All posts by Regoniel, Patrick A.

Dr. Patrick A. Regoniel is a graduate school professor of research, statistics, and environmental science at the Palawan State University. He has helped many graduate students complete their theses or dissertations by providing research and statistical advice and services since 1991. A Ph.D. in Environmental Science graduate of the University of the Philippines Los Baños in 2004, Dr. Regoniel is a member of the Gamma Delta Sigma Honor Society of Agriculture. He currently serves as Vice President for Research & Extension at the Palawan State University.

Three Tips on How to Write a Thesis Statement

Are you looking for information on how to write a thesis statement? Writing the thesis statement should be effortless if you are equipped with a good knowledge of your research topic. If not, then read on. Here are three tips on how to write a thesis statement. 

Before going to the steps on how to write your thesis statement, I see it necessary to define first what a thesis statement means. A thesis statement is your proposed answer or argument concerning a given problem situation or question that needs resolution. It is your explanation of how or why a phenomenon occurs based on the limited evidence that you have observed or gathered. You are advancing a thesis to convince others that your explanation is plausible or reasonable. Thus, you need to design a research to provide evidence to central argument of your research paper. That thesis may be uniquely yours, or somebody may have thought about the same explanation. Thus, you need to undertake the following steps to ensure that your thesis is an original one.

Three Tips on How to Write a Thesis Statement

Here are the steps to follow if you have difficulty in writing your thesis statement.

Step 1. Identify your research topic

If you do not have a clear research topic in mind then you have no basis in writing your thesis statement. You may freely select your topic but if you are under some kind of funding, the agency sponsoring your work may have specific recommended topics for you to do research on. You must also mind your university’s research agenda, as there are recommended topics based on current trends and known needs of society. The United Nation’s 17-point Sustainable Development Goals is a good starting point on what research areas to explore. Select a research area relevant to your field of specialization and narrow it down to manageable bits.

For example, we will use community adaptation to climate change as our long-tail keyword. Long tail keywords are those three to four keyword phrases which are very specific to whatever you are interested in.

Step 2. Review the literature

Once you are ready with your research topic, you need to see if it is feasible enough to do research on. It is not easy to discern if indeed your topic is worth pursuing until you have done a good review of literature.

Contemporary researchers are fortunate because they can now access a vast source of scientific literature in the internet. The easy one most familiar to me is Google Scholar which I learned to use just a few months back. Before, I was using the Directory of Open Access Journal (DOAJ) but I had the impression that available literature in the site is limited compared to what I acquire from Google Scholar.

As a beginner, the literature available in Google Scholar serves the purpose. You can just type your keyword and in an instant, assuming a good internet connection, a list of articles is displayed just like when you surf the generic Google search box.

For our example, if we search in Google Scholar the word “community adaptation to climate change,” the search engine will return the following articles with their corresponding meta descriptions:

how to write thesis statement
Fig. 1. List of articles on community adaptation to climate change.

The top article matches the long-tail keyword thus is displayed first in the default ten articles for the page. This article is the most relevant among the articles shown but the second to fourth articles are also related. Now, the first four articles make up your first reference list. This is a good sign as this means that you will be able to see more relevant articles.

Take time to read the meta description, that brief description about the article related (or may not be related) to your chosen topic. It is here where you exercise your judgement whether to include or not include the article in your research proposal. If you find the article relevant, right click on the active link and open in a new tab.

Read the abstracts and see how the research proceeded. Reading about 30 of these articles will give you enough ideas to get your research going. See if there are gaps in knowledge in the articles you have read.

Step 3. Write your thesis statement

Once familiar with the variables that make up your research, it is time for you to write your thesis statement. In the example given above, I would advance the following thesis statement derived from reading the four abstracts on community level adaptation to climate change:

Thesis Statement:

Proactive strategies devised by both the communities and government and non-government organizations can reduce the vulnerability of communities to typhoons.

Notice that I attempt to relate two variables in this statement namely, 1) proactive strategies, and 2) vulnerability of communities to typhoons.

At this point, you are now ready to build your conceptual framework. I need not expound on it here as I have previously written an article titled “How to Build Your Conceptual Framework: A Step-by-Step Guide on How to Make One.”

If you want to have the whole package of articles to develop your research proposal, my newly published book titled “How to Write a Thesis in Today’s Information Age” can help you out. I provide exercises at the end of each chapter to hone your skills and hyperlinked keywords in the index facilitates navigation.

Cite this article as: Regoniel, Patrick A. (January 23, 2016). Three Tips on How to Write a Thesis Statement. In SimplyEducate.Me. Retrieved from http://simplyeducate.me/2016/01/23/three-tips-write-thesis-statement/

The Computer Vision Syndrome Epidemic: Are You a Victim?

What is computer vision syndrome? What happens when someone is afflicted with this syndrome? Is there something you can do about it? This article provides answers to these questions.

Are you a regular computer user? Since you are reading this article, chances are, you are one of those who spend most of their waking lives in front of the computer. It seems everyone could not dispense of their laptops, desktop, tablets, or cell phones. They need to keep up with the latest news, do some work, communicate with friends, search for literature, and many other things possible with that shiny liquid crystal display (LCD) or Light Emitting Diode (LED) screen.

