Tag Archives: research topic

Marketing Research Conceptual Framework

What is marketing research? How do you come up with your conceptual framework on marketing research? This article defines the concept and provides a simplified example.

One of the readers of my article on how to develop a conceptual framework asked if I could provide an example conceptual framework on marketing research. I am quite interested in applying the principles of marketing research on my entrepreneurial venture such as in creating and running this website.

It so happened I came across a book on marketing research in BOOKSALE while looking for textbooks on statistics. The book is on sale, so I pulled out my wallet and shelled out a little investment for my hungry brain. The title of the book is a straightforward “Essentials of Marketing Research” by William Zikmund.

I set aside 15 minutes to read the book right after my jogging session. I did this thinking that my mind could actively absorb the contents of the highly academic book after pumping a lot of oxygen during vigorous exercise. In fact, Hillman (2008) noted the beneficial effect of aerobic exercise to cognition. Exercise not only improves physical health but also academic performance.

To come up with a conceptual framework for marketing research, I find it necessary to define marketing research first.

Marketing Research Defined

Zikmund (1999) defines marketing research as a systematic and objective process of generating information to aid in marketing decisions. This process includes specifying what information is required, designing the method for collecting information, managing and implementing the collection of data, analyzing the results, and communicating the findings and their implications.

The most important thing in this definition is that marketing research, as in any research venture, helps business owners or marketing managers make decisions. Marketing research sheds light on customer’s preferences, the long-range profitability of business operations, and other product-oriented concerns.

Successful companies like Google, Microsoft, IBM, among other well-known businesses must be employing excellent marketing research activities to keep their edge. Decisions related to their products and services are not haphazardly done. Managers decide with calculated risks.

Example Conceptual Framework on Marketing Research

One of the popular marketing research activities focuses on product quality and services. I illustrate product and service research with a personal experience below.

A few years back, I answered a simple questionnaire soliciting my feedback on the product and services of a pizza shop. The questionnaire sought my rating of pizza taste, service speed, and the courtesy of the server.

We can plot the paradigm of the study as follows:

marketing research example
The paradigm of the pizza study showing the independent and the dependent variables.

The paradigm above shows the conceptual framework of the study. It is an abstract representation of what the pizza manager or consultant has in mind. It shows the variables that the researcher shall examine to determine which of the three variables correlate most with customer satisfaction.

Why were the three independent variables namely pizza taste, service speed, and waiter courtesy selected? A review of the literature on customer satisfaction may have revealed that these variables are determinants of customer satisfaction. But in the particular location where the pizza restaurant operates, any of these variables may be more important than the other. A study found out that customer preferences vary geographically. This finding implies that clients in one place may prioritize courtesy over taste. In one location, customers may put a premium on service speed. In another location, customers may not mind much either the speed or courtesy but the taste.

So how will the marketing manager use the findings of the study in the given example? If for example, customers in the location I’m in prioritizes service speed, then the appropriate action should be to improve the speed of pizza delivery without compromising taste and courtesy.

This example illustrates the importance of marketing research in making decisions that can help businesses grow. Research findings guide marketing managers on what steps to take to improve their business operations.

Reference

Hillman, C. H., Erickson, K. I., & Kramer, A. F. (2008). Be smart, exercise your heart: exercise effects on brain and cognition. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 9(1), 58-65.

Zikmund, W. (1999). Essentials of marketing research. Dryden Press. 422 pp.

Cite this article as: Regoniel, Patrick A. (May 20, 2016). Marketing Research Conceptual Framework. In SimplyEducate.Me. Retrieved from http://simplyeducate.me/2016/05/20/marketing-research/

Two Questions for Great Research Topics

Plain and straightforward tips on how to come up with great research topics. Read on to find out.

Students often come to me and ask what research topics would be worth pursuing to fulfill their course requirements. I always refer them to the university’s research agenda as it defines what the country needs to realize the goals of sustainable development. The university’s research agenda is broad enough to cater to everyone’s interest, but there is a need to bring this down to a level that one can practically pursue in the field.

