Tag Archives: technical writing

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Outdated references in the libraryRecent literature accessible online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/

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

Cite this article as: Regoniel, Patrick A. (June 12, 2015). Five Tips on How to Write a Conclusion. In SimplyEducate.Me. Retrieved from http://simplyeducate.me/2015/06/12/five-tips-on-how-to-write-a-conclusion/

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

Method and Methodology: The Difference

This article explains the difference between method and methodology. These two terms are often interchanged although they mean different things. Read on to distinguish one from the other. Examples are provided to clarify the issue.

In writing the third chapter of the thesis or the methodology section, beginning researchers often confuse method with the methodology. Ironically, some of those students who have finished their undergraduate thesis still could not discern the difference between the two words. Some just say that they mean the same thing. Is this pronouncement correct?

Difference Between Method and Methodology

Looking carefully at the two words, notice that the method is a root word of methodology. Common sense prescribes that the method is just a part of the methodology. Logic dictates that the method gets defined first. What then is a method?

The “method” described in this discussion refers particularly to “research methods.” Research methods are the tools, processes, or ways by which researchers obtain data.

How are data obtained then?

method of projection
Time series analysis?

In social science research, the data gathered for analysis by researchers are obtained using interview, focus group discussion, participant observation, survey, among others. In the natural sciences, data may be obtained using various techniques. For example, an ecologist might want to mark and recapture animals for population studies. A taxonomist might wish to count the scales of fish to distinguish one species from another (morphometrics). A geologist might want to measure the size of soil particles. Or a botanist might want to identify and count all trees in a quadrat. All of these activities refer to methods.

On the other hand, methodology still refers to method but with an extra “ology” at the end of the word. Ology means a discipline of study or branch of knowledge. Therefore, methodology as a combination of ology and method is essentially a study of methods.

Now, methodology suggests that there is a need to study research methods. In writing a thesis or research, it is important to consider what methods are appropriate.

How then shall you know which method to use in your particular study? The answer is simple. You just have to get back to the very reason you embarked on the study.

Where should you look for it?

Of course, the ultimate guide in your research journey is the very reason you are conducting that study. What for is the study? What are its objectives?

These questions are easily answered by simply going back to your first chapter or introduction and reading what you have written in your problem statements or objectives. The first question will be replied to by the first method you will use to satisfy its information requirements. The first method may also answer the next question, or there may be a need for you to devise or find another method.

For example, here are problem statements and the corresponding methods to be used:

Statement of the Problem
Method
1. What is the profile of the respondents in terms of age, gender, and educational attainment?1. Questionnaire
2. What is the level of awareness of the community on coastal ordinances?2. Focus group discussion
3. What infrastructures are indicators of the community’s adaptation to soil erosion?3. Photo-documentation, video footages
4. What is the distribution range of the monkey population?4. Remote sensing
5. Is there a significant difference between blood pressure before and after exercise?5. Blood pressure readings using a sphygmomanometer

Having listed the methods in the above table, you should justify why you used such methods and the guiding principles for using those methods. Describe in detail how the methods will be used to answer the questions you have posed in your study. A suitable method can be replicated or repeated in a similar way. This means that you will have to:

1. define your assumptions,
2. state where you will conduct your study and why you chose that site,
3. determine the specific members of the population and decide how many of them will be involved,
4. specify what statistical tests will have to be applied,
5. describe what procedure or procedures you will take to gather the data, and
6. identify the materials to be used, among others.

The whole thing pertains to your methodology.

If you have written the methodology in such a manner that the reader understands the why and how of your chosen methods, then you have succeeded in writing the third chapter. The rest of the paper should reflect the application of the research methodology.