But do you know that by staring at your gadgets for a long time can make you sick? You are at risk of getting a sickness that gradually becomes common among computer users nowadays. Doctors call this modern malady computer vision syndrome or CVS. According to Wimalasundera (2006), millions of new cases occur each year.

I learned about this health condition while searching an explanation for the pain I experience at the back of my ear whenever I spend hours writing articles, searching the literature for my lessons, and answering the endless flow of emails to answer official queries, friends, and monitor the progress of research projects. Probably, I am spending more than eight hours a day to do all these things. Well, the pain stopped when I reduced the time I devoted in front of my laptop.

What is CVS and what are its symptoms? I gathered the following information after a search through online literature. This time, I used Google Scholar to pick up information from refereed journals recognized for their reliability.

Computer Vision Syndrome Defined

Blehm et al. (2005) and Yan et al. (2008) describe computer vision syndrome as a health condition characterized by a collection of symptoms including eyestrain, tired eyes, irritation, redness, blurred vision, double vision, and neck and back pain. Recently, Khalaj et al. (2015) added dizziness as a symptom. All of these symptoms relate to the eyes.

The primary symptoms of CVS appears to be dry eye, as computer users seldom blink as they stare onto computer screens. But other authors say the primary symptoms include eyestrain and monitor glare (Khalaj et al., 2015). There appears to be no consensus for this understudied area among the authors. Much more research needs to be done to clarify the issue.

Despite the dearth of literature on this subject, scientists believe that the symptoms of CVS arise because of poor lighting. Inadequate ambient light makes people squint in making out the characters on their computer screen while highly reflective screens diffuse too much light that tire the eyes. Also, eyes focused too close to the screen, faulty eyeglasses, bad seating posture, too many tasks to do using computers, reduced variation in eye movement, or a combination of these factors, are contributory factors.

How can you avoid CVS?

Based on the likely causes, the following practices are recommended to frequent computer users to prevent CVS:

1. Blink more. Consciously blink your eyes periodically while using the computer. Blinking is a natural way to protect your eyes from infection, thus prevent dry eyes. If you do have dry eyes, omega-3 fatty acids can help alleviate symptoms. Rashid et al. (2008) conclude that topical alpha-linolenic acid treatment led to a significant decrease in dry eye signs.

2. Sit on an ergonomic chair. It pays to invest a little in a computer chair that support the spine of the back. Add a bamboo pad or similar material to prevent your buttocks from heating up and cause other health problems if you spend too much time seating on a chair.

3. Replace your old pair of glasses. Change your eyeglasses if they have been with you for more than two years. Optometrists recommend changing glasses once a year. Faulty eyeglasses may be the source of your frequent headaches.

4. Rest. Nobody undermines the importance of rest in any activity. All work and no play make Johnny a dull boy. If you likewise use the computer at play, then you need to change the game you play into something that can wean you away from your computer. How about inviting your friends and go out to take some interesting pictures in a famous tourism site?

5. Have enough light. Adjust the lighting conditions in your work area so you can read fonts better on your computer screen.

6. Move your eyes. Gaze away from the computer screen once in a while to give your eyes time to rest and refocus. Optometrist Roger Phelps recommends the 20-20-20 rule. The number represents 20 minutes of computer use and looking at something about 20 feet away for 20 seconds. The older you are, the shorter should be the time devoted to computer use.

The point of the whole matter is that you avoid spending too much time in front of the computer or your electronic gadgets. Spend time mingling with friends, physically, to establish bonds no computer can ever replace. You gain not only your health but food for your emotions.

References

Blehm, C., Vishnu, S., Khattak, A., Mitra, S., & Yee, R. W. (2005). Computer vision syndrome: a review. Survey of Ophthalmology, 50(3), 253-262.

Khalaj, M., Ebrahimi, M., Shojai, P., Bagherzadeh, R., Sadeghi, T., & Ghalenoei, M. (2015). Computer Vision Syndrome in Eleven to Eighteen-Year-Old Students in Qazvin. Biotechnology and Health Sciences, 2(3).

Rashid, S., Jin, Y., Ecoiffier, T., Barabino, S., Schaumberg, D. A., & Dana, M. R. (2008). Topical omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids for treatment of dry eye. Archives of Ophthalmology, 126(2), 219-225.

Wimalasundera, S. (2006). Computer vision syndrome. Galle Medical Journal, 11(1), 25-9.

Yan, Z., Hu, L., Chen, H., & Lu, F. (2008). Computer Vision Syndrome: A widely spreading but largely unknown epidemic among computer users. Computers in Human Behavior, 24(5), 2026-2042.

Cite this article as: Regoniel, Patrick A. (November 28, 2015). The Computer Vision Syndrome Epidemic: Are You a Victim?. In SimplyEducate.Me. Retrieved from http://simplyeducate.me/2015/11/28/computer-vision-syndrome/

The Role of Internet Technology in Enhancing Research Skills

Internet technology became a major part of everyone’s lives these days because of the many benefits derived from it. How did it develop and what is its role in enhancing the research skills of modern scientists? This article briefly describes the origin of the internet and its benefit to researchers. Further, the article reviews literature related to electronic publishing, the new mode of accessing and disseminating scientific information.