Recognizing the need to narrow down further the research topic to make it doable, I usually ask my students two questions that will guide them in selecting a research topic and start off their research venture with greater confidence.

Two Questions to Identify Great Research Topics

I ask the following questions to help students find their way in the maze of topics they find particularly when they are online. These questions assist them to arrive at great research topics that are practical and doable.

1. What research topic strikes your interest?

This question is easier answered if a student is a masters degree candidate. But for undergraduate students who do research by groups, selecting great research topics that represent the group’s interest is a bit tricky. A few confident undergraduate students would tell me that they would like to do their research by themselves because of this concern. But I convince them that the investigation is better done in groups considering the multi-disciplinary nature of current research interests. And doing research in groups help them develop desirable values such as cooperation, unity, punctuality, and generosity as they interact with each other.

Hence, there is a need for the members of the group to spend time together to discuss and come up with a topic that will represent everyone’s interest. A mind mapping activity can best capture ideas concepts and let the group see their options better.

2. How much time and money can you allocate to your research?

Sometimes, students tend to undertake projects that are beyond their means to perform as well as fund. Thus, I ask them to prepare a work and financial plan so that they can define the tasks to do, the time required for it, and the associated costs of the activity.

I show a simple work and financial plan below that can help students manage their time, effort, and finances.

TaskTime FrameEstimated CostRemarks
JanFebMar
1. Gather relevant literaturexP 150photocopy
2. Develop conceptual framework-xP 500meeting
3. Prepare questionnaire –xP  800printing
4. Gather data—xP 1,000fare, snacks
5. Encode data and analyzexxP 1,500statistician’s fee
6. Write and revise paper–xx
7. Submit manuscriptxP 500photocopy
TOTALP 4,450

x – week performed

After having an idea of the cost involved in carrying out the study, students will now be in a better position to decide if they are willing to incur such expense. This approach prevents unexpected expenses that may be beyond the capacity of the students to fund thus avert cost overruns.

If the research topic entails expenses that are way beyond the capacity of the group to fund, then the rational option is to find another topic that won’t cost an arm and a leg.

Simple tips like this make life easier for many students.

©2016 April 5 P. A. Regoniel

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/

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

The Economic Loss of Rice Farms Due to Sea Level Rise and Farmer Adaptations

How are research topics arrived at? One of the ways on how to identify a phenomenon worthy of research investigation is to go out on field and ask questions.

This article discusses how research topics in environmental science can be generated through interaction with community members as clients of the research outputs. Specifically, it examined the issue of sea level rise as a pressing issue threatening the rice production capacity of a community living next to Malampaya Sound, a marine biodiversity rich body of water located northeast of Palawan Island. It was once dubbed the ‘fish bowl’ of the Philippines.

The trip yesterday to Abongan, a farming community in the municipality of Taytay located 167 kilometers northeast of Puerto Princesa, Palawan (Figure 1), was a fruitful one. I discovered an environmental issue that could be a good research topic to explore. The rice farmers in that community experience the negative effects of sea level rise – a manifestation of climate change. This issue arose as our research team conducted a focus group discussion with agriculture stakeholders.

sea level rise
A map showing the location of sea level rise affected farmlands in Abongan (Map source: Wikimapia.org).

Salt water inundated and changed a portion of the farmlands into mangrove stands. The phenomenon started way back in 1994, according to the barangay chairman of Abongan.

Reminded of the environmental economics perspective on evaluating environmental issues, a question popped in my mind: “How much in terms of money is the value lost by farmers each year because of the advancing sea waters?”

