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Saturday, October 23, 2010

MPhil General Research Methodology 19 Oct 2010 - Academic Writing Classnotes

Notes by Sreyashi Dhar, MPhil. English Studies. 

In the fourth session of academic writing the following areas were touched upon and discussed in detail.

1) Chapters
2) Timeline/Duration of Proposal
3) Writing Titles
4) Visual Structure of the Dissertation
5) Collaborative Writing
6) Synopsis
These class discussions have been provided in detail in the following paragraphs.

Literature review is the second chapter of the dissertation. Literature review is the chapter which needs to be written first and introduction is to be written last. Second, if it is a quantitative study, one needs to work on Research Design and Methodology chapter. Then one needs to deal with the Analysis and then the Conclusion chapter. One should keep working on the Bibliography from the very beginning. Never think that you will be able to do it at last.
Whenever you read any book for your dissertation, immediately take down the name of the author, title of the work (including the subtitle), place of publication, publisher, year of publication and page no(s). Third page of any book is the publisher’s information page.
If it is a journal, you need to even take down the volume and issue nos. Cutting-edge journals have not more than three issues in a year.
In case of online journals, you need to take down the date of access. This is because of two reasons. Firstly, in case of online information, the data can always change. Secondly, sometimes your mentioned date will help someone to access previous date’s data. E.g. Google dox backup date or wikipedia entries.

Timeline/duration of the proposal:
Time is provided to the scholars for data collection, analysis and writing. In a qualitative dissertation, primarily its textual analysis, so one needs time to think, and then only one can start writing.

While writing titles, few things need to be kept in mind.
  1. Area of study----E. g., if the major area is psychology, one needs to specify whether its child psychology or developmental psychology or social psychology and so on.
  2. The key elements--- main focus in your research.
  3. Methodology/Approach
(The above mentioned guidelines are mostly for quantitative research)
Conceptual Shift: What is your research on/ problem of your research. This angle is in regard to qualitative research. The title should contain the key words. Type the key elements in the research. If you are using one particular theorist, then his/her name should appear in the title.
E.g.1) “Freud, Return to Freud and the Feminist Turn”. Here turn denotes deconstruction. Post-structuralism has turns, not shifts. ‘Return to Freud’ here indicates Jacques Lacan, who revisited Freud in his psychoanalytic study.
Your titles need to sound these things.
2) “Masks of Conquest: Literary Study and British Rule in India ”. This title is given by Gauri Vishwanathan for her published PhD work.
It is important to state the problem in your title.
We can even coin new words and concepts. E.g. Lacan’s gaze concept, orientalism as a concept. Many times one’s entire academic word is just one word, but that’s a big deal.
Marx’s concept is ‘labour’, Freud’s concept is ‘unconscious’, Derrida’s concept is ‘turn’, Jung’s concept is ‘archetype’ and so on.

Visual Structure of the Dissertation:
Politics and Censorship in Persian Translation: A Study
(Bold 18-22, you can choose between these font size, font type, Times New Roman. This is for the cover page of your dissertation

(Details of this are put up on Mr. Pinto’s blog. Please refer to it.)

CHAPTER II (Capital letters and bold)
Next line: small letters and bold (font times new roman,12)
Double space between lines.
First paragraph of a chapter begins at the margin.
Either you give a tab for the next paragraph, or you give an extra line space and start at the margin.

Books for writing style:
Law: Blue Book
English: MLA Handbook, 7th ed.
Sociology, Social Work, Education: APA (2009)
Harvard style: business schools
Chicago style
All these styles have come from the US.
You need to print your dissertation in Executive Bond or A4 size paper.
Page nos.- Insert page no- options
All punctuation marks matter a lot.
Double quotes should be used when you are quoting someone exactly.
Single quote should be used to quote a special concept. Don’t do it repeatedly. Do not transfer your spoken English into academic writing.

Collaborative Writing:
When more than one person writes a work then it is called collaborative writing. You cannot do it in your dissertation because it is considered unethical. It is very necessary that analysis, and interpretation and report are written by you.
Someone/ guide gives dimension to your ideas, so he/she is the second author of your work. But the person who really wrote it is the first author. He/she needs to be given the first credit.
Collaborative writing has taken new turn because of internet. Different people are writing on the same page at the same time. Social sciences have to take this route in the future. Ideas are emerging only through collaborative work. There is collaboration of different disciplines.
You can create a document and use the button ‘share’ in Gmail.

Summary or gist is synopsis. It has multiple standards and multiple vocabularies.
Proposal= Synopsys.
Synopsys is what you give your guide after first draft of the dissertation. This is to find out whether you can go ahead with your final draft or not. It is a 2 page write-up (summary) of your entire dissertation.
Synopsys can be just the title and then complete two pages of text. It might not have any headings. A lot of IITs demand synopsis (1000-4000 words) after your dissertations. You can’t quote from your dissertation or lift from your dissertation in it.
Proposal format holds good for synopsis format too. 

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