Internet technology developed through the contribution of dozens of computer scientists. A workable prototype came into being in the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) Network or ARPANET in the late 1960s. ARPANET served as a testing ground for innovative concepts such as packet switching, distributed topology and routing, and the connection of heterogeneous computer systems (Abbate, 1994).

According to Wright (1997), the world wide web as we know now, prospered through the effort of Tim Berners-Lee of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Now, internet technology cuts across boundaries, across countries, affecting virtually the lives of many people and the way they live. The information you need or want is just at the tip of your fingertips.

Internet Technology and Information Exchange

Given the ease of access to information provided by the internet, modern researchers can interact faster with each other. This rapid interaction enhances research skills as learning ensues online. It facilitates information exchange at the speed of light. Fiber optic cables or thin flexible glass fibers that transmit light signals facilitate telecommunication between individuals across continents. The nature and flow of information have significantly changed.

I illustrate the difference between the nature of information flow before and now in Table 1 especially in the Asia and Africa. This change in the mode of information exchange through internet technology favors contemporary researchers and enhances their research skills.

Table 1. Comparison of information flows before and after the introduction of internet technology.

Before Now
Outdated references in the libraryRecent literature accessible online
Manually accessible library collections Libraries or databases accessible online
Slow exchange of informationFast exchange of information
Publication of scientific articles takes
years
Publication takes a few months
Paid subscription journalsOpen access journals; creative commons

As I pointed out earlier in my post titled “Open Access Journals and Blogs: New Trends in Publishing Research Results,” the ease and speed by which researchers can publish their research articles in open access journals changes the way information gets shared worldwide. Spector et al. (2012) of Google recognized this saying that peer-reviewed paper as the dominant dissemination method is under threat. Just like the printed newspaper or the telegram, Internet technology can change their commercial viability. The internet changes the way people transact business. Not keeping up with the trend will leave non-adapting organizations or businesses behind the backend of obsoletism.

Enhanced Research Skills Offered by Internet Technology

Accessing thousands of articles available online allows beginning researchers to develop their trade and keep themselves updated in their field of specialization. When I started off doing research in the late 1990s, I have to content myself with what is available in the institution’s collection of scientific journals. Now, the following online databases help me write more sensible project reports, at a much faster pace:

1. Google Scholar

I did not realize the importance of Google Scholar until a month ago, after undergoing training in research pedagogy, even though I learned about it a few years back. What I like most in this search engine is that aside from being able to access journal articles (mostly abstracts) for free, it saves you the pain of manually typing your bibliography. Once you access the articles relevant to your study, you can just click whichever format you want your bibliography or literature to appear. You can choose from MLA, APA, and Chicago Manual of Style. It’s just a matter of copying and pasting the entries into your favorite word processor. Nonetheless, I use BibTex instead as I like to use Lyx, a front-end to the LaTeX typesetting system, as my favorite document processor.

While many authors critique the limitations of Google Scholar as a source of peer-reviewed literature (Jacsó, 2005; Bakkalbasi et al., 2006; Falagas et al., 2008; Meho and Yang, 2007), there is a general recognition that Google Scholar can be an excellent tool for information discovery and retrieval. Scopus works the same way, but I got no opportunity to explore this likewise free database. The website says it’s the world’s largest database of abstracts and citations of peer-reviewed literature.

2. Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ)

I came across this directory of open access journals a few years back. As I teach the research subject, I usually refer students to DOAJ, but they complain that they can access only a few relevant articles for their study. The collection of scientific articles in the directory appears limited compared to Google Scholar, but it offers full papers for free. However, in many cases, you need to learn Latin American languages to understand what’s going on south of the equator. As more scientists make available their research in open access journals, the database collection will be a good source of scientific information.

3. Philippine E-Journals

The Philippine E-Journals is an expanding collection of academic journals that allows Filipino researchers to share their findings to the world. Browsing through the site gives researchers an idea on what activities occupy researchers in many parts of the country. The database provides local researchers with context-relevant information. It also opens areas for collaboration in study sites that researchers can access easily given their relative proximity.

The Web Log as Quick Mode of Publication

While peer-review of articles for publication has its merits, the ease of publication offered by blogs has its advantages in the age of information technology. Putnam (2011) discussed the pros and cons of this approach. Her main concern pertains to the quality of articles published online. But as more researchers give premium to the speed by which information gets delivered, the order of information exchange soon may just be sharing information through blogs. You get the information you need in a matter of hours. This mode of information sharing becomes more relevant in matters of life and death such as cure to cancer or averting impending disasters that require timely information.

If there are questions about the reliability and soundness of information, such as the case of a NASA scientist who refused to answer another scientist’s critique of a bacteria that can survive in arsenic (see their discussion here), comments in the blog serve as peer review. As scientists interact in the comments section, the issue gets clarified.

