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Essentials of Academic Writing - Part 2

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Now, in this lecture we are going to discuss papers, I mean scholarly articles and then we shall see how different academic writers though appearing to be made of the same mold have some sort of differences or the other. Now we can have a look at research paper, whether you are in the field of academia or you are doing some amount of research in the field of science and technology or in some other fields. You always come across some amount of research, which you really want to present to the outside world. Now, you might be thinking is a research paper different from a conference paper. I think both of them are researched, but then while in conference papers, you came to know that they were read out they were the spoken form of the written paper. Now, here we shall be talking about the various limitations of the written paper. Let us have a sort of working definition for research paper. A research paper is a specialized form of expository writing. An expository essay was an essay, which actually had to be explained. In the same manner a research paper is a specialized form of expository writing, in which a writer attempts to add, attempts to add to the accumulation of the world’s scholarship. You have already participated in several conferences, you have presented your views, your views have been argued well by yourself also have been shared with others. Now, you are going to give it the form of our research paper. So, the main aim of research paper is to share your knowledge by making some definite statement you have after a lot of research, and discovery, and claims that you have made, you have based upon a careful study of already existing data. Whenever somebody does a research, what he or she does he actually adds to the existing data, the existing information the existing knowledge or ideas on a particular topic. One cannot do research on every topic on everything, but then one in the course of one’s career actually comes across developing or specializing himself or herself in a specific area. And, then when he goes to write a research paper he decides as we have said in the previous lecture, decides the research gaps and then tries to put in his views with some evidences and claims. Now, what actually and how is a research paper written? Now, as I said all of us write all of us also do some amount of research. So, when you are doing some amount of research you are actually in the driver’s seat. And, then when you are going to do some amount of research, there are 4 things that you come across and there are 4 opportunities you come across. What are these, Rowena Murray and Sarah Moore in their book the handbook of academic writing says that there are 4 writing drivers. I mean for writing drivers I mean for writing impulses. Something that drives you, something that propels you to writing what is that? The very first is interactivity and dialogue, interactivity and dialogue, then knowledge creation and extension, achievement output and approval and then flow. Through your writing, through your research paper, you are actually going to share your research with a wider audience, with many people, whether you go to a conference to attend the conference and present a paper or you are writing a research paper. Now, your writing is read by so, many people you do not know, but then you are going to interact with them, you are going to have a sort of discourse with experts in your area, in your field. And, how do you do that you come across somebody’s ideas? You actually think over their ideas, you contradict with their ideas, and then sometimes you also compare your idea and then you also try to take something out of that which you call your research. So, you have larger scope of interactivity, interaction and dialogue. And, that way you are adding to knowledge creation and extension. The world is happy because of research; something new is being added every now and then. Remember today you are listening to my lecture being in any part of the country and that is possible also only because of research. And, in earlier days we used to simply read the books, read the papers, but now even without having a book or even without looking at the person and on most of the occasions you are also looking at me, we are we are maybe I am not looking at you, but you are looking at. So, this has been possible only because of research. Something some knowledge, no knowledge can stop knowledge is always in the process, every day process of getting some new addition some new accumulation. And, that is why, when somebody does a research, what he or she does is he actually creates some more knowledge and extends his knowledge. In psychology we say when we do something real and we get some approval, we get some appreciation, we have a sense of achievement. When a writer writes a book and his book is being read appreciated, debated, discussed, analyzed, reviewed, he actually feels a sense of satisfaction. So, satisfaction is a driving force it is an impulse and after that satisfaction, you actually get a sort of output and approval. Maybe some other people will extend their research based on what you have done maybe they are going to carry it further. And, then when you continue to write, you get a sense of achievement, when you get some output, when you are being talked about what happens, you actually get a sort of flow. By this flow I mean, you actually develop a sort of expertise, you feel a sort of ease when you write and this is generates from the satisfaction which you have got after your writing. So, a research paper is a contribution to the world of knowledge and it is an addition to the accumulation of worlds scholarship, you are here, you have contributed a paper maybe your paper is being read by somebody in some corner of the world and a new