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Research

How to Publish a Math/Science Article or Book at Amazon for Free. No need for Scientific Journals Anymore!

In recent days I published three scientific books on Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing Program.

My books contain complex formulas, and yet I succeeded after much trying to find a way to publish them both as a paperback and as e-books, yes, with formulas. I want you to know how to do it, too.

The Statistics or Why We Don’t Need Scientific Journals Anymore

According to this list, , the world’s highest impact factor math journal (more precisely, most top “SJR” metrics) is the Journal of the American Mathematical Society (JAMS). It has 3.93 cites per document (is it cites for two years or one year measured during two years? Unsure). There are journals with even higher cites (Mathematical Programming, Series B is 4.20 per document), but let’s consider this JAMS as the world’s most prestigious math journal (as it’s much above, for example, more famous than Mathematische Annalen in this list).

Does it make sense to publish in this journal? Yes, even in this world’s highest impact math journal, not speaking about weaker journals?

Consider further statistics: Accordingly, this graph published at researchtrends.com, readers, has just 0.59 of citations. (Yes, people cite more often than they read :-).)

3.93 x 0.59 = 2.31 readers per article of this journal per year.

It’s tears. The e-book I published less than 30 days ago was purchased three times on Amazon last month (not last year!) So the conclusion: Self-publishing on Amazon one gets far more readers than even the world’s most prestigious scientific journals.

Somebody may claim that my readership quality is bad. Surely, no: No housewife or carpenter would buy my e-book titled Algebraic General Topology. Volume 1, ever. So my readers are mathematicians.

Well, if your research field is really specialized, Amazon may be worse for you. There is no specialized topic like “Relationships between funcoids and reloids” on Amazon. (Just kidding, there is no such peer reviewed journal, too.) But if your topic is as wide as calculus or general topology, Amazon is perfect for you.

Advantages of Amazon

Why publish in a prestigious journal? Publishing instead on Amazon we have several advantages:

  • You publish whatever you want, with no scientific reviewers.
  • Review time is max 72 hours (really much faster).
  • You get more readers, maybe tens times more!
  • You can set your price to zero (self-made open access) or non-zero (the author gets the money, not our enemies!)
    • You can even set the price to non-zero initially and change it to zero any time later if you happen to have enough money.
  • The maximum allowed e-book price at Amazon is $9.99, several times lower than big publishers want from poor people of the future. For paper books, you set any amount you wish to (starting from as little as about $2.15 if you do not need profit).
  • You can (especially if your price is non-zero) set a Web site and advertise it with SEO, mailing lists, etc. You sell more books while possibly getting a profit.

I know exactly one case if it’s better for you to choose an official journal:

  • If your religion happened to be the same as the religion of your government and therefore, it wants to pay you money called “professor title.”

Otherwise publish on Amazon. Nothing prevents you to publish at arXiv, too.

Technical Details of How to Publish

It remains only to explain how to accomplish publication technically, and it’s my main trick I’ve learned recently:

If your article is MS Word or LibreOffice format as my book, it’s very easy: publish your .doc file. No need to explain how to use Kindle Direct Publishing, as it’s quite easy.

This way you publish both a paperback and an e-book.

But what if you need complex formulas that Word would not allow?

You have two options:

  1. Use TeXmacs. It is a wonderful scriptable program that allows writing complex scientific texts without LaTeX. After you finished to write your text, convert it to HTML. I was forced to use the mode with “formulas as images” (see TeXmacs preferences) because otherwise, it once generated an empty file for me instead of an HTML file – even if the created file is non-empty, the formulas display wrongly in the Kindle reader. So use the mode with “formulas as images.” When saving HTML with images, don’t forget to create an empty directory; otherwise the .png files pollute some existing directory on your computer. Also, note that for a long time, TeXmacs HTML export may take quite a lot of time. Configure TeXmacs (“Edit” / “Preferences” / “Convert”) to export HTML (“Html” tab) with formulas as images and set image resolution (“Image” tab) in conversion to 300 DPI (300 DPI is an Amazon requirement). Next, chdir to that directory (required!) and run a command (so it looks on Unix) like this:
mkdir -p tmp/limit texmacs -c article.tm tmp/limit/index.html -q
(cd tmp/limit && pandoc -f html -t epub -o ../../article.epub index.html)
ebook-polish -i -u article.epub article_polished.epub

Now you have an EPUB file article_polished.epub. Create the paper book in the usual way (upload a PDF file), but upload this .epub for the Kindle e-book.

