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Research Methodology Notes

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  • RESEARCH METHODOLOGY UANP 0013 SECTION 07/08

    TOPIC 4

    1

  • Table of Contents

    Results and Discussion Publish WriIng Report Assignment 6

  • 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:

  • 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.

  • 4. Knowledge is the only commodity in the world that actually increases in value and extent only when shared. The researchers 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.

  • 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

  • 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.

  • 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 newestand most significant current developments in the field. Yet the work may need further qualification.

  • 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 ,

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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:

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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 Borglies thesis on particle wave theory won him the Nobel Prize

    Petris thesis on Petri nets and Lotfi-Zadehs thesis on Fuzzy logic are amongst the two greatest contributions of all times.

  • Theses are largely free from page limitation. It can be over 200 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 ex