doctoral “theses” are not necessarily research oriented or for the purpose of research training; at least in the sense of our discussion here.
CSCI Research Methods HO 9 © Houman Younessi 2013 Lecture 9 Writing a Research Report A research oriented thesis however is a valuable artifact. Theses are retained in the libraries of universities where they were submitted and are made available in full or abridged format as the original report of a research project. Although it is true that the thesis written by most researchers ends up NOT being their most significant contribution, it is NOT true that theses are not significant contributions. In fact many theses have become major pieces of research in a discipline. For example De Borglie’s thesis on particle wave theory won him the Nobel Prize Petri’s thesis on Petri nets and Lotfi-Zadeh’s thesis on Fuzzy logic are amongst the two greatest contributions of all times.
CSCI Research Methods HO 9 © Houman Younessi 2013 Lecture 9 Writing a Research Report Theses are largely free from page limitation. Mine was over 400 pages. They usually contain a wealth of background or general information (pertinent to the topic) and are extremely useful for quickly learning a lot about a given subject matter. They must contain a sizeable literature review and they must provide easy to follow evidence and description of the method used, data collected, controls placed, etc. As such well-written theses tend to be excellent sources of learning how to design and conduct research. Although a thesis is much longer and has different organization and is of a much greater detail than a journal paper and may describe a more extensive project, nevertheless the style of writing to follow is the same as a journal and therefore a well-written thesis is a good source for learning the style of research writing.
CSCI Research Methods HO 9 © Houman Younessi 2013 Lecture 9 Writing a Research Report Surprisingly, the sections (chapters) of a typical thesis may have the same titles (and contain in expanded form, the same material) as those of a journal paper. In general the following is a typical arrangement for a thesis: Chapter 1: Introduction Chapter 2: Scene setting/background Chapter 3: Literature review Chapter 4: The Hypothesis Chapter 5: Methodology and research design Chapter 6: Conduct Chapter 7: Results Chapter 8: Analysis Chapter 9: Findings and impact of work Chapter 10: Conclusion and future work
CSCI Research Methods HO 9 © Houman Younessi 2013 Lecture 9 Writing a Research Report Research Report: A research report is also a report written usually without a page number limitation or many other restrictions for the purpose of documenting and publishing research work where details of the work that are not otherwise available in the journal paper are required. A research report is usually shorter than a thesis but longer than a typical archival paper (approximately pages) and contains the details of the methodology, information on equipment, data collected in raw or semi-processed form, and any other piece of information needed to adequately understand or to reproduce the work.
CSCI Research Methods HO 9 © Houman Younessi 2013 Lecture 9 Writing a Research Report IT IS USUALLY A LOT EASIER TO WRITE THESES OR RESEARCH REPORTS THAN IT IS TO WRITE JOURNAL OR CONFERENCE PAPERS.
CSCI Research Methods HO 9 © Houman Younessi 2013 Lecture 9 Writing a Research Report A Research Monogram: A research monogram is a book written by the researcher and published by a publisher for the purpose of general sale. It is usually free from most stylistic and logistics limitations otherwise imposed on publications destined for journals or conferences.