The Economic Loss of Rice Farms Due to Sea Level Rise

To objectively examine the issue discussed earlier, let us enumerate and assume the value of the different variables at play in this phenomenon:

  1. Area of farmland affected by sea level rise: 200 hectares
  2. Number of cavans of unhusked rice grains (palay) produced per hectare: 100
  3. Percentage of rice (bigas) produced in a cavan of palay: 25% or 1/4
  4. Price per kilogram of rice: PhP42 or $0.92
  5. Kilograms of rice per cavan: 50
  6. Number of croppings per year: 2
  7. Percentage of return from farm investment: 50%

The net loss of income on annual basis, therefore, can be computed by converting the net income from rice produced per hectare to the number of hectares affected. This is obtained by multiplying the number of kilos of rice produced per hectare to current price. This is equal to 25 cavans or 1,250 kilograms times PhP42 ($0.92); that gives a total of PhP52,500 ($1,150) per hectare.

If 200 hectares are affected by sea level rise each year, the total value of rice yield per hectare will be PhP10,500,000 ($48,300) per cropping season. Since there are two cropping seasons per year, total annual loss in income will be double this amount.

The annual loss in income of farms in Abongan, therefore, will be PhP21,000,000 or $96,600. Since the percentage of return from investment is roughly 50%, the annual loss in net income is half this final value which is the same value obtained for one cropping season, i.e., PhP10,500,000 ($48,300).

The value given above assumes that the area of affected farmland is the same. But farmers observed that saltwater goes further inland each year. This causes anxiety among farm owners especially those whose land lie next to rivers.

Adaptation of Rice Farmers to Sea Level Rise

Currently, some of the farmers build dikes to prevent saltwater from flowing into their farms. There’s also a plan to increase the flow of freshwater from the watershed to their farms.

Further reflecting on the issue, three questions came to my mind:

  1. What species of mangroves successfully settled in the upper reaches of the river next to farms?
  2. What are the other adaptations measures did farmers make to mitigate the advancing waters aside from dikes and increased freshwater flow?
  3. What is the salinity of river water next to farms?

Now, can you appreciate the value of having to go out in the field and identify environmental issues that hound communities? In the process of finding answers to questions, the outcome of your study will be helpful inputs that will empower communities.

Figuring out your research topic in the four corners of the classroom will offer you less ideas to pursue. Get up and explore the world.

©2015 January 11 P. A. Regoniel

10 College Research Topics to Explore

Are you a college student looking for a relevant research topic to explore?  Do you find it difficult to figure out what you would want to pursue given the limited time you need to prepare your thesis? This article is for you.

The article provides tips on how to come up with your research topic plus 10 research topics that you might want to pursue as you begin to write your first research paper.

What is a good research topic?

One of the things that college students find difficult in the course of preparing their thesis is how to come up with good research topics to explore. The identification of a good research topic is actually one of the most challenging activities that college students have to face as they begin writing their first research paper.

What topics are considered to be research topics appropriate for college students? As a professor handling research subjects in the university, I start off with questions that guide students in the course of developing their research topics. Among the questions I ask are the following:

  • What problems or needs in the communities around you can you help address using research as a tool?
  • What current issues do you know that have arisen in the past few months that caught your attention?
  • Is the research topic you intend to develop relevant to the course you are pursuing?
  • Are you working on topics that are related to the research agenda set forth by the university or college?

These questions have time and again stimulated the students’ thinking in such a way that they have come up with new research topics relevant to their course. These questions also touch on students’ responsibility in helping their communities adapt to rapid changes brought forth by both man and nature; such as rapid urbanization and sophisticated technologies and climate change, respectively. These two things greatly influenced everyone’s lifestyle.

Recently, I synthesized four research agenda after consulting with stakeholders and taking note of the national research agenda as starting points. I list below ten of the topics identified by college students as I gave them the four research agenda to guide them along the way namely

  • biodiversity conservation,
  • disaster risk reduction,
  • pollution prevention and mitigation, and
  • research enhancement, administration, and publication.

10 Research Topics to Explore

Here are research topics that you might want to pursue in the course of developing your thesis requirement based on the agenda I mentioned a while ago. These consist of those topics thought out by students. I also incorporate my own set of topics based on conferences I attended as well as personal observations.