References

Cram, F. (2013). Method or methodology, what’s the difference? Retrieved 11 February 2015 from http://whanauoraresearch.co.nz/news/method-or-methodology-whats-the-difference/

Gabriel, D. (2011). Methods and methodology. Retrieved 11 February 2015 from http://deborahgabriel.com/2011/05/13/methods-and-methodology/

©2015 February 15 P. A. Regoniel

Cite this article as: Regoniel, Patrick A. (February 15, 2015). Method and Methodology: The Difference. In SimplyEducate.Me. Retrieved from http://simplyeducate.me/2015/02/15/method-methodology-difference/

The Role and Importance of Writing Prompts

This article explains the role of writing prompts, and in what ways this can be applied. If you are a writing teacher, the article below will prove helpful in honing the writing skills of your students.

Should writing prompts be used or not? With the advent of technology and globalization, the idea of writing across the curriculum becomes popular. However, it becomes difficult for teachers to design writing prompts for students in the content-based language instruction.

Writing prompts are guides that stimulate learners to write. It may be an open-ended sentence, a question, a topic, or a scenario that generates writing. It can also be used for children and adult learners.

Writing prompts are used as a tool in order to groom the writing style of students. Prompts are actually the foundation for writing that most students do in their academic career, such as essays and research papers.

The prompt must be authentic. An example of an authentic prompt is RAFTS prompt which aims to make writing more authentic. In this prompt, students are asked to think and write from a real world person’s perspective. It also makes students think at a much deeper level of Bloom’s Taxonomy.

Now, in which respect can writing prompts be used? It can be used for written assignments. According to Nunan (2009), written assignments must be carefully constructed to assure their success and their contribution to promoting the goals of the course.

There are six guidelines for the preparation of successful writing assignments (adapted from Reid and Kroll 1995) that prove helpful in reviewing the efficacy of any given assignment.

6 Guidelines for Successful Writing Assignments

First, a writing assignment should be presented with its context clearly delineated such that the student understands the reasons for the assignment.

Second, the context of the task/topic should be accessible to the writers and allow for multiple approaches.

Third, the language of the prompt or task and the instructions it is embedded in should be un–ambiguous, comprehensible, and transparent.

Fourth, the task should be focused enough to allow for completion in the time or length constraints given and should further students’ knowledge of classroom content and skills.

Next, the rhetorical specifications (cues) should provide a clear direction of likely shape and format of the finished assignment, including appropriate references to an anticipated audience.

And lastly, the evaluation criteria should be identified so that students will know in advance how their output will be judged.

Following the guidelines above can make students more engaged in the completion of their writing tasks. Thus, a great deal of thoughts must go into crafting an authentic writing prompts for the students.

References

Kroll, B. (2006). Teaching english as a second language of foreign language. (3rd ed.) (M.C. Murcia, ed.). Philippines: Cengage Learning Asia Pte Ltd.

Nunan, D. (2009). Second language teaching and learning. Philippines: Cengage Learning Asia Pte Ltd.

McCallister, C. (2004). Writing education practices within the reconceptualized curriculum.

An encyclopedia for parents and teachers, ed. J.L. kincheloe and D. Weil, CT: Greenwood Press.

© 2015 February 13 M. G. Alvior

Two Tips on How to Write the Significance of the Study

In writing the introduction of a thesis, a section is devoted to the significance of the study. This article discusses how to write this section and provides an example to illustrate the technique.

Essentially, the section on significance of the study provides information to the reader on how the study will contribute. It must be specifically stated, however, what the study will contribute and who will benefit from it.

You can figure out several important contributions of your research paper if you let your mind flow. But I find the following tips helpful in writing the significance of the study.

2 Tips in Writing the Significance of the Study

1. Refer to the statement of the problem

Your problem statement can guide you in identifying the specific contribution of your study. You can do this by observing a one-to-one correspondence between the statement of the problem and the significance of the study.

For example, if you ask the question “Is there a significant relationship between the teacher’s teaching style and the students’ long quiz scores in Mathematics?” then the contribution of your research would probably be a teaching style or styles (among say, three teaching styles you evaluated) that can help students perform better in Mathematics. Your research will demonstrate that that teaching style really works. That could be a groundbreaking approach that will change the way teachers teach Mathematics which many students abhor.

interdisciplinary

2. Write from general to specific contribution

I learned this technique from a former professor while in pursuing my masters degree. It works this way:

Write the significance of the study by looking into the general contribution of your study, such as its importance to society as a whole, then proceed downwards—towards its contribution to individuals and that may include yourself as a researcher. You start off broadly then taper off gradually to a specific group or person.