CSCI Research Methods HO 9 © Houman Younessi 2013 Lecture 9 Writing a Research Report Structure of a research article: A research article (a journal paper, a conference paper, a research report or thesis) is written for the purpose of communicating the findings of research conducted, in a manner that is clear, easy to read and to use. This means that apart from the fact that the paper should be written in clear and understandable language, be well laid out and follow the style requirements of the publication, it should also follow a particular structure identified through years of experience writing and reading papers to be suitable. Such structure should be sufficiently concise but at the same time adequately detailed. It should contain both general discussion and specific treatment of the new material without confusing the reader. It
CSCI Research Methods HO 9 © Houman Younessi 2013 Lecture 9 Writing a Research Report should have predictable and suitable sections with the right headings and content organized in a logical and predictable order. In contrast to style, most journals do not dictate a particular structure. There are however default formats explicitly or implicitly for each journal and for many types of research reporting. Some disciplines even have their own recommended format for the structure of papers written. The format usually utilized for reporting the findings of an empirical scientific research project is reported on the next page:
CSCI Research Methods HO 9 © Houman Younessi 2013 Lecture 9 Writing a Research Report 1.Title page 2.Abstract 3.Introduction 4.Related work 5.Method 6.Results 7.Discussion 8.Conclusion 9.References 10.Appendices 11.Footnotes 12.Tables 13.Figures This is one popular format. Other variations exist
CSCI Research Methods HO 9 © Houman Younessi 2013 Lecture 9 Writing a Research Report The title page contains the title of the article, the list of authors, their affiliations, and a running head. A running head is a concise version of the title of the paper that is to appear on the header of each page of the paper when published in the journal. An abstract is a very much condensed summary of the paper. It should not exceed 150 words (some standards vary) and should contain all elements of the research report so it can adequately introduce the paper so that a potential future reader would be able to –by reading the abstract – decide whether the paper is going to be useful for his or her work or not.
CSCI Research Methods HO 9 © Houman Younessi 2013 Lecture 9 Writing a Research Report The “Introduction” section states the research problem in general terms and discusses what the research entails, why it should be done, how it would be done, how it would help, and what questions it would answer. Some formats include the “Related Work” section in the introduction. Under those circumstances, the introduction would also state whose work has been influential in this area in the past. Whose research we are extending, where did they left off and why is it necessary to extend the work. Also a mention sometimes made of work that is tangential to ours: work that is not directly related but is either similar and can shed light, or work that looks similar but is not - in which case a discussion is needed why this work is not related or included.
CSCI Research Methods HO 9 © Houman Younessi 2013 Lecture 9 Writing a Research Report The “Method” section contains the discussion of the approach taken to answer the research question discussed. It usually contains five sections: 1.Hypothesis (eses) 2.Measures 3.Subjects 4.Apparatus/set-up or environment 5.Procedures
CSCI Research Methods HO 9 © Houman Younessi 2013 Lecture 9 Writing a Research Report The “Results” section is to tell the reader what was found in the study. A statistical description of the result is usually needed as well as appropriate statistical tests. Here we must report all our findings in a concise manner (usually statistically). If any inferences are made in this section (intermediate inferences) then such inferences must also be reported clearly. Usually tables and figures are used in this section to illustrate the results in a concise manner. The “Discussion” section is where the researcher interprets and evaluates the results. The interpretation should logically follow from the presentation of the results. Otherwise the results section would need further adjustment.
CSCI Research Methods HO 9 © Houman Younessi 2013 Lecture 9 Writing a Research Report The “conclusion” section briefly restates the findings and relates them to the previous work. It also discusses any open questions or future research that might follow this work. The “References” section provides the reader with all the information needed to seek out and obtain all original sources used in the research. If the researcher has not sought out and obtained the paper himself (may be he or she was given a copy by an advisor or colleague), this is the time to seek out and ensure availability of all references. Make a physical print out of all on-line references that are likely to be more transient than your paper and keep them in order to supply copies upon request.
CSCI Research Methods HO 9 © Houman Younessi 2013 Lecture 9 Writing a Research Report Research writing style: Good writing is important. All the rules of clear writing provided in lecture 5 still apply. In addition, there are some stylistic conventions that are usually followed in research writing. Some of these are as follows: 1. Traditionally the research report is written in the past tense and primarily in the third person (e.g. “the investigator assigned each program to a….”).
CSCI Research Methods HO 9 © Houman Younessi 2013 Lecture 9 Writing a Research Report 2.Ensure the paper has page numbers starting with the title page as page 1. Page numbering must be in Indo-Arabic numbering system and follow through to the appendices and figures pages. No Roman numerals unless specifically required. 3.The title of the article should be concise and devoid of unnecessary verbiage. For example contrast: “A report on empirical findings contrasting software program defect content as a function of program size measured in a conventional program size measurement scheme”. and “Impact of program size on defect content”, and “Does size matter?” (which is going too far)
CSCI Research Methods HO 9 © Houman Younessi 2013 Lecture 9 Writing a Research Report 4.The running head should be even more concise (5-7 words max). 5.It is customary not to cite references in the abstract. 6.Descriptive statistics should precede inferential ones in the “Results” section. 7.Be your own fair but reasonable critique. If the paper has some weaknesses, discuss them openly and suggest ways how future studies might improve on the conditions. 8.Refer to your own previous work in the third person (e.g. “….Younessi and Grant (1995) suggest that….”