Literature Cited

Abbate, J. E. (1994). From ARPANET to Internet: A history of ARPA-sponsored computer networks, 1966–1988.

Bakkalbasi, N., Bauer, K., Glover, J., and Wang, L. (2006). Three options for citation tracking: Google Scholar, Scopus and Web of Science. Biomedical Digital Libraries, 3(1):7.

Falagas, M. E., Pitsouni, E. I., Malietzis, G. A., and Pappas, G. (2008). Comparison of PubMed, Scopus, Web of Science, and Google Scholar: strengths and weaknesses. The FASEB Journal, 22(2):338–342.

Jacsó, P. (2005). Google Scholar: the pros and the cons. Online Information Review, 29(2):208–214.

Meho, L. I. and Yang, K. (2007). Impact of data sources on citation counts and rankings of LIS faculty: Web of Science versus Scopus and Google Scholar. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 58(13):2105–2125.

Putnam, L. (2011). The changing role of blogs in science information dissemination. Issues in Science and Technology Librarianship, (65):4.

Spector, A., Norvig, P., and Petrov, S. (2012). Google’s hybrid approach to research. Communications of the ACM, 55(7):34–37.

Wright, R. (1997). The man who invented the web. Time Magazine, 149(20):64–8.

©2015 October 17 P. A. Regoniel

Cite this article as: Regoniel, Patrick A. (October 17, 2015). The Role of Internet Technology in Enhancing Research Skills. In SimplyEducate.Me. Retrieved from http://simplyeducate.me/2015/10/17/internet-technology-research-skills/

Open Access Journals and Blogs in Research

How can open access journals and blogs influence the future of research publication? What is the trend nowadays? This article discusses how these new developments of the information age can change the direction of research in the world.

Exchange of information between scientists through publication in reputable, peer-reviewed journals may change in the next decade. As open access publication gradually takes over the conventional print and online abstracts that require someone to purchase to read the whole study, there are signs that the whole process of information dissemination will change soon. Blogs may become the new medium for exchanging ideas among scientists. This article explains how.

New ideas such as promoting research articles through open access publishing in a highly dynamic digital world that we live right now always have birth pains. But the power of online publishing is experienced by contemporary authors who opted to publish their research findings in open access, peer-reviewed scientific journals for faster dissemination. This approach gives their research papers, their ideas or their thesis, a greater opportunity to get cited by many other scientists because of the easy access offered by online publishing.

Online Databases and Open Access Journals

Modern scientists have greater probabilities of getting their scientific articles cited. And, many software applications support this approach to speed further up the online publication process.

Database applications such as Mendeley can effectively help authors organize their collection of articles; particularly, those articles that are relevant to their specific field of expertise. Google Scholar is there to supply the needed references for free. It provides handy references useful in developing research proposals or writing a comprehensive review of the literature on a researcher’s topic of interest. The Directory of Open Access Journals provides a venue for researchers to publish their articles in open access scientific journals. These tools were unavailable two decades ago.

Now, researchers could not lament the lack of references to help them identify gaps in knowledge, not only within their home countries but virtually, the whole world. Everyone can gain access peer-reviewed literature and publish online at the comfort of their homes or offices. Thus, the quality of the literature review that contemporary researchers can make differs significantly from researchers of the 1990s.

The Rise of the Blogs

Dr. Gustavo Fischman, a well-known professor of Arizona State University and editor of open-access journals, recognizes the power of open-access publishing and even blogs. This mode of disseminating information thrives in Latin America and Africa. Around 73% of the open access journals originate from these regions. A lot of discussion on recent research topics goes on in the region. This healthy exchange of ideas can further enrich research findings. You may listen to the podcast of the interview with Dr. Fischmann where he recognized the changing model of academic publishing.

More author exposure is possible with the ease by which one can self-publish articles worthy as references. Putnam (2011) noted that science blogs promote quick dissemination of research, increases cooperation and potentially makes the author’s research stronger. There is no need to wait in the long queue of conventional scientific publishing, even the open access ones. Thus, the cost of publication is small, but the gains in learning something new or groundbreaking is high.

Some people will criticize that blogs are not peer-reviewed. But this is taken cared of by readers, who may be authorities in their respective fields, right there in the comment form under the published article. The blog’s author can then respond and address the critic’s concern. No conventional scientific journal can feature this interaction between people.

How about the citation of research findings or other articles on research?

Well, that’s relatively easy. Even this article has its suggested citation in APA format below. Anybody can cite this article that explains and sets the trend on how the era of publishing new findings can take a new form – through the power of blogs that emphasize quality publications.

Reference

Putnam, L. (2011). The changing role of blogs in science information dissemination. Issues in Science and Technology Librarianship, (65), 4.

Cite this article as: Regoniel, Patrick A. (October 11, 2015). Open Access Journals and Blogs in Research. In SimplyEducate.Me. Retrieved from http://simplyeducate.me/2015/10/11/open-access-journals-blogs-research/

The Yaya Dub Phenomenon: Why Videos Go Viral

Yaya Dub is one of the intriguing phenomena that ever happened in the digital age. Who is Yaya Dub and how did she become so popular within a short period? Why is she getting so much attention among netizens and television viewers not only in the Philippines but also in other countries?