research is also going to take shape after the extension of your paper. And, for all this you have to begin as I said in the previous lecture, that initially all of us get very anxious, all of us do not want to write. Many of us as many people say do not want to write, because the thing that nobody will read their research, nobody will read their writing. It is not that they do not have to say anything; everyone has got to say something or the other. But, then it is actually the lack of initiation, the lack of that drive, the lack of that driving impulse. So, let us begin and how to begin? Whenever somebody starts to write the very first thing I mean he begins with is an abstract. He the instruct of a paper I mean conference paper and the abstract of a research paper not the same, they are very similar my dear friends, but then the abstract of your research paper before writing the abstract, I assume that you have already done a lot of research, a lot of literature survey. So, abstract actually helps you identifying the field of study. You are going to put yourself or you are going to make yourself expert or specialize in some area, where you have to say something or the other. So, first is you identify the field of your study, when you have identified. The next task before you is to approach, what sort of approach, what sort of study? Is your study simply going to be textual, is your study going to be theoretical, is your study going to be historical, is it empirical, I mean whatever way you are going to approach, is it based on a model or it is it based on a sort of experiment. So, this you have to decide. And, then when you have come across so, many abstracts and so, many papers in the database, then you come to have the gaps as to where you can situate yourself. And, having understood the gaps, then you are ready with the work plan. Now, once you are ready with the work plan, you should choose a topic. Earlier also I have said that, there can be different categories of titles, there can be different categories as to how to begin and what sort of title to give? Sometimes you get it in the form of an assignment sometimes you get the topic, but say to it that the topic has to be made intriguing. Now, what do I mean by intriguing? If, the topic is very plain naturally people would not take interest in it that is why the topic has to be made intriguing initially. You had a broad topic and since you are going to now work in a particular area and on a particular topic, what you do is you are going to narrow it down. If, you have a look at several titles you will find that in several disciplines the way people from the broad they make their topic narrow. Otherwise you know there are vast amount of knowledge available. And, since it is going to be a research which is specific you have to narrow it down. Once you narrow down your topic, then naturally you will go for the available resources, specific resources, specific resources can be your primary data, your secondary data, primary data, may be in the form of books, secondary data may be in the form of journal articles, may be in the form of conference proceedings, may be in the form of electronic data. Nowadays, you will find even the electronic version of PhD thesis are also available. So, all these are helpful to you when you are going to extend the topic of your research and you are going to make something new make something innovative, in order to contribute something new to the world of knowledge. So, now, what to do the title is already there, even from the title, you have written the abstract now make a thesis statement. In the previous lectures, you have already come to know what exactly is meant by a thesis statement, this thesis statement actually tells you what you are going to do, what is the objective of this research paper, most of the time many people are not clear about the objective of their writing about the objective of their paper. So, first find the thesis statement and while finding the thesis statement, one actually comes across, when one goes to make a search from the data, from the resources, from the library, from several sources what one has to do is one has to make a note this note. So, make notes, but when you have made notes please give a some headings and subheadings to your notes. If, you are making note of some quotations please see to it, that you have also mentioned the name of the author the name of the book, the name of the page, numbers from where you have taken, because you do not have too much time at your disposal to arrange it leisurely. And, then after you have completed your note making, you are supposed to create a sort of outline. This outline from time to time and based on this outline you are going to write. So, this outline is a reminder, it will tell you at times as to which portion should have gone to which head, which section, which segment. So, please follow that and then finally, organize and once it is organized start writing now making use of FDR technique, which many researchers have given this FDR technique is facts discussion and recommendation. Many people also suggest that one should do a sort of Imrad. Now, what is this IMRAD? IMRAD is actually introduction method, introduction method and then introduction method, then analysis and then discussion. So, when you have done all that and recommendation as well? So, whatever way you want you should follow your research writing. Next to it comes giving safe, how can you give safe to your research writing or a research paper? Research papers are also like other forms of academic writing, they are much like expository essays where you are going to explain and in terms of giving explanation, if you find there are something to be evidenced, you support that and when you have written it, when you have finally, made your research article. See to it that you have sufficient time and sufficient space and sufficient division for