  1.  Saltwater intrusion effects to the health of coastal communities
  2. Distribution and status of endemic birds in (name of place)
  3. Adaptation of coastal communities to sea level rise
  4. Addressing the externalities of oil pollution
  5. Factors affecting the publication performance of the faculty members in (university or college)
  6. The role of hygiene in preventing disease outbreaks
  7. Common diseases suffered by evacuees in disaster prone areas
  8. Household adaptation options to typhoons and related disasters
  9. Endemic plants with curative properties
  10. The economic value of island hopping as a tourist activity

These topics are just starting points. Along the way, while you review the literature, consult with experts, browse the internet, among others, your knowledge about these topics will expand. This will mean that you will be able to make refinements on the research topic you are interested in. It is also good practice to see how researchers approached the problem, i. e., what their methodologies are in answering the objectives of their study.

If the above topics are not enough or relevant to your course, or if you need more information on how to generate your research topic, the following articles will prove handy:

Do you have other research topics in mind based on the research agenda? Post them below and start a discussion.

10 Pointers from One of the Winners of a Research Paper Contest

How do you write  a competitive research paper? Here are 10 points that can guide you towards realizing your goal to win.

Getting awarded for a research paper I hurriedly prepared within a three-day period is something that confirmed my approach in research writing. Last Thursday, August 14, the paper I wrote based on a nine-month project completed in 2013 garnered the third prize in the 8th Philippine National Health Research System (PNHRS) Contest under the professional category.

During the convention, I learned that a total of 31 entries were submitted from all over the country for a double-blind review by experts in the field of health. And only three research papers made it – mine included. More than 500 participants nationwide coming from the 17 regional health research consortia participated in the event.

A senior colleague and once the university’s Vice-President for Academic Affairs was instrumental to my success as she prodded me to join the contest although I had misgivings because the deadline was three days away. Despite my apprehension, I confidently nodded and said okay. I thought I might be able to glean useful data and information from recently concluded research project on the economic analysis of household adaptation options to climate change.

I summoned all I could muster to at least beat the deadline despite the limited time frame. I reviewed relevant literature and organized my thoughts as I write, guided by the theme of the celebration.

I did this kind of writing before mainly for compliance; but this time, I thought I’d aim to win — for a change. I’m giving research tips in this site and I’d like to put them to work. My intention was, if ever I win the contest, I would share pointers in writing it here. And that will make this site a more credible reference for colleagues and students in writing their research papers.

So here are  the 10 key points that helped me deliver a winning research paper despite the time constraint.

10 Key Points for a Winning Research Paper

1. Assess your capability and stick to the deadline.

Before writing anything, note the deadline of paper submission. Is it still possible for you to figure out a paper before the deadline ends? You have to assess your capability and resources at hand to deliver a paper within the prescribed period.

My typing speed of at least 60 words per minute helped me write the research paper with ease as my hands can cope up with what’s in my mind. That speeds up my composition as every idea that comes to mind rapidly goes on paper in real-time.

I like blogging and I’ve written hundreds of online articles for the past six years; so putting ideas into writing has not really become much of an issue. This is the reason I encourage colleagues to blog. This will hone their writing skills while at the same time earn something if they join free writing sites that pay their bloggers.

Back to the deadline issue, if the deadline is Monday, then by all means, submit your research paper on or before the deadline. Indeed, during the announcement of the winners, the chairman of the board of judges mentioned that research papers submitted beyond the deadline were no longer accepted. I submitted my research paper in the afternoon of the deadline date.

2. Make your research paper relevant to the theme.

I made sure that the paper I submitted adheres to the theme of the convention. The convention’s theme focused on the role of health research in disaster and emergency health management. Thus, I titled my paper “Climate Hazard Effects on Socio-Environmental Health and Adaptation Strategies in Two Coastal Communities in Palawan Island.” That’s about disaster’s effect on the health of marginalized communities and how two communities adapted to climatic threats. The communities explored “soft” and “hard” adaptation strategies to make their communities more resilient to the negative effects of climate change.

