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Basics of Research


Academic year: 2022

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K. Mohankumar

Director, School of Marine Sciences &

Dean, Faculty of Environmental Studies

Cochin University of Science and Technology


Research is a process.

It begins with your

question, and ends with your answer.

• Analyze the assignment

• Develop your research question

How do you come up with a good

research question?




How to Start Research?

• Pick a relevant topic or area of interest based on your background in the Subject.

Try to be as specific as possible Do not pick too General

• Compile a set of 'keywords' to start searching for high

quality readings for each of the previously selected topics.

Pick one research topic at a time Search on the web

Double check the publication details for quality


• Select around 15-20 papers that you think are most related to what you had in mind

• For the selected 15-20 papers read only the abstract, introduction and conclusion in detail

• Identify the emphasis of each paper:

 which problem it addresses?

 what solution it proposes?

 how the solution differs from previous solutions


 what are the main contributions and

conclusions ?


Out of these 15-20 papers, and based on your reading and understanding:

Pick a list of 4-6 papers that you think are the highest quality

Address your research interests

Challenges in the field most



Read those 4-6 papers from beginning to end, identifying in deta il :

The main approaches/ Topic of Relevance

Methods of analysis:

(i) approach,

(ii) evaluation tools,

(iii) simulation or measured data

Analysis and interpretation of results

How the results are justified in the Discussion

Conclusions Drawn


Some questions to ask include :

Did all/some papers use similar approaches?

Have they used the same evaluation criteria, or method of analysis?

If not, then what are the strengths/ weaknesses of each method?

Also, keep a list of ideas that you want to explore further, or background material you want to brush upon.

This will create another list of readings for you in later



Evolution of New Ideas/Thinking

 After going through the paper/article try to keep a list of what you think the

authors may have missed in the paper/study

 Find the gaps or limitations that could be improved upon

 Any ideas on how to accomplish these



Two Page Writeup

Write a two page proposal defining, as clearly as possible, the following items:


Research challenges

Overview of existing work

Limitations of existing work

Potential directions and ideas for improvement

Expected results and impact on the field.


• Have some experienced friends review the proposal for you and give feedback (mainly on presentation and clarity, leave technical remarks for the reserach advisor).

• If/when you think it is clear, then discuss the proposal with your research advisor.

• If you do not think it is clear, go back and re-write.

• If you think you have missed some other work, then go back to the 15-20 list and pick another 3-5 good papers to read in detail, and re-write parts of your proposal.

• Step 2


How to Draft a 2-3 Proposal?


Brief, Focussed, Create a Centre of Attention


Why you think this topic is important?

Why is this a significant area of research?

What are the main problems in this area? and Why do you think your proposal is important for

the topic?


Related Work:

What other researchers have proposed earlier to address the above problems?

What were their results and conclusions?

Why you think you still need to do work in this area

What are the shortcomings/pitfalls of earlier work?

What do you propose that is different from related work?

What do you propose that is similar?

Clarify how your ideas address the shortcomings of earlier work.

Provide adequate and proper citations of related work.


Proposal Body

Problem statement:

State very clearly and very specifically the question(s) that you attempt to answer (Be as clear and as specific as you can).

• You can list the questions but add an introduction

sentence to link the questions and tell the whole story.

Evaluation Criteria

Mention very clearly and as specific as possible the evaluation criteria you intend to use to evaluate your approach and ideas.

Investigated Parameter Space:

Mention the design space investigated in the study..



Mention which of the methodologies will be used and why.

Elaborate on the tool used, if any.


Expected results:

Show what change in performance/evaluation you would gain by using your approach (as opposed to previous


• At this stage, show only expected/anticipated results or trends and justify your prediction

References: Around 6 references of high quality per project


10 Page Proposal

• The next step is to write a 10 page proposal

elaborating on the 2 pages above, adding your own twist on the problem, outlining your initial thoughts, results and findings, and outlining a clear plan to continue the work.