Voila! You have an ebook with formulas. The formatting is not quite perfect, but readable. An important note: Don’t use long (TeXmacs or LaTeX) inline formulas, they are not split into several lines in the resulting .epub but instead decrease in size if not fit the page width, making it hard to read. You can use multline or align or whatever AMSMath formula environments instead.

Some notes:

  • ebook-polish -i -u decreases the file size (and thus Amazon delivery cost).
  • The resulting file article_polished.epub had mostly right (not too small, like it was when I used the original article.epub instead of article_polished.epub) formula sizes. I am not sure why: Probably, ebook-polish -i -u by an incident corrected the errors. Probably, Amazon changed their site software in the meantime. Anyway, it is not important why this last variant does work. It’s important that now we know a variant that does work.
  • When I tried to use docx instead of epub, it produced a file unreadable with the Amazon site’s Kindle reader (apparently that reader has a bug). Not important for us now, as we can use .epub and ebook-polish to get good results.

2. You need to use LaTeX. Easy! Import the .tex file in TeXmacs (or even easier, replace in the commands above article.tm by article.tex, so simple) and next it is the same as the variant 1. Surprisingly, TeXmacs imports LaTeX files rather well (however, there are some problems: for example, some diagrams may be missing). There are some problems, but even my complex math book with my custom styles does work with only little glitches!

Examples of publications

Now allow me to speak about my own publications done this way:

  1. Algebraic General Topology. Volume 1. Edition 1 (paperback, e-book, homepage). Away with old bad topological spaces, we now have something better: funcoids and reloids (algebraic general topology generalization). This reads like a study book for beginning students.
  2. Axiomatic Theory of Formulas: Algebraic Theory of Formulas. Edition 1 (paperback, e-book, homepage). Mathematicians studied everything except for formulas. Now we have an axiomatic, algebraic theory of formulas. This book is for mathematicians and programmers.
  3. Limit of a Discontinuous Function: a Generalization for the Arbitrary Case (paperback, e-book, homepage). You know that there is no limit to the discontinuous function. Just a moment, there is also no root of -1, right? There is likewise a generalized limit of an arbitrary function. Now we can easily define the derivative of an arbitrary function and integral of arbitrary function! The values of limits of discontinuous functions are kinda infinities (“singularities”). I consider in this book also how to define differential equations with singular solutions. What is in the center of a black hole?
😦

The last book in the above list is really just a short article. After choosing the smallest Amazon paper size, I made it 31 pages book while the smallest allowed book is 24 pages. So even shorter articles could not be published on Amazon Authors, just bundle.

Get down, scientific journals. Yahoo! We have Amazon.

Cite this article as: porton (January 26, 2020). How to Publish a Math/Science Article or Book at Amazon for Free. No need for Scientific Journals Anymore! [Blog Post]. In SimplyEducate.Me. Retrieved from https://simplyeducate.me/2020/01/26/scientific-publishing/
Categories
Research

When to Stop Searching the Literature: Three Tips

When do you stop searching the literature? This article provides three tips to help you decide whether to go on searching the literature or not on your research topic.

1. Stop searching the literature when literature contents are repetitive

As it is common nowadays to use online databases, you may stop searching the literature once the same articles appear even when you vary your keywords on a particular topic. You can be confident that whatever you have missed may not matter that much.

Examples of online databases to explore include the following: Google Scholar, Scopus, Directory of Open Access Journals, ProQuest, African Journals Online, arXiv, BioOne, among others. Wikipedia lists an extensive collection of academic databases for free or via subscription.

My personal experience in using Google Scholar showed relevant articles for my chosen topic in the first 20-30 titles or links. Reading the meta description for each title helps me decide whether to read the abstract or not. The meta description is that snippet of information found just below the title of the article.

You can exhaust your literature search by looking at the bibliographic entries of articles. That is, if you can access the whole paper. Open access articles may be available. While subscription journals are still considered suitable reference materials, open access articles are gaining ground. The European Commission promotes open access publishing gains to better and efficient science as well as innovation.

2. Consider your submission deadline

To be pragmatic about it, you need to deliver the goods within a specified period. If you are given a month or even a few weeks to search the literature, you do not have the luxury of time to write an extensive literature review. If you are doing your review within a semester in the process of writing your thesis, then, by all means, keep to that schedule. Your “free time” may be windows of one to two hours of reading in a day as you comply with the other requirements of the course.

Saving time (Source: https://xkcd.com/1205/ )

It would help if you had adequate time to synthesize the literature. Come up with your conceptual framework within a reasonable period. After reading about 20-30 references, you may likely have already conceptualized something significant. Keep to your deadline. Planning a strategy on how to do things on time can help you achieve your task.