3. Keep to the rules. See the contest guidelines.

I followed the contest guidelines in its entirety. There is a prescribed format for writing the research paper as well as in the slide presentation. I followed the IMRaD format using my favorite word processor. The slides must not exceed 10, so I prepared 10 slides; no more, no less.

4. Do the writing in the morning.

I have fun doing my write-up in the morning. My mind works best from 4:30 to 11:30 am. After lunch, my brain goes into a slumber. There’s something in the food that makes me sleepy.

According to Ben Biggs, increased serotonin in the brain as a result of eating heartily is the culprit. To keep my writing momentum, I will either eat a small meal at lunchtime, or… sleep.

In that three-day writing spree, I took the latter approach, taking a one-hour nap after lunch. I’m alive after that brief trip to dreamland.

Surprisingly, I was able to sustain my writing from the usual drowsy 2 pm writing struggle. Somehow, the adrenalin push caused by the nearing deadline counteracted the effect of serotonin. At 4 o’clock, I regain back my writing momentum.

5. Have a good review of recent and relevant literature.

Many of the published literature on climate effects are in scientific journals that I have no access at the time of writing. Unfazed by this constraint, I resorted to online material that are both relevant and recent, and of course, free.

My references on the weather and disasters were obtained from mostly government-operated sites that I could rely on as these are public service sites. I gathered the most relevant ones and kept my writing concise, summarizing each report as succinctly as I could by applying the 5Ws and 1H technical writing strategy.

third place winner
My certificate of recognition and trophy for winning the third prize during the 8th Philippine National Health Research System (PNHRS) week celebration.

6. Adopt the viewpoint of the reader.

I adopted the viewpoint of the one screening the research paper. I have had experience reading and evaluating the work of others so I tried to take the reader’s viewpoint while I read my own paper. This proved to be difficult because I have my biases. But thinking as if I am the judge myself and using the contest’s judgment criteria, I saw critical areas or arguments in my manuscript that need revision.

Asking colleagues would have been better, but the brief period to prepare the research paper would not allow it. I will certainly do this once another opportunity arises.

7. Be particular about your grammar.

In any contest where English is the medium of expression, a non-native English speaker like me has to rely on previous educational training, readings and references. I did good in English during my high school and college days. Further, I developed my writing skills by reading the composition of great writers as well as practicing the trade, mainly, through blogging.

For me, if it sounds right and not really awkward to read, then it’s probably written right. Further, a good word processor can point out obvious grammatical errors. I made good use of it.

8. Use short sentences.

A veteran research writer colleague reminded me once to keep my sentences brief and concise. This simple suggestion helped me all the way in my writing engagements.

Whenever possible, I see to it that each sentence I write contains one idea or a set of ideas that work harmoniously. This writing style simply works.

9. Provide relevant figures and tables.

Remember the adage “A picture is worth a thousand words?” I selected figures, graphs and tables that contribute to the message I want to put across. Just glancing at these complementary sources of information improves the readers’ understanding of the research paper.

Specifically, for the pictures to include in the research paper, show something controversial or intriguing that will spark a discussion. The picture should be socially relevant if the theme is about people.

As for the tables, I adopt three guidelines: 1) limit columns to a maximum of four as much as possible, 2) arrange the title of each column from the most important to the least important information, and 3) provide explanatory notes under the table for better understanding.

10. Direct your mind towards winning.

When I wrote the research paper, I thought of winning the contest. I didn’t try this mindset before. My write ups were not written to compete but just to comply with the minimum requirements for participation. I didn’t enter any contest for lack of a good reason to do so. I just don’t like to compete as a matter of choice.

How did a changed mindset help me write better?

Adopting a winning attitude forced me to bring my talents and creativity to the fore. One of those things that I determined within myself is the idea that I will not settle for anything less as much as possible. I will make my work as perfect as possible if I can afford it. My work should be more than just enough. It should be as excellent as it should, at least in my point of view. So I read and reread the paper many times over.

Of course, the time pressure did not really turn out the best in my research paper as I realized some loopholes when I read it again and when the panel of judges were asking questions. But during the time of writing, the composition was the best I could muster. And it worked, because it passed the initial screening. The research paper made it to the six finalists out of 31 submitted for review.