Around half page (or less) outlining the work, its scope, what is the problem statement in brief, how is the

approach different than main previous approaches to this problem and what are the main




Why you think this topic is important?

why is this a significant area of research?

What are the main problems in this area? and

why do you think your proposal is important for the topic?

Related Work:

What other researchers have proposed earlier to address the above problems? What were their results and conclusions?

Why you think you still need to do work in this area (i.e., what are the shortcomings/pitfalls of earlier work?) What do you

propose that is different from related work? and what do you propose that is similar?

Clarify how your ideas address the shortcomings of earlier work. Provide adequate and proper citations of related work.


Results and Analysis

– Describe the specific settings of the evaluation scenarios and outline the experiment(s).

– Show the result graphs and explain them very clearly

(using self-explanatory graph labeling, graph captions and explanation in the text).

– Focus on the main points of the results and start extracting useful observation that may help in drawing conclusions.

– Analyze these main points, explaining why they occured?

was this result expected? (if yes, was it the same reason initially thought or a different one? if no, why not? was the flaw in the initial thinking?)

References: At least 6 references of high quality per project.


• Writing Research Papers


• Writing Research Papers

• Question: I know what I want to write. I’m just having difficulty getting started. What can I do?

• Answer: There is no magic formula to

researching and writing papers. The key to keeping your research and writing pain free is to start early and get organized. The

following is a simple plan for writing research papers.


Type of Article: Original Articles

• Original Research Article

– Most common, report of original research – Full-length article

– Fully peer-reviewed

• Short/Rapid Communication

• Research Letters

– Not all journals accept them

– Small paper of very high relevance

– Fully peer-reviewed


Plan for a Research Paper

• How do I know that I have enough data for a manuscript?

• How do my data advance knowledge?

• What if my data are against my original hypothesis?

• Which audience do I want to target?


How do I know that I have enough data for a manuscript?

• Do the results tell a complete story?

• Do I have all the supporting data?

• Do I have all the appropriate controls?

Go beyond the “minimal publishable unit”

One high quality paper in high profile

journal has more impact of a few lower

quality papers


How Do My Data Advance Knowledge?

• Do my data:

– Identify a new biologic mechanism?

– Describe a new biologic model?

– Discover a new function of a gene/protein?

– Define new mechanism of disease?

– Identify a new approach to treatment?

Challenge current dogmas?

Lack of novelty is the leading reason for

most rejection decisions


How Do My Data Advance Knowledge?

• Little advance of knowledge when

– Results extend known notions/mechanisms to

• A different cell or tissue system

• A different organism

• A different atmospheric or oceanic phenomena

– Results are confirmatory of previous reports

• Not always accepted for publication

Research and study the literature in depth!


What if My Results Are Against My Original Hypothesis?

• Hypotheses may be disproved

• Strength of paper is based on solidity of data, not on a priori assumptions

• Interpret data as they are

– Most innovative observations are unexpected – Articles do not always follow chronological

order of experiments


Which Audience Should I Target?

• Write for an audience, not for yourself

• Consider who would be most interested in your new data

– Unexpected results may take you into a new field/research area

• Critical considerations

– General audience vs. specialty areas

– Journal rating and likelihood of success


How to begin?

• Write the Results section first

Number the figures and tables

Write an outline, then a narrative of the results following a logical thread

Write the other sections after you are confident with the results Methods

Introduction Discussion Abstract


Writing Title and Abstract

• Importance of title and abstract

• Formulating an effective title

• The abstract: conveying information

in a few words


Importance of Title and Abstract

• Articles are listed by title in databases

• Title should attract the interest of the reader

• Should give the “punch-line”