CSCI Research Methods HO 9 © Houman Younessi 2013 Lecture 9 Writing a Research Report 9.Use the correct verb to describe the nature of the work cited. For example: “Hardy and Ramanujan (1932) proved that…….”. Here Hardy and Ramanujan have mathematically proven a fact to which you are referring. “Hoare (1967) demonstrated that…..”. Here Hoare has shown logically that a fact follows from another but is short of proving it.
CSCI Research Methods HO 9 © Houman Younessi 2013 Lecture 9 Writing a Research Report “Elmer (1991) theorized (or showed) that…”. Here Elmer has put forth a theory which has been substantiated and validated probably empirically. “Lavalle (1988) suggested (or proposed) that…”. Here Lavalle is suggesting a fact or relationship with some support but short of empirical validation. “Smith (1983) argued that …….”. Here Smith is mounting an argument with some substantiation (may be a case study or an observation). “ Grant (1996) asserted that…..”. Here Grant is mounting an argument without or with inadequate justification.
CSCI Research Methods HO 9 © Houman Younessi 2013 Lecture 9 Writing a Research Report Author/publisher rights and responsibilities: A publication is also an agreement between the author/authors and a publishing organization. This creates a set of mutual rights and responsibilities between the two parties. Authors’ Responsibilities: The main responsibility of the author is to produce a work that is publishable, original and not published before (except when journals ask specifically to re-print a previously published work).
CSCI Research Methods HO 9 © Houman Younessi 2013 Lecture 9 Writing a Research Report Authors’ rights: The principle right of the author is the right of appeal if they disagree with the decision of a referee or reviewer. Each publication has a review and appeals policy published as part of their “authors’ information” package. The ultimate decision is usually with the Editor-in-Chief. The author usually has the right to give access to papers published to readers via his or her personal web-pages.
CSCI Research Methods HO 9 © Houman Younessi 2013 Lecture 9 Writing a Research Report Publishers’ responsibilities: It is the responsibility of the publisher to: Adequately distribute the material to be published Handle all the copyright permission requests and legal issues of breach of copyright. Distribute paper copy reprints upon request.
CSCI Research Methods HO 9 © Houman Younessi 2013 Lecture 9 Writing a Research Report Publisher’s rights: The publisher usually has the copyright to the material To select, appoint or change review and editorial panels.
CSCI Research Methods HO 9 © Houman Younessi 2013 Lecture 9 Writing a Research Report Evaluating a research article: A research article is usually evaluated by a panel of experts before it is accepted for publication. This process is called “The Peer Review Process”. The process entails the scrutiny of the paper by a number (usually 3 or larger) of eminent authorities or experts in the field. They would study the paper independently (and blind to each other and often to the name of the author) and independently write a report on the suitability of a paper proposed for publication. In doing so, they look for and view the paper from the perspectives – at least - of:
CSCI Research Methods HO 9 © Houman Younessi 2013 Lecture 9 Writing a Research Report 1.Technical robustness 2.Clarity 3.Style/language/presentation 4.Interest and relevance 5.Appropriateness for venue The reviewers usually rate the paper from each of these perspectives and even at times with respect to many attributes of each perspective. Most publications also ask the reviewer to provide an overall “acceptance” rating for each paper.
CSCI Research Methods HO 9 © Houman Younessi 2013 Lecture 9 Writing a Research Report These ratings are usually: 1.Accept without any modifications 2.Accept with minor stylistic modifications to the satisfaction of the editor 3.Accept with minor structural or technical modifications as advised 4.Accept after modifications sought have been reviewed 5.Reject out-right
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