In This Issue:
- Getting Started — Academic Research:
Scholarly Journals, Popular Magazines, Newspapers, Trade Publications, and the Internet
- Email of the Month
It’s that time again and my New Year’s resolution is to loose 15 lbs by May 9, 2006. I have made my goal public and have set a specific deadline to do so. Many of you have made a New Year’s resolution to finish your qualifying exams, graduate coursework, thesis or dissertation in 2006. This is a good first step, because to accomplish any long-term goal, you must set a specific deadline … for example, on what day in 2006 do you want to accomplish this goal?
After setting a specific goal, ensure that you’re successful in accomplishing it by making use of our FREE TA-DA™ online certificate. Perhaps just setting a date is not enough and you are really serious about getting organized and finishing your degree. This year you might also consider taking the next step by purchasing the TADA! Thesis and Dissertation CD – a user-friendly resource that will guide you step-by-step through the process, from start to finish. Using TA-DA™ will definitely make the whole process much easier for you, especially the writing phase!
New Year’s resolution or not, it’s never too early to begin thinking about a topic for your thesis or dissertation. Don’t wait until you are finished with your coursework to begin thinking about selecting a topic! For the greatest degree of success, you should be thinking about a possible topic on your first day of graduate school. By doing so, you can use your coursework to your greatest advantage. You can let your interest guide you regarding what courses to take; choose a class in which the professor is an expert on a specific topic and can give you insightful feedback; and/or pursue a possible topic in one or two of your graduate seminars. For example, you might use one class to write the literature review, and another class to develop the methodology.
When the critical decision regarding your topic is made, the Herculean process of research begins. To maximize your research efforts, be sure that you stay extremely organized and efficient from the very start. Diligently keeping track of your files in the early phases of your research will reduce stress levels later on, when your enthusiasm may begin to wane. And while, ideally, you’ll never be forced to “back track,” if a situation arises in which you must, your early preparation and organization will make that process much less painful.
No matter where you complete your research – the Internet, published articles or books, electronic library databases, television news or even a friend – it’s critical to evaluate whether your sources are credible and authoritative. For example, if you choose to include full text articles as part of your research, it’s important to distinguish between the different types that are available. It’s generally best to stick to information found in scholarly journals, rather than trade publications or popular/general interest magazines. While scholarly or academic journals are usually published by a university or institution and contain research or specific information, popular magazines are generally written for a general audience and focus more on entertainment than academics. Similarly, trade publications are written for specific businesses, industries or organizations, and contain information and jargon specifically targeted to that audience. (See the distinguishing features of these different written resources below.)
Focusing on scholarly text will also ultimately assist you in the writing process. After all, each of your academic writing assignments – including your thesis or dissertation – is an opportunity for scholarly publication. As such, your writing style should be formal and similar to what you find in scholarly journals, so it’s important for your future success to master this form of writing. Reading, reading, and more reading of scholarly text will not only familiarize you with the proper terminology, history, and current concerns of your academic discipline, but will also make an academic writing style second nature to you when you finally put pen to paper.
Below are the criteria and distinguishing features of the different types of written resources at your disposal.
Scholarly journals generally have a serious, sober look and feel. They are sometimes referred to as academic journals, refereed journals, peer reviewed journals, juried journals, research journals, or just journals. Scholarly journals are typically published monthly or quarterly by professional organizations or institutes of higher education. The articles within them tend to be somewhat long, as they provide in-depth analysis of a particular research topic. The authors are scholars, professionals or professors who are considered experts within their particular field and, more often than not, are affiliated with an academic or research institution. Their writing is formal and directed at an audience of scholars, researchers and students who – it is assumed – already have an understanding of the terminology, jargon, history and current concerns of the specific academic discipline. The format is formal, and frequently follows an academic structure that includes sections such as an Abstract, Literature Review, Methodology, and Results/Discussions/Conclusions. The content is specialized and research-based, and includes extensive documentation of previously published research to reinforce the credibility of its claims. Further enhancing credibility is the fact that scholarly articles are thoroughly reviewed and critiqued by editorial boards or other objective subject scholars/experts before being published. In these journals illustrations usually take the form of charts and graphs. And because journals contain few to no advertisements, there are no distractions from the article’s content.
Examples of Scholarly Journals include the New England Journal of Medicine, American Sociological Review and JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association.
Popular magazines are typically attractive in appearance and published monthly or weekly by a commercial organization generally for entertainmnet purposes. The articles tend to be short, and provide a broad overview – rather than an in-depth analysis – of a particular topic. The authors are freelance or paid staff writers and professional journalists whose credentials are typically not included. The writing style is informal, and is generally written for easy reading by people with a high school or lower education level. The content is targeted at the general public, rather than a specific group of experts, and often reports opinions rather than fact. Publications usually have a glossy, slick appearance, and contain photographs and extensive advertisements that interrupt the text. Documentation is rare – most articles do not provide any sort of bibliography – and there is generally no peer review process before publishing. Rather, the review process is typically completed by one or more persons/editors employed by the same magazine.
Examples of popular magazines include US News and World Report, Newsweek, People Magazine, and Psychology Today
Trade publications are typically published monthly or quarterly by trade associations or for-profit organizations. They are sometimes referred to as professional journals, trade journals, trade magazines, practitioner’s journals. The articles tend to be short, and are typically crafted to advocate a specific point of view, particularly regarding regulatory and legislative issues. The authors are professional writers and/or specialists employed within the industry, but their credentials are often not included. The target audience is people/professionals who work within a particular industry or people seeking employment in that industry. The writing is informal, and – although it may include industry-specific jargon – the language is most often broad and simple enough to be understood by a generalized audience. Along with graphs and charts, authors often mention sources but usually don’t include a bibliography. The review process is usually completed by one or more persons/editors employed by the same publication. Like popular magazines, these publications are not as reliable as scholarly journals and typically have a glossy, slick appearance, along with extensive advertisements that break up the text.
Examples of trade publications include Nation’s Restaurant News, Educational Leadership, Information Today, Aviation Week and Space Technology.
HELPFUL HINT: Begin your research by accessing some of the Internet links organized by academic disciplines at http://www.tadafinallyfinished.com/links/index.html.
Email Question of the Month:
I am a very buy person and really don’t have time to write my dissertation proposal. How much do you charge to write a dissertation proposal for me?
Thank you for contacting us at TADA Thesis and Dissertation Accomplished. We do not write proposals, theses or dissertations as it is ethically wrong for us to do so. When you have someone else write your proposal you cannot be sure it is “original” or has not been sold to anyone else. We offer you the TADA Thesis and Dissertation Accomplished CD – a resource tool with tips, and techniques designed to help you write your own proposal, thesis, and dissertation. Check out our March newsletter which deals with writing a proposal.
If you need an editor, we recommend www.academicword.com as a resource for editing academic research papers. If you cannot figure out how to manage your time effectively the TADA Thesis and Dissertation Accomplished CD will help you organize and manage your time more effectively so that you can work around your current responsibilities.
Wendy Y. Carter, Ph.D.
About the Author: As a single mother, professor Wendy Y. Carter, Ph.D., completed three masters’ degrees and a PhD. Her motto is a Good Thesis/Dissertation is a Done Thesis/Dissertation. She is the creator of a new innovative interactive resource tool on CD—TADA! Thesis and Dissertation Accomplished. To learn more and sign up for her FREE tips and teleclasses, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Privacy is our policy. TADA™ Finishline does not give out or sell our subscribers’ names or e-mail addresses.