• Most readers will read only the abstract

• Abstract should provide complete information

and further attract readers towards the paper


Things to avoid in a title

– Too many words

– Too many acronyms

– Inconclusive or ambiguous statements – Passive verb form

– Questions



• Typically the first author did most of the work, and wrote the paper

• The last author typically headed up the research group and paid for the work

• An author must have made a significant contribution to the work


The Abstract

• Brief (200-250 words) synopsis of the work

• Should contain enough information to

understand the work without reading the paper

• Should be informative, like the title

– Short introduction – Outline of results – Logical thread

– One-line conclusion


Writing an Effective Abstract

Draft abstract at the beginning following the outline, revise and finalize after paper is completed

Lay out an outline of your results

Start with 1-2 sentences of background

State your objective in one sentence

Start describing the results briefly mentioning the methodological approach

Link findings to one another by a logical thread


Abstract Content

Purpose of the study - hypothesis, overall question, objective

Model organism or system and brief description of the experiment

Results, including specific data - if the results are

quantitative in nature, report quantitative data; results of any statistical analysis should be reported

Important conclusions or questions that follow from the experiment(s)


Abstract Style

Single paragraph, and concise

As a summary of work done, it is always written in past tense

An abstract should stand on its own, and not refer to any other part of the paper such as a figure or table

Focus on summarizing results - limit background

information to a sentence or two, if absolutely necessary


Things to avoid in abstract

– Too many words

• Comply to journal word limitation!

– Too long introduction

• Limit to 1-2 statements

– Too many methodological details

• Include general approach and models

– Too many details in results

• Avoid too many numbers, statistical data, etc.


Too long!

Too many acronyms!

Introduction too long!

Too many methodological details!


Writing an introduction

• Describe the importance (significance) of the study - why was this worth doing in the first place? Provide a broad context.

• Defend the model - why did you use this

particular organism or system? What are its advantages? You might comment on its

suitability from a theoretical point of view as

well as indicate practical reasons for using it.


Writing an introduction

• Provide a justification

• State your specific hypothesis(es) or

objective(s), and describe the reasoning that led you to select them.

• Very briefy describe the experimental design

and how it accomplished the stated objectives



Introduction Style

• Use past tense except when referring to established facts. After all, the paper will be submitted after all of the work is completed.

• Organize your ideas, making one major point with each paragraph. If you make the four points listed above,

you will need a minimum of four paragraphs.


Introduction Style (contd..)

• Present background information only as needed in order support a position. The reader does not want to read everything you know about a subject.

• State the hypothesis/objective precisely - do not oversimplify.

• As always, pay attention to spelling, clarity and appropriateness of sentences and phrases


Materials and Methods

This should be the easiest section to write, but many students misunderstand the purpose.

The objective is to document all specialized

materials and general procedures, so that another

individual may use some or all of the methods in

another study or judge the scientific merit of your




Materials and Methods (contd..)

It is not to be a step by step description of

everything you did, nor is a methods section a set of instructions. In particular, it is not supposed to tell a story.

By the way, your notebook should contain all of

the information that you need for this section


Materials and Methods : Style

• It is awkward or impossible to use active voice when documenting methods without using first person, which would focus the reader's attention on the investigator rather than the work.

• Therefore when writing up the methods most authors use third person passive voice.

• Use normal prose in this and in every other section of the paper – avoid informal lists, and use complete



What to Avoid

Materials and methods are not a set of instructions.

Omit all explanatory information and background - save it for the discussion.

Omit information that is irrelevant to a third party,

such as what color ice bucket you used, or which

individual logged in the data.



General intent

• The purpose of a results section is to present and illustrate your findings.

• Make this section a completely objective report of the results, and save all

interpretation for the discussion.


Results - Contents

• Summarize your findings in text and illustrate them, if appropriate, with figures and tables.

• In text, describe each of your results, pointing the reader to observations that are most relevant.

• Provide a context, such as by describing the question that was addressed by making a particular observation.

• Describe results of control experiments and include

observations that are not presented in a formal figure or table, if appropriate.

• Analyze your data, then prepare the analyzed

(converted) data in the form of a figure (graph), table, or

in text form.


Results – What to avoid

Do not discuss or interpret your results, report

background information, or attempt to explain anything.

Never include raw data or intermediate calculations in a research paper.