Finding a meta-analysis, for example, can save you a lot of time. A meta-analysis systematically assesses the results of previous research to derive conclusions about that body of research. In effect, it brings relevant literature together in one study. Thus, a synthesis facilitates literature search. Just update or enhance the composition to come up with your conclusions or synthesis.

3. Gap in knowledge has been found

Stop searching the literature if you have found the gap in knowledge in the topic that you are exploring. A research gap pertains to areas of study that have not been explored. Minimal studies have been done so far to understand the phenomenon. It takes a while to discern such a gap, so you need to be patient in reading the literature and note down the significant findings.

Knowing when to stop searching the literature depends in part on your familiarity with the topic at hand. Hence, it pays to study something that you already have an established level of familiarity as you go through your academic pursuit. That is the mark of being a specialist in your field.

©2020 January 25 P. A. Regoniel

Cite this article as: Regoniel, Patrick (January 25, 2020). When to Stop Searching the Literature: Three Tips [Blog Post]. In SimplyEducate.Me. Retrieved from https://simplyeducate.me/2020/01/25/stop-searching-the-literature/
Categories
Research

Mind Map: A Tool in Conceptual Framework Development

It takes considerable time to figure out an appropriate conceptual framework for a study. The difficulty partly arises from a person’s unfamiliarity with the topic at hand. Hence, the following article on how to use the mind map can make the process of conceptual framework development easier.

One of the first things one should do when conducting meaningful research is to identify knowledge gaps in the selected topic. However, unless you make a thorough review of the literature, it is easier said than done. A comprehensive review of the literature is one where you can see clearly what aspects of the topic have not been studied yet.

How can you systematically undertake such a thorough review of the literature and identify where the gap exists?

Mind Map: A Literature Review Tool

Mind mapping the topic while reading the literature helps. Find a central issue, most sensibly the dependent variable, which is the focus of the research.

For example, a teacher may be interested in finding out why students in his or her class come to class late. Tardiness is not a unique phenomenon that the teacher can claim to be the first to identify. Some other teacher-researchers may have already looked into the problem in other places. Hence, a review of the literature of factors affecting tardiness can already be made.

It is possible, however, that the root cause of the problem in other places may not exist in the specific situation where the teacher carries out her tasks. Or, even after instituting new policies based on the review of factors affecting tardiness, the issue is not resolved. There may be a factor or set of factors that influence the students’ prompt arrival in class.

An example mind map may look like Figure 1 below where the central theme, tardiness, is the main topic. You may add the number of literature that supports particular predictor variables.

mind map
Figure 1. Mind map of factors affecting tardiness (click to enlarge).

The mind map shows that many studies have been done on the effect of predictor variables on tardiness. Further, among the predictor variables studied, several independent variables have been identified as significant predictors of tardiness. As not all of the predictor variables are accounted for in one study, there may be other variables at play which may have been left unstudied.

Example Conceptual Framework

For example, during a parent-teacher meeting, several parents raised the problem of internet overuse among their children. As an insight from the meeting, the teacher thought that internet use might be one of the reasons why pupils come to class late. Students tend to sleep late at night or early in the morning, playing online games.

From the mind map given in Figure 1, note that one of the factors identified is internet use as a predictor of sleep quality which in turn affects tardiness. Thus, a conceptual framework emphasizing the use of the internet plus two other significant predictors of tardiness may serve as study guide. Figure 2 shows the paradigm of such study. Internet use is highlighted as one of the independent variables.

Figure 2. Paradigm of a study on factors affecting tardiness.

The e-book on conceptual framework development featured in this site provides more detailed examples focused on other research topics.

References

Gemmill, E. L. and M. Peterson (2006). Technology use among college students: implications for student affairs professionals. Retrieved on October 20, 2019 from https://tinyurl.com/y2cks6dk

Mizan, S. S. and D. G. Shendell (2011). Absence, extended absence, and repeat tardiness related to asthma status among elementary school children. Retrieved on October 20, 2019 from https://tinyurl.com/y6rfl5l6

Cite this article as: Regoniel, Patrick (October 20, 2019). Mind Map: A Tool in Conceptual Framework Development [Blog Post]. In SimplyEducate.Me. Retrieved from https://simplyeducate.me/2019/10/20/mind-map-a-tool-in-conceptual-framework-development/
Categories
Research

How to Start a Review of Literature

Writing the literature review of a research paper needs careful planning. It requires the employment of logical steps before drawing out one’s conceptual framework. This article provides information on how to start a review of literature using Google Scholar, an online database of scientific information, as a source of relevant publications.