everything. Namely, every research article will also have three things introduction body and conclusion. In the introduction as we have been saying, we just pair only 10 percent of your entire content in introduction; you already know what an introduction should contain? An introduction should have background, an introduction should have scope and limitation, an introduction should also talk about, why you are doing this research and an introduction’s to talk about the methodology, it should also talk about the limitations and then it will also talk about how your research has been divided and subdivided? Based on, because in the body part you are going to make discussion, discussion is actually the heart of your entire research paper or your thesis and then finally, the conclusion. Introductions would simply have thesis, because in the introduction you are going to create a sort of background and you are making a sort of orientation, you are actually preparing your readers are to know how you have started and what is your plan and action? Please, see to it that you should not argue too much in introduction. For argument there is enough time and enough space in discussion part. Having analyzed everything, having discussed everything, now is the time that you are going to conclude. Now, what will be the conclusion? Conclusion can be said as to be the findings of the entire research paper, findings. Naturally, the conclusion will have to be very sort no the discussion part may be large, but the conclusion part will be very specific in certain cases people also say, that no new material should there be in conclusion. Even many scholars have gone to the extent of saying that in introduction, please do not give too much of paraphrases and quotations. Now, one question you might be thinking of because your research is not only based on what you say, rather they are supported by some evidences and by some reasons, which you have got from other authors from other researchers where to give them. Actually, for that either while you are writing your paper, you can make an in text citation, in text citation, while you are supporting sometimes you are providing some graphs some charts, sometimes you are providing some data, sometimes you are providing some quotation. Now, all these when you are providing in the text of your material see it, because you know this has to be acknowledged after your paper is complete in the form of references or in the form of Biblio. When you are going to discuss, what are the things that should have been in the discussion part of your research. Discussion is actually a systematic analysis, it is a systematic analysis I mean 1 to 1 by 1. So, that you are keeping the interest of the reader or other researchers intact. So, it is systematic explanation and it is divided, because if you put everything without division and subdivision the receivers will feel a sort of frustration, they will feel that the material is too complex. So, what needs to be done is they actually need to be segregated with topics and subtopics. And, all these when there are certain claims to be made either you are going to contradict or you are going to support or your claims are being supported. So, you should support them by evidence and you should introduce, I mean you are the writer. So, you actually have got the main role or the prominent role. So, introduce your points, but while introducing your line of thinking say to it, that quotations and paragraphs in the texts are mentioned, but you are identifying the author, that is why while reading a research paper you will find, that the author when the you are taking a sort quotation are they are mentioned in the text. But, sometimes the quotations are long; sometimes the quotations are longer than 2 or 3 sentences. In that condition what wants to do is one should actually indent them please, say to it that you can make use of if you are word processing make use of tab button fine and that is how you can flush them or indent them, quote over 3 lines have to be indented. So, that they appear to be different. And, and your task does not come to an end only by indenting it here, but say to it that you are going also to acknowledge it in the Biblio or in the reference part. Because, nowadays one has to be very careful, that whatever one writes and if one has taken help of some other materials on this topic the author has to be identified or acknowledged. Otherwise, it may land you into trouble people may say that you have plagiarized. So, it is always better to acknowledge other writers, if you have taken a note of that. Now, here is one example that can be provided and since here I am talking about quoting some lines of the poem fine. The horrendous reality of an age, but of all ages despite the chaos and confusion prevailing around, the poets long for the freedom waiting in the form of spiritual transformation and regeneration and then he makes a quote from it says poem. In the same way when you are quoting it in the text please see that you are not only mentioning the actual lines, but you are also going to acknowledge it in the Biblio section. And, here in text depending upon the space and the frequency as well as the order here the writer author has mentioned that it is the fifth quote in this article. So, if you do like this you are being honest and your claims are going to be supported. Next after having written a paper, I mean many people might be thinking, because here we cannot give a complete description of an entire research paper otherwise it will take some more time like, you write a conference paper, a research paper also can be written in the same manner, but the basic difference between the two is whereas, a conference paper is to be read, research paper is to be published. When you have written a research paper now think of the possible journals where you are going to send. Nowadays, you might be quite conscious and you