Do not present the same data more than once.

Text should complement any figures or tables, not repeat the same information.

Please do not confuse figures with tables - there is a



Results - Style

• Always use past tense when you refer to your results, and put everything in a logical order.

• In text, refer to each figure as "figure 1," "figure 2," etc.

; number your tables as well (see the reference text for details)

• Place figures and tables, properly numbered, in order at the end of the report (clearly distinguish them from any other material such as raw data, standard curves, etc.)

• If you prefer, you may place your figures and tables appropriately within the text of your results section.


Figures and Tables

Either place figures and tables within the text of the result, or

include them in the back of the report (following Literature Cited) - do one or the other.

If you place figures and tables at the end of the report, make sure they are clearly distinguished from any attached appendix

materials, such as raw data

Regardless of placement, each figure must be numbered

consecutively and complete with caption (caption goes under the figure)

Regardless of placement, each table must be titled, numbered consecutively and complete with heading (title with description goes above the table)

Each figure and table must be sufficiently complete that it could stand on its own, separate from text



o The discussion section is the heart of the paper

General intent

• The objective here is to provide an

interpretation of your results and support for all of your conclusions, using evidence from your experiment and generally accepted knowledge, if appropriate.

• The significance of findings should be clearly



Discussion - Style

When you refer to information, distinguish data generated by your own studies from published information or from information obtained from other students

Refer to work done by specific individuals (including yourself) in past tense.

Refer to generally accepted facts and principles in

present tense.


How to Structure a Discussion

• Start with a short 3-4-statement paragraph summarizing the essential findings

• If the study objective was to test whether the drug X was safe and effective in treating disease Y in a

population Z, then the first statement should directly say that:

Es. The study reported herein demonstrates that estrogen replacement therapy is safe and effective in reducing the incidence of hip fractures in postmenopausal women with osteoporosis.


Writing the Discussion

• Address each of the points of discussion in separate paragraphs

• Give your interpretation of the results in a way that

leads the readers to understand the relevance of your findings

• Tell the readers how your results support the conclusions and the significance of the results

• Quote previous work in support of your findings and provide credibility to your claims


Writing the Discussion

• End the Discussion with a 4-5-statement paragraph summarizing again the main findings and their

implications for patient treatment or future research

• Consider starting the final paragraph with words framing a conclusion

In summary, our results demonstrate that…

In conclusion, we provide evidence for a therapeutic effect…

• Some readers will skip to the end of the Discussion – use the final paragraph to provide your “punch-line”


What NOT to Do in the Discussion

• Do NOT repeat the results

• Do quote previous work by yourself and others, but do NOT repeat the same statement of the Introduction

• Do NOT try to explain everything, focus on the main themes of discussion

• Do NOT write too much, 4-5 double-spaced pages (font 11 or 12 points) is optimal

• Avoid redundancies and repetitions


Avoid the following

• The biggest mistake that students make in discussions is to present a superficial interpretation that more or less re-states the results.

• It is necessary to suggest why results came out as they did, focusing on the mechanisms behind the observations.


Citing of Literature in Text

• Do not write initials of authors

• eg : J. R. Holton (wrong), Holton (correct)

• Author(s) should represent by the last name

• In the case of one or two authors, then show by name, followed by the year of publication.

• eg : Holton (2005), Holton and Tan (1996)

• If there are more than 2 authors, then give the first author (then) et al

• eg : J. R. Holton, C. Tan and J. A. Logan is represented as Holton et al (2004)


Citing of Literature in Text

• If there are more papers to be quoted, then give

• eg : (Bowman, 1995; Fusco and Salby, 1999;

• Trenberth et al, 2003, Wirth, 2006)

• If we want to quote the papers of the same authors

• eg : (Joseph, 1997; 2001; 2006)

• If the same authors, and publication the same year

• eg : Susan and Solomon (2005a; 2005b)

• If we are quoting an unpublished matter

• eg : (Raman, 2004 – Personal communication)



• List all literature cited in your paper, in alphabetical order, by first author.