Coupled with reference to the problem statement, this effectively stimulates the mind to think in a deductive mode, i.e., from general to specific. This writing approach is similar to the Inverted Pyramid Approach discussed in How to Write a Good Thesis Introduction.

For example, in the study on teaching style given in #1, you may write:

significance of the study
Example significance of the study.

These two techniques will prevent your mind from wandering wildly or aimlessly as you explore the significance of your study. Applying them will save time thus allow you to focus on the next section of your thesis. Who knows, this section may also help justify why your study deserves a grant.

©2015 February 9 P. A. Regoniel

Cite this article as: Regoniel, Patrick A. (February 9, 2015). Two Tips on How to Write the Significance of the Study. In SimplyEducate.Me. Retrieved from http://simplyeducate.me/2015/02/09/two-tips-on-how-to-write-the-significance-of-the-study/

Writing a Literature Review: Evaluating Websites as Reliable Sources of Information

Writing a literature review is a tedious task unless you apply a systematic approach to it. But first, you must get back to the very reason why you are writing the literature review to appreciate its role in completing your research paper or thesis.

Since the internet is a great source of information and is nowadays a common destination for researchers who want to access the latest information as quickly as possible, care must be exerted in selecting research papers that will help you build your thesis.

This article gets back to the definition of the literature review as a take-off point towards being choosy in using easily accessible websites as sources of information in developing a thesis.

Literature Review Defined

A literature review is a critical description of the literature pertaining to the research topic that you as a researcher chose to work on as part of your thesis proposal or research paper. Emphasis is given to the word “critical.” This implies that you have read a great deal of literature such that you are able to see clearly the issue at hand and make an informed assessment.

Reading a great deal does not mean that you will just read any literature that comes your way. This means that you have read literature that are backed up by evidence, meaning, scientific papers or articles that are found in peer-reviewed journals or reliable sources. Reliable sources ensure that you have a good foundation in making a thoughtful position embodied in your thesis statement.

Selecting Literature from Websites

You must be careful in selecting the literature from websites that will be part of your review because of the preponderance of “scientific” journals that take advantage of unsuspecting researchers looking for a platform to publish their findings in open access journals. To prevent being victimized, evaluate your sources for reliability.

internet sources
Source: http://xkcd.com/386/

Jeffrey Beal, a librarian at the University of Colorado, took time to list questionable open-access journals. If you have been invited to publish in these journals or serve as editor or member of the board, think twice. Browse the site and evaluate the quality of the articles posted. Poor grammar, wrong spelling, or garbled information are tell-tale signs of predatory journals.

It is easy to be misled as everybody can easily access a large body of literature using the internet. You must therefore adopt a prudent attitude in selecting literature from websites that will help you develop a good thesis statement. As open-access journals become popular sources of scientific literature, a good researcher must develop a keen eye in selecting the wheat from the chaff.

©2015 January 30 P. A. Regoniel

Use of RAFTS Prompt in Rhetorical Context and Writing Traits in CBLI

This article highlights the result of a research on the the effectiveness of the RAFTS prompt. RAFTS stands for role, audience, format, topic and strong verb, in order to make writing assignments more enjoyable and fulfilling to the students.

With the implementation of Content-Based Language Instruction (CBLI) in Palawan State University, English teachers found content-based lessons difficult to prepare. Writing in particular requires collaboration among teachers to provide students meaningful writing tasks. However, it has been observed that students have writing difficulties. They have poor writing traits. Also, they can hardly address the rhetorical context or the situation that surrounds their act of writing.

It is in this line of thought that the researcher embarked on an action research. The study aimed to determine the effectiveness of RAFTS prompt in addressing the rhetorical context and in improving the writing traits of students.