should be warned that you are going to publish in good journals, because in many organizations, there have been certain guidelines as to which journal you should send your paper. So, see the indexing and all and then think off when you are going to submit a paper and you are in the glory that the paper will be accepted no. Please see to it that you also try to understand the limitations, the team, the volume and as well as the expectations of the journal and depending upon that you can send a paper. Now, we come to a very specific academic writing that is writing a thesis. And, you might be thinking that, if somebody has done a PhD one can write a good paper. In most of the universities what happen is the students are exposed to write a thesis before they are going to write an article or a scholarly article. So, now what happens a thesis writing is also similar to an academic article. So, if somebody has practiced writing an article in many universities they say that during their PhD also students are supposed to write scholarly articles. So, now, they might be having this experience of writing scholarly articles and these scholarly articles can also be converted into scholarly thesis, but then depends upon what are their titles, what are their subjects, what is their discipline it varies actually from one discipline are to another. But, then a thesis writing is similar to academic article, when somebody writes a thesis? Maybe somebody is not that mature, somebody is not that skilled, because thesis writing is very exhaustive. And, a person and somebody a writer who is writing a thesis, actually looks at it actually becomes very subjective, but when somebody writes a research paper he has to be very focused. And, then the writing of the thesis varies within different disciplines. So, you have to understand, which discipline, you are writing what are the limitations in some organizations they also provide you a guideline as to how to write a thesis and what are the documentation parts and all and then in most of the countries of the world arts and social sciences thesis actually emphasize on arguments. You will find when you are doing a thesis on literature or say humanities on social sciences. So, there is more of argumentation, but when you are doing something on in science and in engineering, it is based more on experimentation. So, it may vary, but ultimately the objective behind writing a thesis and writing an article is also to make people aware of your views, your thesis has not got. So, many readers, but your articles will get more readers are they actually have more scope of expansion, they actually have more scope of being read by people. Of course, with the introduction of technology and with the introduction of various facilities all around the world, Thesis also have been in the form of electronic or digital form where people can know about your work. But, still are there are certain limitations. Now, when you are going to write a thesis, this is writing is a complex process in most countries of the world you are given 2 or 3 years or depending upon the subject and the exigency of the situation sometimes time may exceed, within it is always better, because you as a researcher or as a writer you have already made a literature survey, but here in this case you must also examine some thesis which you can find in your library or in the database. In order to have an experience of how the language of thesis is a different and then whenever you start literature survey as I have been telling please keep writing right from the beginning. Writing in the form of note making, because a thesis writing is not one day affair, you cannot write it just as spontaneously it actually requires a lot of labor. And, your labor is going to be rewarded only after through 2 or 3 years, but when you are doing some amount of research in a particular field it is always advisable to discuss your work with people of your discipline. May be now why I say this is you may sometimes not be aware of what is happening? And, maybe some of your colleagues or some of your friends might have already come across that. So, they will suggest you either to visit a particular library or visit or to read a particular paper. Sometimes, so, supervisors who are the best guides, they can also tell you, but the question is how long you are in association with your supervisor? Please, always see to it that whatever you write in the form of your thesis or whatever materials you have gathered, say to it that they are stored in at several places. Always keep backups, because you never know when technology sometimes fails or your written material may have some sorts of misfortune or whatsoever. So, it is always suggested that one should have several backups. And, please interact with your supervisor continuously, at times if you feel you can also give small discussions to your small group of friends or to the small group and that is one way, because when somebody is going to do a thesis one should always go 2 specific conferences, where the conferences of the discipline are going on and they get an opportunity not only to interact, but to know the updates. That will actually make your work become better and you can also include them in your research work. There are certain important tips that one should always keep in mind whether one is writing a research paper, or a conference paper, or one is writing a thesis. As, I have already said a thesis is very much focused and it is confined to a specific segment, but then a research paper gets wider audience. So, it is always better to be aware of readers, keep your readers always in mind as regards language. Languages may vary depending upon the different disciplines, but see to it when you are writing a thesis though people always say that one should be aware of making use of excessive Jargons, but in some particular area when your work is to be read simply by people of those