A proper mindset allows you to harness your talents and creativity. Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck argues that people with a growth mindset see their qualities as things that can be developed through years of passionate practice and learning. And I believe I just did that.

Finally, connecting ourselves to the Supreme Being and having a noble purpose matters. All these things will not happen without blessings from the One who made it all possible. To Him all glory and honor return. After all, this toil is geared towards the betterment of humanity.

Try these tips and see how you perform. Or if you are a winner yourself, posting your thoughts below will be of great help to research writers.

© 2014 August 17 P. A. Regoniel

Negative Externalities of Fumigation in Poultry and Piggery Operations

What is a negative externality? Appreciate the importance of knowing and understanding externality, an environmental economics concept, by reading this article.

In environmental economics, one of the interesting and useful concepts discussed is externality. And I was reminded of this concept when I took a trip, together with friends and family, to Kitu-Kito. It is an ideal spot to spend quiet time or to commune with nature . The place can be accessed within 30-minutes of leisurely driving from the City of Puerto Princesa.

It’s a holiday so we thought of having a picnic on board a raft made of large PVC pipes that a motorized boat tows along a river towards the open, deeper parts of Honda Bay. We did a similar trip several months back—but without the flies.

Why so Many Flies?

What reminded me of the externality concept? Well, I noticed an unusually large number of flies swarming at our food. We have to keep the food containers closed.

I asked why there are so many flies that day. The pests somewhat curbed our appetite because we all know that flies are harbingers of many kinds of diseases.

According to Penn State University (2014), flies transmit at least 65 diseases to humans. Flies leave pathogenic organisms in excretions upon alighting on food.

This is disturbing as this would mean that we might ingest contaminated food because of flies landing on our meal and doing their nasty behavior of regurgitating or excreting things that we don’t want. Getting ill means lost work hours or lost opportunity to do other important things.

flies on plate
Flies on plate after lunch.

Just curious what could have caused this large number of flies to come and pester us, I asked the group if anyone knows why. Then our boatman said, “This happens every time those guys operating the poultry and piggery in the upland spray fumigants to get their farm rid of flies.

“Ah, that’s an excellent answer to my question. ” I nodded indicating my enlightenment. Everybody new to the place sure learned something that day.

Negative Externality of Fumigation

Flies pestering our meals is a negative externality of fumigation.

The externality in the foregoing short narrative are flies swarming the neighborhood when fumigants are in effect. They were not killed on the spot but escaped from the poultry and piggery farms. Their eggs and larvae must have been killed but the adults are scot-free—and posed danger to neighboring houses and, us, picknickers.

The escaping flies that potentially bring diseases with them is a side effect of fumigation in the poultry and piggery farms. This is a negative externality that is not reflected in the cost of services involved in the operation of the farms.

To internalize the externality or to correct the inequality in benefits as a result of the operation, the poultry and piggery farm owners should pay parties affected by their activities. They should pay us for lessened enjoyment of the sea scape and the cool breeze because we have to contend with the flies that pester our meals.

How much should they pay us? This concern requires the conduct of a study. If we complain about the negative effects of the poultry farm, we should show the link between their operation and the unusual number of flies that affect third parties like us. Also, the owner of the farms should ask us and the neighborhood how much we are willing to accept as compensation for the nuisance.

Read more about externality in the following article:

Externalities: the Mango Grower and the Beekeeper

References

Pennsylvania State University, 2014. House flies. Retrieved June 21, 2014, from http://ento.psu.edu/extension/factsheets/house-flies

© 2014 June 21 P. A. Regoniel

Mango Pulp Weevil: A Pest Control Problem in Palawan Island

This article describes the mango pulp weevil (MPW), Sternochetus frigidus, introduced to Palawan province and discovered in 1987.  The weevil still lingers as a pest control problem that prevents local mango farmers from exporting their agricultural produce in other places. Find out how the MPW looks like and where it grows. A video is included to show how this pest behaves when disturbed and how fast it can move.