The task of doing research is not easy for a beginning researcher. Unfamiliarity with scholarly publications pertinent to a chosen topic causes one to falsely conclude that no work has been done so far on the issue at hand. A good review of literature prevents this tendency. But how should one go about it?

The following article shows how to start a review of literature using Google Scholar, an online database of scientific publications.

Clear Understanding of the Research Topic Before Review of Literature

A literature review revolves around a central theme – the research topic or research problem. The research topic should be stated clearly to guide the review of literature. A good review of literature starts off with a good understanding of the research topic.

Writing the research topic in question form facilitates the review of literature. The research problem arises from one’s observation of a phenomenon that prompts the need for a research investigation.

Examples of Problem Statement

For example, the disaster response team observed that despite government warnings to evacuate in anticipation of a strong typhoon, many of the residents opted to stay in their homes despite the threat to their lives and property.

Several questions arise such as:

1. Does ignorance of the government’s warning of the impending danger an indication that people do not trust weather predictions?
2. Do residents value more their property than their lives?
3. Do the residents feel that they will survive the disaster despite its severity? What made them feel that way?

Use of Relevant Keywords in the Search for Related Literature

The three questions given in the previous section clearly state the focus of the review of literature. One can deduce keywords that may be used for online search of related literature such as “believability of weather predictions” for the first problem statement.

Typing “believability of weather predictions” in Google Scholar returns the following related literature:

literature review
Figure 1. Two articles related to research problem 1.

The above figure shows that other researchers have conducted studies related to the first problem statement. Two out of ten articles returned have bearing on the first question. We can say then that the topic is researchable. Figure 1 also shows the following information:

1. the title of the study (in large blue fonts);
2. the authors with the main author underlined, the date and the publisher (in green);
3. a meta description that summarizes the page’s content (three lines of description in black highlighting keywords related to the searched keyword);
4. information on article citations (46 and 81 respectively in the two articles); and
5. a link to related articles.

Clicking on the title link of the first article, the following abstract comes up:

Abstract

This study assessed responses to variations of several notable news credibility measures. TV news was evaluated as more credible than newspapers, although its margin of supremacy was a function of researcher operationalizations of the concept.

The study is about news credibility and the influence of the researcher’s method on news credibility. Television news was found more credible than newspapers. But we are not after credibility comparison of television and newspapers. This is not the kind of information that we want. So we proceed to the next article about hurricane forecast and warning system.

Clicking on the title link of the succeeding article, the abstract appears. Although the focus of the article is on hurricane warning, it can be discerned that the article discusses high priority social science issues. Again, this appears to be still out of the topic.

However, getting back to the meta description and upon closer scrutiny, there is an important information that may be of interest to us. It says, “In risk communication, believability depends on trust and confidence in the source, raising …” (Figure 2). This is important information that a researcher can follow through. The article, after all, may be relevant to what we want. We need to secure the article.

We are fortunate that upon checking on the article again, there is a link at the far right that indicates a pdf file (encircled in red) is available for download. After downloading and reading the article, I found out that there are many relevant statements related to the issue of believability of predictions.

review of literature
Figure 2. Article related to research problem 1 with a pdf link.

It will now easy to collect other articles similar to the above article using the same procedure. Identify the relevant article title, read the meta description, and explore the availability of the material. With patience and a little imagination, you will be able to collect the literature that you need for your research.

You may proceed to the next problem statement and see if you can follow.

©2018 February 16 P. A. Regoniel

Cite this article as: Regoniel, Patrick (February 16, 2018). How to Start a Review of Literature [Blog Post]. In SimplyEducate.Me. Retrieved from https://simplyeducate.me/2018/02/16/review-of-literature/

Categories
Research

How to Write the Conceptual Framework in a Research Proposal

Many of the users of Simplyeducate.me post a lot of queries in the high traffic article I wrote titled: Conceptual Framework: A Step-by-Step Guide on How to Make One. The article’s intent is to provide useful tips on how to write the conceptual framework in a research proposal.

Despite the step-by-step, simplified guide on how to write the conceptual framework, the many questions posed by the readers suggest that they are unable to comprehend fully well the contents of the article. Through time, more than 400 comments were made in just that simple article. Interest in the topic is quite high. At this writing, more than 2,500 users read the article daily. Aside from grateful comments, readers ask a lot of questions about how to go about their conceptual framework despite the illustrative example.

Some of those who made comments ask too specific questions related to their research topics. Several masters degree candidates even send manuscripts for review and comments, eagerly waiting for my response. Many of those questions make sense while the others show the dilemma of a beginning researcher. Some of the comments indicate that the user did not read the article at all because the answer to their questions are already discussed in the article.