areas. The Jargons do not pose that much of difficulty, but then it is always suggested that one should use a simple, but standard language and a proper sequencing and occurrence has to be made, whatever way you are writing, whatever form you are writing and one suggestion that is quite mandatory are to be kept in mind is please see that, you avoid negatives and too many abbreviations. It has been seen that at times many abbreviations can make your things very complicated, because your readers may not be having the clue of all those abbreviations. If, you have used too many abbreviations first is that you should not use too many abbreviations, but if you have used too many abbreviations it is always better that you attach or you include a separate page, where you have explained all these abbreviations. And, in order to make your writing, interesting and in order to make your writing interactive please vary the sentence length. Not all the sentences should be long, not all the sentences should be solved, not all the sentences should be too complicated, not all the words or the vocabulary should be very of high order or of a complicated nature. So, sentence length has to be varied and your work from time to time have to be shared with experts in your field. One thing which is very important at this juncture is to know, that you have done everything all pieces of writing with it is conference paper, research paper, book review or thesis, please remember to read and revise. Since, you have done it, it is always better, that you read it yourself and you revise. Because no work can become perfect just in one reading and one revision, you have shared sometimes you know you have attended a conference and you come back and you come to know that something new has been done. And, if you feel that they are in some way or the other going to support your work you can make a mention of it, that is why and revision is very important not only from the point of view of language, but also from point of view of analysis. You may at times feel that, certain words have to be deleted, certain negatives have to be converted into positives, certain references are not in the proper format. So, all these are quite mandatory when you are going to write. Now, there are certain tips which one should always keep in mind because many people who have got a writer’s block. Now, what is this writer blocks? Whether one is having a lot of ideas, one is having a lot of scholarship, one simply thinks that one cannot write unless and until writing is rewarding. You have an experience, you have an imagination, you have come across some factual piece of information, where and you have come to know certain gaps, you should write it instantly because at times it. Because, you know if you simply delay by procrastination I mean delay, if you delay something you know this delay keeps on getting delayed. And, there comes the day when you feel that the work becomes quite difficult you know it becomes very cumbersome. So, and to the mercies of a moment leaves the vast concern of an eternal scene, if you really want to make your patience felt as I have said I really want to be appreciated you have to continue to write. And, in order to write, first is that you need to have a literature review and you need to understand why you are writing as I said. One has to write not only that one wants to be satisfied; one also has to write because one has to share his knowledge with the outside world. There are certain things which are very important and which I need to mention here, keep structuring your writing every day write. Even small pieces of things write every day, continue to write every day, avoid distractions sometimes or the other you feel distracted there are. So, many things that keep you distract some people are often BG gossiping some people spend a lot of time in socializing, but as a researcher you know you have to keep yourself some way or the other some limitations. No one can be perfect in one day and do not think that you will be a perfectionist. One has to keep on writing every day or the other so, avoid being a perfectionist, limit your social interruptions there is no need to cut yourself completely aloof, or make yourself completely distanced, but then realize what you are up to and then when you have done all sorts of writing please read and revise your writing in order that. If, something has been left you are going to fill that if something is excessive you are to cut that short, because you are writing not simply for yourself for your satisfaction, but you are actually going to write for the satisfaction of others. My dear friends, as I have already said that academic writing has got certain limitations, because they are based not only on facts, they are also based on experiences, they are based on findings. Now, where do you stand that you can yourself feel, but depending upon your own preferences and your own presence in the world I think you will decide, that you have to write every day, you have to contribute to the knowledge. Because, your contribution to the knowledge if may not be felt today it will be felt tomorrow, that is why we have been reading quite a good number of authors even today even in an age, where we have become digital yet the writings of all those people, the researches of all these people have been helpful and they have contributing a lot to the mankind. And, have been pulling mankind from the tunnels of darkness to the beautiful sunshine, where everything is possible because the world goes on doing research every now and then and is ready to provide us all things that can provide and that can lend us joy and satisfaction. So, my difference this with this we come to the end of this lecture and I thank you all for being patiently listening to these lectures, and I think you will apply these in the days to come to make your appearance and your presence felt in the world of academia.