Research still has to find a long-term remedy to the problem of mango pulp weevil (Sternochetus frigidus) infestation in the province of Palawan in the Philippines where the world-renowned underground river is found.  Pest control approaches by farmers have so far been unable to eradicate the pest at source which finds the edible fleshy part of the mango as its favorite breeding place. Hence, the name mango pulp weevil or MPW.

The weevil damages a part of the mango pulp thus reduce the quality of the fruit. For more than two decades, mango growers were unable to export their agricultural produce because the mango pulp weevil will threaten the mango industry in other places.

A post-harvest pest control approach done so far to control the mango pulp weevil include irradiation as quarantine treatment (Padilla 2012). This approach appears to be more economical compared to other post-harvest pest control treatments such as the application of heat and fumigation. Local farmers also apply hit-and-miss approaches to control the weevil at source.

Morphology of the Mango Pulp Weevil

How do these pests look like? Below are pictures of the mango pulp weevil.

mango pulp weevil
Mango pulp weevil (Sternochetus frigidus) infesting mangoes in Palawan Island.

These are two of the four MPWs I have found yesterday upon slicing several fruits from our homegrown mango trees. I can feel that they have a hard texture as I turn them around for the right angles to take photos. The insect is quite small (6mm x 4mm) but switching my Panasonic Lumix LX5 to macro mode enabled me to take extreme close up shots at a distance of less than one centimeter.

Overall, MPWs have dominant brown color at the underside and an orange dorsal region mottled with dark, charcoal black bands across the pitted wings. Also, the wings have rough tiny keratinous projections that probably aid them in burrowing through the soft pulp upon maturity. The long snout has two antenna with rounded tips.

Behavior of the Mango Pulp Weevil

The two samples in the pictures shown previously were found in just one mango fruit, occupying about two centimeters of the pulp next to the seed. Initially, I thought there was only one but upon closer look, another weevil with neatly folded legs sprang to life after a minute or two.

Below is a video of how fast these pests could walk about. If given the chance, they will fly within a few minutes and enter into a state of suspended animation or diapause. Weevils do not fly great distances but usually stay close to the parent tree until the next fruiting season (Gove et al. 2007).

Consumers in Palawan can still eat at least half of the mangoes because only one side of the fruit is affected. An alternative way of consuming infested fruits is to flesh out the mango pulp and dry it (dried mangoes). The affected area is normally about 3 cm in diameter.

Preventive Measures to Control the Pest

I have not been so keen before on the presence of the mango pulp weevil in the three mango trees we have in our yard. My friend, a City Agriculturist, remarked that I should do something about the mango fruits that fall when ripe as this will infect other healthy mango trees.

Based on her remark and on the readings I made in writing this article, I recommend that the following measures should be made by consumers or mango owners.

  1. Harvest mango fruits as soon as these are mature.
  2. Remove all fallen fruits and destroy pests in infested fruit. Damaged fruits should be buried at least half a meter below the ground to prevent the weevil from completing its life cycle (Catindig and Heong 2005).
  3. Kill the pest right away when found in mango consumed.
  4. Report to authorities illegal shipments of mango from infested sources.
  5. Undertake indigenous ways to control weevil infestation such as natural fumigation or bagging using newspapers or similar material.

For researchers, studying local farmers’ practices in controlling mango pulp weevil infestation can help minimize costs associated with pest control specifically the use of synthetic pesticides. Comparing the efficacy of such practices will help identify low-cost techniques or approaches that will reduce, if not eradicate the mango pulp weevil problem.

Natural pest control measures such as breeding ants that feed on the mango weevil (Renkang and Christian 2007) may also be explored. Are there ants species in Palawan that can qualify as weevil predators? This ecosystem approach, particularly looking at the food web interactions, may be the more viable pest control option.

Is Banning Mango Export the Answer?

While banning the exportation of mango fruits from Palawan will prevent pest outbreak in other places, this caused a great loss to mango farmers in the province. Other efficient ways to control the pest must be considered or its economic impact be examined further.