This article applies the scientific approach in trying to understand why a dubber became an overnight celebrity and why she gained so many followers in youtube, and recently, on television.

I was so intrigued by the Yaya Dub phenomenon as virtually everyone I meet knows about it. The mere mention of the phrase evokes familiarity.

I tried to find out in Google’s Keyword Planner what is the monthly search statistics for just the term “Yaya Dub.” The keyword gained 22,200 searches in July and 49,500 in August. I have set the United States as the target country. However, youtube reaches virtually all countries in the world, so I clicked on All Locations as the target for the keyword. It showed 301,260 in July, and 550,980 in August.

But, what about the Philippines where the youtube videos about Yaya Dub originated? Again, I reset the location to the Philippines. The statistics showed 246,210 in July and 451,310 in August. It goes to say that Filipinos account for most of the traffic.

Why this so much traffic for the apparently simple activity such as dubbing? Do viewers obtain benefit from those videos? The ultimate answer in this case presumably is pure entertainment.

What does the literature say about viral or popular videos? What prompts people to share Yaya Dub’s antics?

What scientists say about viral videos

In her dissertation, Izawa (2010) found out that those who had shared or would share the viral videos felt stronger emotions than those who did not share them. These are emotions of happiness, humor, surprise, fear, sadness, and anger.

Upon sharing the videos, those who shared expect the receiver to feel the same way they did. Southgate et al. (2010) confirmed this observation. Since many people use youtube in sharing videos, the platform facilitated the sharing process.

Yaya Dub Videos: The Emotional Content

See the following viral videos of Yaya Dub. Discern which emotions appealed to you most that made you think of sharing the content to your friends.

The videos showed a diversity of emotions aptly expressed by the comedienne. Did it in any way prompt you to share it with your friends? What could have been the motivation of viewers for sharing what they have seen? Do you agree with the findings of the scientists?

Your comments will help affirm or refute the findings.

References

Izawa, M. (2010). What Makes Viral Videos Viral?: Roles of Emotion, Impression, Utility, and Social Ties in Online Sharing Behavior. PhD thesis, Johns Hopkins University.

Southgate, D., Westoby, N., and Page, G. (2010). Creative determinants of viral video viewing. International Journal of Advertising, 29(3):349–368.

Cite this article as: Regoniel, Patrick A. (September 25, 2015). The Yaya Dub Phenomenon: Why Videos Go Viral. In SimplyEducate.Me. Retrieved from http://simplyeducate.me/2015/09/25/yaya-dub-phenomenon/

Innovations and Education in the 21st Century

What is the role of innovation in furthering education and vice-versa? The author reflects on current technological development and how this influenced man’s acquisition of knowledge and outcomes arising from application of derived innovations. Shall we tread on in our chosen path?

The society we are in at present is a product of evolved responses made by man through years of history. Human society, as we know it, originally consisted of a few people interacting with each other and its environment primarily to meet their basic needs for survival.

From the mere preoccupation with activities to satisfy a hungry stomach as in the early hunting and gathering stage where humans live a nomadic life, man progressed toward achieving self-sufficiency with lesser effort. Agricultural production with the aid of technology developed into a complex system as it is now. Crude, human-powered technologies advanced into mechanized or automated modes, thus increasing production to such levels so as to supply an increasing demand brought by a growing human population.

What caused these changes?

If we look closely, the primary motivation to achieve such changes comes from within the individuals that compose society. The desire to improve one’s plight spurs creativity. An idea to resolve a problem situation can motivate individuals to undertake significant steps to do better than status quo. These new ideas that get something done are what we usually call innovations.

innovations
Innovations change lives.

The Role of Innovations in Society

Innovations could change the direction the society takes. Moreover, innovations are shaped by stored knowledge provided by education or experience.

It is a known fact that education plays a great role in society’s development. In recent times, this has become very vital considering the fast pace of change accorded by the deluge of information provided by technology that connects thoughts from all over the world using computers.

We cannot discount the fact that information technology has influenced the way people build societies. It is now possible to exchange information in almost all corners of the world, even those areas that were previously thought to be isolated.

Schools, therefore, should not ignore this fact and subscribe itself to keep pace with changing times. Soon, physical presence may no longer be required in the exchange of information between mentor and students. Schools no longer monopolize the dissemination of knowledge. Knowledge pervades all nooks and crannies of any country through internet technology.

It is for this fact that serious attention must be given by schools, as a primary agent of change in society, to the quality of education imparted to the masses. The development path pursued by current education appears to be towards man’s undoing. The more our society progresses, the more problems that crop up. New technologies bring with it externalities that undermine the advances made.

Satisfying wants and achieving conveniences in living cause pollution, not only on the physical dimension but also on people’s values in life or morality. Almost always, increased crime rate is equated with development or urbanization.

Finally, as an empowering resource to individuals, knowledge through education should be provided in such a way that no area of human life is left unfulfilled. Focus must be on the individual’s, and thus, society’s total development. The ultimate goal is still there — to ensure human survival.