Specifically, this study sought to answer the following questions:

  1. Did the scores of students improve after using the RAFTS prompt in addressing the rhetorical context?,
  2. Was the use of intervention effective in improving the writing traits of students?,
  3. In what manner, did the intervention become effective? And less effective?, and
  4. Was there a significant relationship between the students’ scores in their writing traits and in their mid-term grades?

The researcher used purposive sampling in selecting the participants of the study because this is a classroom-based research. The sample consisted of 40 freshmen from the Department of Computer Science.

Data were gathered from the written works of students and scored using rubrics taken from the official website of the Nevada Writing Project. Further, the researcher used t-test and Pearson r for the analysis of data.

She also used written feedbacks and interviews to reflect better on the effectiveness of RAFTS prompt in content-based language instruction.

It was found out that RAFTS prompt was very effective in addressing the rhetorical context. The result of t-test for related samples using SPSS v10 indicated a significant p-value of 0.000. However, RAFTS prompt was not effective in improving the writing traits of students (p-value = 0.083).

In view of the findings, RAFTS prompt can only be effective in addressing the rhetorical context. The students can assume roles that they need to portray in writing. They can also write to a given audience, follow the format, develop a topic, and use strong verbs.

However, RAFTS prompt alone cannot improve their writing traits. If they are poor in grammar, spelling, transitions, accuracy, fluency, word choice and others, these mistakes can be repeated in their written works. This scenario implies that RAFTS prompt is a writing technique in the pre-writing stage.

In addition, there must be more writing strategies to employ in order to develop the writing traits. Teachers should focus not only on the context but most importantly to the language, tasks and evaluation criteria in order to improve the writing traits of students.

Thus, it is recommended that another action research be undertaken to determine the effectiveness of connecting the writing traits to RAFTS prompt in the writing stage.

References

Kroll, B. (2006). Teaching english as a second language of foreign language. (3rd ed.) (M.C. Murcia, ed.). Philippines: Cengage Learning Asia Pte Ltd.

McCallister, C. (2004). Writing education practices within the reconceptualized curriculum.

Northern Nevada Writing Project at http://writingfix.com

Nunan, D. (2009). Second language teaching and learning. Philippines: Cengage Learning Asia Pte Ltd.

Slagle, P. (1997). Getting real: authenticity in writing prompts. Quarterly. vol.19, no.3. Retrieved from www.scribd.com An encyclopedia for parents and teachers, ed. J.L. kincheloe and D. Weil, CT: Greenwood Press.

© 2015 January 14 M. G. Alvior

Reflective Journal: A Sample of Professional Development Plan

This article illustrates how you can plan for your professional development as a teacher. A reflective journal being featured is a result of a research finding. Read the steps and a sample on how you can use this professional activity to advance yourself professionally.

Steps in Using the Reflective Journal

If you are a teacher, and would want to use a reflective journal as your professional activity for self-direction, here are steps you can follow:

  1. Have a notebook and a ball pen for the journal;
  2. Think of a particular problem that you have, for example, a pronunciation problem;
  3. Identify the reasons why that problem exists;
  4. Look for strategies or activities that can improve your pronunciation skill such as listening to native speaker or to someone who is good at pronouncing words, using a speech laboratory or imitating and producing the sounds correctly, using audio and video tape analysis, among others;
  5. Use or apply the pronunciation activity/ies chosen; and
  6. Evaluate or assess your progress or improvement in pronunciation.

Sample Plan of Professional Development using Reflective Journal

Now, take a look at this sample.

Date: January 19, 2011

Topic: Improving My Pronunciation Skill

Questions to Ponder:

  1. What are the words I cannot pronounce well?
  2. How did I know that I mispronounced them?
  3. How would I correct my pronunciation?
  4. What do I need in order to improve my pronunciation? Should I listen to a friend who is good at pronunciation or would I go to a speech laboratory in order to hear how I produced the sounds and check them there?
  5. Are the strategies effective in improving my pronunciation? What are the indicators that my pronunciation skill has improved? What assessment tools should I utilize?