Among those common questions asked pertain to the determination of the independent and the dependent variables. Discernment of the difference between these types of variables appears to be difficult for many. Also, questions indicate a failure to relate one’s own research topic to what was explained in the article on how to write the conceptual framework in a research proposal. Nevertheless, I oblige by answering so very basic questions giving detailed suggestions and examples.

However, answering questions on specific research topics prove to be time consuming. I have to review the literature to make sure that my answer will be backed up by science. Reviewing the literature takes a lot of time. Although I enjoyed answering the questions, I cannot respond to all the specific queries on how to build one’s conceptual framework. Writing in Simplyeducate.me is basically a hobby; a way to share my understanding of the research process. I admit that my ideas are subject to scrutiny, and I thankfully respond to readers who point out overlooked points or glaring errors.

conceptual
Scrabble forming the word concept (Source: http://alphastockimages.com/)

To be more effective in addressing the readers’ queries, I wrote the e-book titled “Conceptual Framework Development Handbook: A Step-by-Step Guide with Five Practical Examples.” The e-book is a compilation of all conceptual framework related articles that I previously wrote in this site and in other blogging websites. I added lecture materials in the graduate school plus personal experience in doing research to enrich the discussion. Further, recognizing the effectiveness of examples to illustrate concept, I added five concrete examples using actual scientific papers to the e-book. The task was tedious, but it seems the e-book has fulfilled its purpose.

Thus, for those who find difficulty in writing the conceptual framework in a research proposal, the e-book detailing the steps on how to write the conceptual framework in a research proposal is a must have. For those who have availed of this publication, the author will be happy to receive comments, suggestions, and healthy criticisms to further enrich this work. All for the sake of better research outputs and … discovery.

If you are patient enough to browse in this site, chances are, you will find answers to your research-related questions. If not, then my e-book on How to Write a Thesis in the Information Age compiles all the research tips I wrote in this site and other websites with review questions as well as exercises.

Please message me about that specific topic you would like to know more about and I will respond with an article related to your query.

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Research

Consumer Behavior Analysis on Locally Produced Rice: A Suggested Conceptual Framework

One of the readers — Adwoa — requested help on consumer perception about locally produced rice after reading the post titled “Conceptual Framework: A Step-by-Step Guide on How to Make One.” This issue falls under the purview of consumer behavior analysis.

How would she come up with her conceptual framework? What are the variables she should take into consideration?

I do not exactly know why she decided to pick this topic. Perhaps she wants to know the consumers’ buying behavior in her place. It is possible that the main issue she is trying to resolve has something to do with consumer rice preference.

Thus, in framing the research issue, it is important to define the intention. What does the researcher want to achieve at the end of the study? Hence, the objectives of the study must be clear.

For discussion purposes, I presume that Adwoa would like to know if significantly more consumers in her locality buy rice produced in other places than locally-produced rice. Specifically, she might want to find out if there is a preference for imported rice. Thus the objective is:

Find out if imported rice is preferred over locally-produced rice.

To make clear the issue, let us state the problem in question form. Hence, the question that will guide our thinking shall be:

Problem Statement: Are there more people buying imported than locally-produced rice?

Consumer Behavior Analysis Framework for the Study

The variable in question must be identified to understand consumer behavior.  A variable is an entity that takes on different attributes.

In our example, the variable is the source of rice, i.e., whether it is local or imported. These attributes are textual, meaning, they do not show values but just categories. Thus, the consumer is presented with only two options: to buy local or imported rice.

A research hypothesis, represented by Ha, can then be drawn:

Ha: Significantly more consumers buy imported rather than locally-produced rice.

The researcher conceptualizes that the consumer’s decision to buy depends on whether the source of rice is local or imported. Perhaps, what prompted Adwoa to conduct the study is her observation that demand for imported rice is high as evidenced by a greater volume of consumption of that type of rice.

The type of data gathered in this study is referred to as frequency data. A simple Chi-square Goodness-of-Fit test will show if more people buy (or prefer) imported to local rice.

If for example, the proportion of randomly selected people buying imported rice versus local rice in a population of 100 is 80:20, apparently it shows that more people buy imported rice than local. However, if the proportion is something like 56:44, will you conclude in the same way? That data requires statistical analysis. The Chi-square goodness of fit test takes care of that.

If indeed the consumers prefer imported to local rice, then Adwoa might wonder and ask: “Why do people prefer imported rice?” Thus, the factors that affect the choice of rice type may be explored.

The conceptual framework to guide the study might look like this:

consumer behavior analysis
Suggested conceptual framework for rice preference.