©2015 September 10 P. A. Regoniel

Cite this article as: Regoniel, Patrick A. (September 10, 2015). Innovations and Education in the 21st Century. In SimplyEducate.Me. Retrieved from http://simplyeducate.me/2015/09/10/innovations/

Outcome-Based Research: Directing Research Towards the Desired Goal

Have you ever heard of or read about outcome-based research (OBR)? Does it sound familiar?

The truth is, outcome-based research is a word play from outcome-based education (OBE), a popular theory that emphasizes the outcomes or goals of an educational system, that is, the focus is not on content but to the object of the training – the student. Also, OBE does not follow the rigid dictates of some sort of methodology to educate the student. It focuses on the outcome, or goal as the ultimate measure of the effectiveness of a curriculum. OBR works the same way.

The Principle of Outcome-Based Research

The idea of OBR just occurred in my mind as I read through or heard about outcome-based education. Why not adopt the same principle in doing research? Make it goal-oriented just like OBE.

As research director of the university, I embarked on the idea by holding a three-day research planning workshop two weeks ago. And I used e-tools in putting the OBR approach to work. The e-tools I used consisted of a free version of Vensim®, a systems analysis tool and XMind, a mindmapping software.

I believe that research performance in the university will be boosted further by the innovative approach of outcome-based research. The focus is on the goal of research founded on the research agenda of the university.

Vensim was used to identify which specific issues need to be addressed by research programs, projects, or activities. The tool was used to help unravel which variable or variables of the whole chain of interconnected events or resource states really matter. It also helped the researcher discern if he or she has the relevant expertise to do research along an issue or problem identified in the systems analysis.

When the specific issue or problem has already been identified, the participants of the workshop came up with their desired research goal to help address the issue or problem. The desired goal became the head of the fishbone diagram created using XMind.

Outcome-based research starts at the goal, then works back to identify the steps required to achieve the pre-set goal. I provide below an example of the OBR approach:

pollution mitigation
Outcome-based research approach to mitigate pollution using low-cost technologies.

Outcome-based Research is Goal-oriented

You would notice that by stating clearly the goal of research, everything falls in place. Research now is not simply just research for the sake of research but an exercise which can help resolve an issue or problem. The steps required in carrying out the research venture are also identified such that all efforts converge towards a desired goal. It is a step-by-step process.

Outcome-based research, therefore, is a new approach that brings the value of research towards a higher level. It is responsive to the needs of society. It does not stop at publications as the outcome of research but a much higher goal that can make life better for everyone. Research is not just for the sake of personal gain but for the sake of humanity.

©2015 August 2 P. A. Regoniel

10 Guide Questions on How to Identify a Good Research Topic

Learning the theories is not enough, you need to verify them through actual application of prevailing paradigms that explain complex phenomena. And the first crucial thing you should do is to identify a good research topic.

How do you identify a research topic? If you have this dilemma at this time, here are 10 guide questions on how you should be able to get out of this bottleneck and apply whatever research training you have had while doing course work.

10 Guide Questions on How to Identify a Research Topic

1. What topics does your funding institution support?

While you may have a lot of choices to begin with, it pays to find out first the priority topic of your funding institution. It is possible that you have very good ideas to pursue, but you may not have the financial resources to fuel your investigation. If you can afford to spend for your research then you may have more leeway.

2. Does your research output have any use at all?

After conducting the study, will your research work help shed light on issues or resolve some sort of problem that will make life better for people? The greater the utility you can get out of your research, the more satisfaction you will gain. Find a need and address that need using your research skills.

3. Are research tools available for your use?

What method or methodology will you apply in your study? Do you have equipment or materials that need to be purchased or available in your university? Using existing equipment or instruments will be to your great advantage. It will save you time, money, and effort.

4. Can the research problem be answered within the given time frame for you to finish your course?

If your scholarship allows you two years of doing research, then it’s just sensible that you finish your thesis within this period or even less. Anyhow, your first research venture is essentially just a practice, in partial fulfillment of your course requirements.

5. Do people search for answers to your question?

You need to cite people related to your work. You might have that misconception or wrong notion that nobody ever did a study along the topic that you have in mind. There will always be related literature and studies which you can review to narrow down your search to a concern that nobody delved into.

A popular topic such as climate change may be broad but many things can crop out of it. Also, funding along this concern appears to be very much available nowadays.

6. Is your research topic novel?

If you thought about your research topic as a result of your personal experience such as visiting a community needing help on some health issue, or predicament that significantly affect their lives, then that would be a great research topic. It is also expected to be of great utility to people. Chances are, you are treading a new path. If you pioneer an area of research, eventually, you will become an authority in that niche.

7. Is your problem within the range of your discipline?

When you specialize, you narrow down your focus so that you become an expert in that discipline. The more you know about your trade, the less that you know about other things. But then you have to make sure that you work within the range of topics within your discipline so your research is relevant to your field of specialization.