Moreover, despite the infestation, it seems that only a small percentage of the mango fruits are affected. Without pesticide use, out of 300 mangoes that we have harvested at home, we found only less than 10 fruits with MPW in it. That’s only three percent.

An economic analysis may be done to look at the actual damage caused by this pest. Banning fruit exportation may not really be the answer. Rather, an effective quarantine measure should be applied.

References

Catindig, J. L. A. and K. L. Heong, 2005. Description of mango pulp weevil. Retrieved on May 27, 2014 from http://www.niaes.affrc.go.jp/techdoc/apasd/Sternochetus%20frigidus%20-B.html

Gove, T.; Joubert; J. P.; and M. S. de Beer; 2007. Literature review on mango seed weevil Sternochetus mangiferae (Fabricius) (Coleoptera: Curculionidae). SA Mango Growers’ Association Research Journal 27, 21-28.

Padilla, L. D. E., 2012. Saving the Phl Super Mango export industry from pulp weevil infestation through irradiation. Retrieved on May 27, 2014 from http://www.bar.gov.ph/digest-home/digest-archives/365-2012-1st-quarter/2055-janmar2012-phl-super-mango-export-industry

RenKang, P. and K.  Christian, 2007. The effect of the weaver ant, Oecophylla smaragdina (Hymenoptera: Formicidae), on the mango seed weevil, Sternochetus mangiferae (Coleoptera: Curculionidae), in mango orchards in the Northern Territory of Australia. International Journal of Pest Management, 53(1):15-24.

© 2014 May 27 P. A. Regoniel

4 Elements of a Good Abstract

How do you write a good abstract? Here are four elements of a good abstract.

Abstracts are important references for scientists or students working on their research proposal; particularly, in preparing their review of literature.  The abstract describes an unpublished or published research study in capsule form. It is a brief overview of the investigation so that researchers are able to comprehend the content of the research quickly.

The information provided in the abstract must be sufficient to help the researcher decide whether the work is relevant to his interest or not. It should be brief but not lacking in important elements necessary for understanding of the research conducted. The abstract will also help the researcher decide whether to read the research paper in its entirety or not.

So how should the abstract of a research paper be written so that maximum benefit is derived from it?

Four Elements of a Good Abstract

Specifically, you should write the abstract to meet its intended purpose. The abstract should:

  1. state clearly the objectives of the study;
  2. concisely describe the methodology or method employed in gathering the data, processing, and analysis;
  3. summarize the results, and
  4. state the principal conclusions of the research.

Generally, an informational abstract should give a brief summary of the main sections of the research paper, i.e., the introduction, the materials and/or methods used, the findings, discussion, conclusions, and recommendations.

In some academic institutions or scientific journals, however, recommendations are not incorporated in the abstract. That is because anyone can make recommendations based on the conclusion/s of the study.

The conclusion, in particular, should be given attention in writing the abstract. The conclusion should be well supported by the findings of the investigation; not a sweeping statement without any valid argument based on the findings to back it up. This is what really matters to the researcher trying to find gaps in knowledge that he can fill in.

Number of Words

Normally, abstracts should not exceed 250 words but this number could vary depending on the prescribed number of words, say, when you would like to submit your research paper to a popular scientific journal. Brevity is emphasized.

The limited number of words required for the abstract means that every word included in the abstract is necessary and that this should be presented in a coherent manner.  Important information should fit into one paragraph so this requires a little bit of thinking challenge and practice to the beginning researcher.

Tense of the Abstract

In what tense should the abstract be written?

The abstract should be written in the past tense because the investigation has transpired. However, statement of facts in, say, the results and discussion and the conclusion, must be in the present tense.

Finally, the references (e.g. name of author and date) should not be cited in the abstract unless the research paper involves an improvement or modification of a previously published method used by a researcher.

For more information and tips in writing the abstract of your research paper, visit the online writing lab of Purdue University.

©Patrick A. Regoniel 19 May 2014