Why include age, gender, and economic status in the picture? As a researcher, Adwoa might have noticed that most of those who buy rice are young, females, and belong to the higher echelon of society. Perhaps these factors may have influenced the decision to buy imported rice.

The alternative hypothesis (Ha) for the study at this stage, therefore, will be:

Ha: Age, gender, and economic status determine rice preference.

But do age, gender, and economic status determine rice preference? Before finalizing her conceptual framework, Adwoa may review the literature on consumer behavior analysis first to find out if somebody has done a similar study. If she does find related studies, then she can cite those studies to strengthen further or enhance the conceptual framework.

Analyzing the relationship between profile and preference requires a good knowledge of the appropriate statistical test. Thus, building the conceptual framework in this instance requires the guidance of a statistician or at least a working knowledge of statistics.

Consumer behavior analysis can thus guide policy makers in drawing out policies to guide local consumers. Preference for imported rice can affect local farmers and the local economy in general. Hence, research lends help to policy making.

©2017 P. A. Regoniel

Cite this article as: Regoniel, Patrick (July 20, 2017). Consumer Behavior Analysis on Locally Produced Rice: A Suggested Conceptual Framework [Blog Post]. In SimplyEducate.Me. Retrieved from https://simplyeducate.me/2017/07/20/consumer-behavior-analysis/

Categories
Research

Save Time Using the Internet as Source of Information

How can research help you save time? This article describes how a simple web search for information can save time in daily concerns such as commuting from one place to another. Read on to see how research can save time as well as money and effort.

Research can do worthwhile improvements in our daily lives such as saving time. Time is gold so they say and we must consciously do things that can help us save time. More time available means more opportunity to do other things.

I narrate my personal experience on how research tools and techniques matter. The application of simple review of available information and putting the information to good use means efficient use of time and money.

Save Time Using Online Information

I was one of the participants of a planning meeting in the Department of Science and Technology at 10 o’clock in the morning last Wednesday. My residence is in Quezon City and I will be traveling from that point of Metro Manila to the City of Taguig. If I take the taxi as I did before, I will be paying roughly PhP500 to reach my destination. That would take about two hours, at moderate traffic.

I dislike the feeling of urgency whenever the taxi I am in gets trapped in the traffic mess. The  driver complains and asks me to pay extra for the delay. It gives me stress and this can get ugly if my frustration leads to a heated exchange of words with the driver.

I realized later that the driver is not to be blamed because running on an empty taxi after unloading me in my destination in the midst of heavy traffic means expending gas with no passenger to pay for the gas consumed.

Stating the Problem

I thought there must be a more efficient, less costly and less stressful way to get to Taguig. Can research help resolve the question I have in mind? So I framed my problem statement thus:

Is there a faster, more efficient, and less expensive route to reach the City of Taguig from Quezon City?

Given this question, the next step is to review available information.

As there is nobody to ask around, the internet is the most convenient source of information. I browsed the web and learned that aside from taxis and buses, Taguig can be accessed by train. Train? I never thought of that option and I haven’t heard any of my colleagues take that route.

Although unsure if the route still exists because the information was written a few years back, I assumed that it still holds true. I am familiar with the Magallanes station of the Metro Rail Transit (MRT). And the information says that just a few hundred meters southward, the Philippine National Railways (PNR) station can be found.

I followed the route, taking the Ikot jeep in UP Diliman to get to UP Pantranco jeep so I can ride the Metro Rail Transit at the junction of EDSA and Quezon Avenue. The train arrived at the Magallanes station at around  7:50am.

I fumbled my way to the supposed EDSA station of the old railway system of PNR asking a guard for directions somewhere below the Magallanes interchange. He pointed the way to the station. Walking about 50 meters more, I “discovered” the hidden access.

The Old Train Arrived

My arrival would have been timely because a diesel-powered train arrived shortly. But being a newbie passenger, I missed it as I need to go against a throng of passengers who alighted from the train. I have to wait for the next train that is expected to come within an hour. I glanced at my watch and saw the time is 8:34am. I am still okay, I thought, as the meeting will commence at 10am.

save time by train
The Philippine National Railways train arrives at EDSA station.

Patience is a virtue, so they say, so I spent the time documenting the station and the surrounding areas. It’s a hot day so I walked from the  sunlight exposed sitting area and stood in the cooler western portion of the waiting shed.

At around 9:18am, the distinctive train toot and bright headlight came into view. I prepared to board the train with several other passengers. The train is moderately full at this busy hour. It seems many people are unfamiliar with this alternative route that goes from Tutuban to Calamba.