8. Did you seek guidance from your research adviser?

You may think confidently that your topic is the best there is. But your professor has the experience and broader understanding of your field so don’t hesitate to consult a senior researcher or experienced professor regarding your topic.

9. Did you explore the literature?

Browsing through recent research papers in your discipline will give you ideas on what issues or problems are being studied. You start off with observations and verify these observations with a comprehensive review of relevant literature.

A university subscription to a database of scientific journals is a big help. Web of science is a scientific publication authority many researchers have been depending on for many years.

For third world countries, this is not easy; and researchers have to contend with whatever they have at hand. This impacts on the quality of their research although open access journals are becoming popular and may be the norm in the future (see doaj.org).

10. What strengths do you possess that will enable you to do the required tasks in your study?

You have to assess your capabilities or skills to undertake what you have in mind. Be realistic. Don’t study the corals if you don’t even know how to swim and is afraid of water. Your health may also prevent you from doing a very good research intention.

Finally, all these tips will be for naught unless sensibly applied. Words are useless unless put into immediate action. Start off now and share your discoveries.

©2015 June 20 P. A. Regoniel

Five Tips on How to Write a Conclusion

The conclusion is an integral part of a research paper or thesis. Writing a proper conclusion, therefore, should not be taken for granted. It wraps up the major findings of a scientific investigation and serves as a springboard for future studies.

How should this essential part of a research paper be written? What good practices can you adopt for effectively writing it up?

This article provides five tips on how to write a conclusion with examples for greater clarity.

5 Tips on How to Write a Conclusion

1. Go back to the objectives of your research

To be systematic about it, re-read the objectives of your study or the statement of the problem. Write something about objective number 1, number 2, and so on.

After going through all those methods to answer the objectives or the statement of your problem, write your synthesis of findings in a sentence or two. The idea is to write the conclusion concisely without leaving out the important elements.

Consider this simplified example:

Objective #1. Determine the relationship between time spent by teenagers on social networking sites and time spent with friends offline.

Conclusion: There is a reason to believe that time spent on social networking sites reduces teenagers opportunities to spend time with friends offline.

That is the meat of your conclusion. You can build on that statement and offer ideas so that other researchers can investigate further on the issues you have raised.

You may ask yourself the question: “So what if the time spent by teenagers on social networking sites reduce their time spent with friends online?” You might go on to say that this is an important finding that parents and educators must look into to prevent teenagers from becoming socially handicapped adults. This weakness could lead to inability to work harmoniously with other people.

2. Review your introduction

Make sure that your conclusion addresses the issue or gap that you have identified while exploring the research subject in the introduction of your research paper.

Have you resolved the issues that you have raised or did your investigation lead to more questions?

Your conclusion should wrap up the whole paper. It is here where you integrate all your findings. Integrate means putting all of the ideas together to come up with a general idea. That general idea becomes a theory in the long run; that is if future studies converge towards or support what you are proposing as an explanation for a phenomenon. In other words, this is where you once again present your thesis.

For example, using the study on time spent by teenagers online, your introduction may have pointed out that many of the recent graduates are socially-handicapped employees. So this could be traced to their habits as “screenagers” or teenagers who spent most of their time in front of the computer in the past.

3. Raise questions for further study

Not all research results are conclusive. It is possible that the data you have gathered is not enough to draw out a sound conclusion that can help explain the issue you are looking into. There may be things that need to be added, considered, or factored in to shed better light to an unexplained phenomenon.

You can point this out in the conclusion and offer a course of action that future researchers can take. This will help researchers investigating a similar issue to use your paper as one of the foundations for another study. Your research will help unravel the mysteries of a phenomenon that baffle contemporary scientists.

For example, a medical researcher may have found evidence that immunotherapy works better than all other conventional treatments to cancer. But the samples are quite small such that the efficacy of such treatment could not be established for the general population. It is possible that immunotherapy works for only a certain group of people, but not for everyone.

4. Write from specific to general

Writing the conclusion follows an inductive approach. This means that you write it from specific to general. You have broken down the problem into manageable bits during the analysis. Now, in writing the conclusion, you build from the pieces once again to come up with a broad picture.

5. Leave out the extras

The conclusion should be without unnecessary statements that destroy the objectivity of the conclusion. Avoid statements that are

  • sentimental
  • afterthoughts
  • phrases that state the obvious such as “In conclusion,” “Summing it all up,” etc.
  • unnecessary statistics, and
  • quotations.

Give yourself ample time to practice these tips. Writing a good conclusion is a thesis writing skill that needs to be honed.

References

Literacy Education Online (n.d.) Strategies for writing a conclusion. Retrieved on May 30, 2015 from http://leo.stcloudstate.edu/acadwrite/conclude.html 2004

The Writing Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (n.d.). Conclusions. Retrieved on May 30, 2015 from http://writingcenter.unc.edu/handouts/conclusions/

©2015 June 12 P. A. Regoniel

Thesis Writing: 9 Tips on How to Write the Results and Discussion

Writing the results and discussion section could be one of the difficulties that you encounter when writing your first research manuscript. There is no simple hard and fast rule in doing it but the following guide can help you start off with confidence.