Reflections:

In this part, you may now reflect as to how you progress in your activities. You may also indicate the effectiveness of reflective journal as a self-directed professional development activity.

With the example given, the teacher may start writing a journal using the suggested format below:

Date:

Topic:

Questions to ponder on:

Reflections:

Since you already have an idea on how to write a reflective journal, you may start planning for it. For example, you may talk to your principal or department head that you would like to engage in this activity by writing a weekly journal for a period of 3 months. Or, you can have it daily for a longer period of time, say 6 months or one year. But your plan should be realistic. Just do only what you can do without giving yourself much pressure.

This activity can give you more benefits. Aside from helping yourself, you can also make this as your action research. So, try this professional development activity soonest and see the results!

© 2015 January 12 M. G. Alvior

How to Write the Literature Review: 4 Steps

For many students, writing the literature review is one of the most time consuming and mind-boggling part of thesis writing. However, this should not cause anybody to lose confidence or enthusiasm as there are ways by which the literature review could be written without much pain. If you know what you are doing, then the task becomes easier.

This article deciphers existing tips on how to write the literature review in order to be more systematic about it. Here’s a step by step guide on how to get started.

4 Steps on How to Write the Literature Review

Step 1. Rewrite the article to summarize the salient points.

After you have gathered the necessary literature related to the topic you have chosen to do research on, the next step is to write the literature review. This is quite a challenge, as you will have to rewrite, in your own words, the scientific articles that you have read. The important findings of an article can be described in a paragraph of a few sentences.

What information will you include in the description of other researchers’ work? Essentially, the paragraph should contain the following:

  • The author(s) and date when the article was published;
  • What the authors did (the method);
  • The variables they examined or manipulated;
  • A short description of the major findings; and
  • A brief explanation of relationships, trends, or differences between variables.
  • Here’s an example:

    Regoniel et al. (2013) examined the adaptation options of stakeholders to typhoons in two coastal communities, one directly exposed to the open sea while the other is buffered from strong winds by islets near the coast. The coastal residents in the community directly exposed to strong typhoons built concrete breakwater to mitigate the effects of storm surges and strong waves. On the other hand, the other community opted to reforest the mangroves along the coastline.

    Apparently, the intensity of typhoons caused the difference in response to typhoons, one group opted a quick fix by putting up a breakwater while the other chose mangrove reforestation as a long-term strategy because there is no immediate need to reduce the impact of typhoons.

    Step 2. Decide on how the paragraphs should be arranged.

    Which article description should go first? Some researchers arrange by topic or theme while others prefer to arrange using the set of questions posed in the introduction, specifically, according to how the problem statements are arranged. The latter appears to be more effective as the reader is oriented on the issue or concern.

    The literature review serves as an attempt to answer the questions posed in the early part of the research paper, but of course, it is unable to do so because the review should 1) point out the “gap” in knowledge, 2) show the insufficiency of current literature to resolve or convincingly explain the phenomenon in question, or 3) merely describe what attempts have been done so far to explain the phenomenon.

    Step 3. Link the paragraphs.

    The next step is to link together the different paragraphs using introductory statements before the paragraph and end with concluding statements. You may add transition paragraphs in between the descriptions of studies to facilitate the flow of ideas.

    Step 4. Write your opening and closing paragraphs.

    At the beginning of the Literature Review section, add a paragraph that explains the content of the whole write-up. This will serve as the reader’s guide on what he expects to read in the review. End with another paragraph that briefly summarizes the evidences that support the thesis of the research paper.

    Writing the literature may be difficult at first, but with careful planning, practice and diligence, you can come up with a good one. Once you’re done with your literature review, more than half of your thesis writing task is already done.

    Reference

    Ashton, W. (2015). Writing a Short Literature Review. Retrieved on January 6, 2015 from http://www.ithacalibrary.com/sp/assets/users/_lchabot/lit_rev_eg.pdf

    ©2015 January 6 P. A. Regoniel