It took the train only 14 minutes to reach Bicutan, after two brief stops in Nichols and FTI. I arrived at my destination. The DOST compound is only at the other side of the road. In less than five minutes, I was 15 minutes ahead of the meeting schedule.

Cost of the Trip from Quezon City to Taguig

The whole trip from Quezon City to Taguig cost me only PhP50. Below is a breakdown of my expenses:

  • Ikot jeep: PhP6
  • PANTRANCO jeep: PhP10
  • MRT: PhP24
  • PNR: PhP10

I didn’t mind the congested ride in the jeep and at the MRT because it’s the busiest time of the day as employees rush to work. It’s great to find a more efficient, inexpensive and stress free route to my destination. The cost is 10 times less than taking the taxi. And I can improve on my commute time with the knowledge I gained on the train schedule.

Walking up the stairs at the Quezon Avenue station of MRT and queuing along with the long line of train passengers is the only patience challenging part of the trip.

Categories
Environment Research

The Default Theory

I have been thinking about this concept for quite a time. And I am convinced that advancing this idea as a theory can help explain the phenomenon that commonly beset human affairs, i.e., nothing happens, or nothing changes without deliberate and sustained effort to institute changes. I call this the Default Theory.

The Default Theory I have in mind applies to many cases of human endeavor. Although there is a theory by Timothy Levine called Truth-Default Theory or TDT, the theory I am advancing is entirely different from his description.

For example, I disseminated information among colleagues that there is an opportunity for innovation and development proposals to be potentially funded heavily by the Commission on Higher Education. The initiative is part of the government’s effort to minimize the adverse effects of the K-12 Transition Program.

A week was given to comply with the simple requirement of submitting a one or two-page concept paper to the funding agency. The concept paper preludes the preparation of a full-blown research proposal once the proposed concept is accepted.

I discussed the rationale, explained the mechanics and gave all the forms to be accomplished to the unit heads. I thought they would appreciate the effort and be motivated likewise to disseminate the information to the 400-500 faculty members of the university. I also explored possible topics as starting points that the group can follow through.

Even while disseminating the information and being hopeful that they will respond to the call, at the back of my mind, I somehow anticipate that nobody will submit or make the extra effort to present their proposals. By default, nothing gets done for some reason. Almost always, nothing gets done despite efforts to make a change.

And nobody did submit except me as I took extra effort to make a submission on or before the deadline. I am aware of the Default Theory. Things happen as they should if no additional effort is done to counter its effect. I have done this action several times, and I made changes and took a career turn. I counteract the default with deliberate, sustained effort to do something.

urban sprawl
Eutrophication of coastal areas occurs by default.

When applied to dealing with environmental issues or concerns which are my cup of tea, the Default Theory works likewise.

For example, for many years and after so many ideas, suggestions, propositions, projects, programs among others that arise to counter the effects of environmental degradation, the default prevails. That is, nothing gets accomplished that significantly and with lasting impact.

If you attend conferences or read scientific papers, the issue of environmental problems such as pollution, illegal trade, over-extraction, and similar problems faced decades back remain. The default is that nothing gets done, at least on a sustainable manner, even with much effort and expense. There may be successes, but history reveals that everything goes back to board one through time. Gains are not sustainable.

So where does this bring us?

It all starts with the recognition that this phenomenon exists. And deliberate, sustained effort to counter the “business as usual” must be made.

Categories
Data Analysis Research

Information System: Its Definition and Role in Decision Making

What is an information system? How can it influence an organization’s effectiveness? This article defines information system and how it works.

The rapid pace of urban development in the information age is made possible by computer-based information systems. Middle level and upper-level managers benefit a lot from the outputs of a well-designed and efficient information system. In a highly competitive world, information systems define the winners and the losers in many areas: economic, political, social, among others.

But what is an information system? How does it work? How can managers make use of it?

Definition of Information System

An information system is an organized scheme of people and data collection and retrieval tools to produce information. Data is meaningless unless analyzed or processed to meet the needs of the users. Thus, data processors which may be human or machines, process the data and produce information. Information may be in the form of graphs, tables, figures or any output that translates data into understandable forms. Thus, information is processed data.

Modern organizations use computer-based or computer information systems because of its high efficiency in delivering information. Manual information systems, while still in use, is slower and relies mainly on the ability of people to process data.

In the age of information, information systems are synonymous with computer-based or computer information systems. That is because computers are used to process data into understandable chunks of information that the user needs. Slow data processing systems that rely on manual retrieval of data from physical folders or files in a metal cabinet are gradually phased out in modern workplaces.

information system
information system The information system in relation to the business world (Source: Wikipedia.org).

How Does a Computer Information System Work?