The results and discussion section is also referred to as the data presentation, analysis, and interpretation section. You present the results, show the analysis, and interpret the outcome of the analysis.

As a take off point, it would help if we separate these two terms, i.e., results and discussion, into simply the results and the discussion as separate parts of the paper. In some universities and usually in scientific journals, however, these are taken as one.

Writing the Results

As the term connotes, you should write only the results of your study. What comprises the results? I describe it in detail in the following paragraphs.

1. Graphs, tables, or photographs

Observations are derived from the application of your methodology or method. These can be best presented using tables and graphs as objective representation of the measurements that you made. Numbers are more definite approximations of reality compared to just mere words. Words are more subjective and replete with misunderstanding.

Be consistent with your units of measurement. If you start off with kg, then use the same unit all throughout your paper.

Never should you manipulate the outcome of your measurements. Be honest in presenting information even if the result is unexpected. Whether the result is positive or negative, present it. This is an objective move.

You may also add photographs whenever needed but make sure these are relevant, not just whimsical addition to your paper or a means to flaunt your good photography skills; although it would be advantageous to show such skill coupled with relevance. Pictures can speak a thousand words.

In general, give as much detail as possible in your presentation of the results. Read and reread your statements for clarity. Engage a competent friend or a colleague’s discerning eye for details.

2. Topic sentences or subheadings

It is easy to follow your presentation if you break this into meaningful subtopics based on your stated objectives. A one-to-one correspondence would be great. Say, the first subheading will be about objective one, the second subheading about objective two, and so on.

Notice that in writing this article, it is an easy read to have a subheading for every major thought. This makes for easy reading thus understanding. And the writing becomes logical.

3. Key results

Your key results should be stated clearly at the beginning of each paragraph. It should serve as the topic sentence (see the TSPU Principle). Support that statement with more detail such as presenting the results of statistical analysis.

For example:

There is a significant positive relationship between the number of hours spent by students in answering Mathematics questions and their examination score. This result is consistent across all grade levels in the three schools examined. Table 1 shows the correlation coefficients and their corresponding significance level.

Writing the Discussion

After examining several theses of previous years, I noticed that many undergraduate and even graduate students miss this part. The results were presented as well as the analysis but no discussion is in sight.

So what comprises the discussion? Here’s what should be present in the discussion part:

1. Trends and spatial differences

Trends refer to changes over time. Are your results showing an increasing, decreasing or just plain, constant direction? This should be evident in the graph that you presented.

Spatial differences refer to differences in space or location within the same time frame. Is there a significant difference between the two groups examined? Is there a difference in the morphological measurements of one group of animals obtained from one location compared to another group? These are questions that explore spatial differences.

2. Insightful interpretation of results

Insightful interpretation means well thought explanations. That means you will have to ponder deeply the results of your study and make a knowledgeable statement of your interpretation using the body of evidence at hand. This is where you cite evidences obtained by other authors. You either confirm or affirm other people’s work or refute using your own findings.

3. Generalizations

Be on guard in writing your generalizations. Make sure that the data you analyzed can be extrapolated or will allow you to predict somehow the behavior of one variable. If you have enough samples then you may make a generalization.

How enough is enough, you may ask. If your data has little variability as indicated by low variances, then it is possible that additional measurements will not change whatever trend you have.

Always match your generalization with whatever results you have. Conversely, do not generalize when you have very few samples. Don’t say 50% when you actually have only two, three, or even four samples described in your study. That’s plain absurd.

4. Exceptions to the rule

In scientific inquiry, not all things or factors are discovered. There are always unknown or unaccounted areas. This is the reason why everything is founded on probability. No one’s 100 percent sure. So you should never say “prove” as a matter of contention. Prove means 100% sure which never happens. There are always expected deviants from the norm.

5. Reasons why things happen

Things happen due to something else. Reaction arises from action. These are called determining factors.

Are there reasons why your results follow a trend? Is it evident in your study? If there is, then say it and explain why so, again based on your observations or evidence.

You may guess but make it educated, meaning, you have done your homework. You have reviewed the literature and use it as a leverage for advancing your hypothesis or inference.

Does your finding support or refute what has been done so far? Does it support previously advanced hypotheses?

Remember that there is no such thing as a simple explanation of a complex phenomenon. Find one that is most aligned to your findings.

It would be interesting to be in the controversial side as long as you have done your study systematically and bias is reduced to a minimum.

6. The contribution of your work

What the are the important things that your study has contributed so far in view of what has been laid out in the body of literature? Why is your work important and what things need to be investigated further?

From your set of questions, if many other questions arise, then your work has helped unravel other areas worthy of investigation. This is just how science works. The mysteries of the universe are uncovered yet there are still many unknowns.

No human has absolute understanding of everything. But if your work has potential to make life better, then it’s a great accomplishment.

Reference:

Kim Kastens, Stephanie Pfirman, Martin Stute, Bill Hahn, Dallas Abbott, and Chris Scholz (n.d.). How to write your thesis. Retrieved May 24, 2015 from http://www.ldeo.columbia.edu/~martins/sen_sem/thesis_org.html