A computer information system requires the input of data, a processing capability, and the ability to produce an output that can be stored for future use. The acronym IPOS summarizes the components of an information system. This acronym stands for Input, Process, Output, and Storage.

In a computer information system, an input is made through the use of a keyboard, a mouse, or a microphone. Process refers to data analysis using software applications that take advantage of the computer’s processor. Computers perform complex calculations to organize data into useful outputs that can be displayed on a screen or printed on paper. It makes sense of data whose raw form is meaningless.

The output may be used immediately or retrieved from a storage whenever necessary. Flash drives, hard disks, and cloud storage facilities are commonly used to store both data and information.

Requisites of Good Information

The information produced in an information system is only as good as the data used to generate it. It follows the GIGO principle: Garbage In, Garbage Out. Wrong information produces false results.

According to Zikmund (1999), useful information should be 1) relevant, 2) timely, 3) of high quality, and 4) complete.

Relevance is the degree to which the information produced is related or useful to the current issue that needs resolution.  Information is timely if it is available whenever needed. Information is of high quality if it is based on accurate data and analyzed correctly. And information is highly useful if it answers all of the user’s queries or requirements.

Good information, therefore, is helpful in decision making if it is produced through systematic means. The rigorous manner applied in conducting research plays an essential role in delivering information that makes clear a decision maker’s options.

See how information is generated in the post titled: Market Analysis: The Pizza Study.

Reference

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

Cite this article as: Regoniel, Patrick (June 8, 2016). Information System: Its Definition and Role in Decision Making [Blog Post]. In SimplyEducate.Me. Retrieved from https://simplyeducate.me/2016/06/08/information-system/
Categories
Education Research

Doctoral Thesis: Working Your Way Out

What attitude should you adopt in writing a doctoral thesis? Is it all too difficult? Here are five tips to get you going.

Writing a doctoral thesis is one of the most challenging tasks a graduate student would have to face in the course of completing a graduate degree. What are the challenges associated with doctoral thesis writing? I narrate my experience as I worked my way through the hurdles of the graduate school.

Give Up or Go On?

One of the professors I hold in awe and respect highly told everyone in class that pursuing a degree in the graduate school is not an easy path to take. There will be times you would want to give up and be free of the many demands of graduate study. He advised us to just “Go on and don’t be discouraged because depression is a normal part of a graduate student’s life.”

His words rung in my mind each time I feel like giving up. Much more so when I plunged deep into the water and looked up and around the blue waters surrounding me. I was assessing the status of coral reefs in selected spots in two bays. I was looking into the congruence of community perception on adjacent coral reefs with the “true” situation of their reefs verified by actual physical assessment of its condition.

Deep down in seawater at about 30 to 60 feet, I reflected upon myself: “What the hell am I doing here, swimming like a fish when I am a human being who should naturally be walking on land!” I am engaging in something unnatural. Humans are not meant to be in the depths of the sea. All of these I do for the sake of science, of trying to support the argument of my doctoral thesis. I felt like giving up.

But a doctoral thesis requires a more intelligent and rigorous inquiry into the unknown (see the difference between a master’s degree and a doctoral degree’s approach to the phenomenon). There should be a difference between a doctoral thesis and a master’s thesis. And I have to do something groundbreaking. At least that’s what I thought it should be.

doctoral thesis
Thesis defense, or offense?

Writing the Doctoral Thesis: Five Tips

So how can a Ph.D. candidate cope up with the challenges associated with the writing of a doctoral thesis? How can one cope up with the many and never ending manuscript editing woes?

Remember that writing a doctoral thesis is not your most amazing work. It is a prelude for you to appreciate and critically inquire into the theories that are never perfect. You can blaze a path of your own and be known in a niche you can best excel in.

How can you best cope with the task of finishing your doctoral thesis? Here are five suggestions to help you out of your predicament:

  1. Make sure you select an adviser who has a good reputation in your field. A good mentor produces good mentees.
  2. Be very clear about your intention in writing the doctoral thesis. An excellent review of the literature will help you clarify the issue that bogs your mind.
  3. Be brave to change your topic if the path you take gets too messy. Writing the doctoral thesis is done in partial, not full, fulfillment of the course requirements. Don’t aim towards perfection as that means more time and effort that may not be needed.
  4. Don’t force yourself too hard when you are not in the mood to write. Take a break. I did by playing a computer game all day long.
  5. Schedule your work and do a little at a time when your mind is not functioning at its peak. But compensate when you are in the mood. Do things gradually and you will accomplish a great deal. Just be consistent.

The point of the whole matter is that once you decide to go for a doctoral degree, there are some sacrifices to be made. No pain, no gain.