• In a proper research paper, only primary literature is used (original research articles authored by the original investigators).

• Eg : Chanin, M. L. and Solomon, S. 2005 :

Stratospheric ozone and its impact on climate, J.

Geophys. Res., 98, 217-224



• How do the ideas in your paper connect to what you have discussed in your topic?

• What new ideas have you added?

• What are the limitations of your data, methods, or results?

• What are the consequences of the strongest idea that comes out of your paper?

• How can you return to the question or situation

you describe in your introduction?



If quoting a reference in a published book

eg : Brasseur, G. and Solomon, S, 1984 : Aeronomy

of the middle atmosphere, D. Riedel Publishing Company,


Never include a web site as a reference - anyone can put just about anything on a web site, and you have no way of knowing if it is truth or fiction.

If you are citing an on line journal, use the journal citation (name, volume, year, page numbers).



1. Know the journal, its editors, and why you submitted the paper there

2. Pay close attention to spelling, grammar, and punctuation

3. Make sure references are comprehensive and accurate

4. Avoid careless mistakes

5. Read and conform to “Instructions for Authors”


Mistakes to avoid

• Placing a heading at the bottom of a page with the following text on the next page (insert a

page break!)

• Dividing a table or figure - confine each figure/table to a single page

• Submitting a paper with pages out of order


Getting a paper published

Competition for space in journals is intense

Cost of publication is high, $360/page for APS

Rejection rates vary

AJP = 50%

JBC = 65%

NEJM, Science, Nature = 90%


Major reasons for rejection

 Confirmatory (not novel)

 Poor experimental design - Poor controls

- Hypothesis not adequately tested

 Inappropriate for journal

 Poorly written


What constitutes a good journal?

Impact factor –

average number of times published papers are cited up to two years after publication.

Immediacy Index –

average number of times published papers

are cited during year of publication.



1. Is my paper statement concise and clear?

2. Did I follow my outline? Did I miss anything?

3. Are my arguments presented in a logical sequence?

4. Are all sources properly cited to ensure that I am not plagiarizing?

5. Have I proved my paper with strong supporting arguments?

6. Have I made my intentions and points clear in the essay?

Re-read your paper for grammatical errors. Use a dictionary or a thesaurus as needed. Do a spell check. Correct all errors that you can spot and improve the overall quality of the paper to the best of your ability. Get someone else to read it over. Sometimes a second pair of eyes can see mistakes that you missed.


Seminar/ Conference Presentations

How to Avoid the

Pitfalls of Bad Slides?


Tips to be Covered

• Outlines

• Slide Structure

• Fonts

• Colour

• Background

• Graphs

• Spelling and Grammar

• Conclusions

• Questions



• Make your 1


or 2


slide an outline of your presentation

Ex: previous slide

• Follow the order of your outline for the rest of the presentation

• Only place main points on the outline slide – Ex: Use the titles of each slide as main



Slide Structure – Good

• Use 1-2 slides per minute of your presentation

• Write in point form, not complete sentences

• Include 4-5 points per slide

• Avoid wordiness: use key words and

phrases only


Slide Structure - Bad

• This page contains too many words for a presentation slide. It is not written in point form, making it difficult both for your audience to read and for you to present each point. Although there are exactly the same

number of points on this slide as the previous slide, it looks much more complicated. In short, your audience will spend too much time trying to read this paragraph instead of listening to you.


Slide Structure – Good

• Show one point at a time:

Will help audience concentrate on what you are saying Will prevent audience from reading ahead

Will help you keep your presentation focused


Slide Structure - Bad

• Do not use distracting animation

• Do not go overboard with the animation

• Be consistent with the animation that

you use


Fonts - Good

• Use at least an 24-point font

• Use different size fonts for main points and secondary points

– this font is 28-point, the main point font is 32-point, and the title font is 36-point

• Use a standard font like Times New

Roman or Arial


Fonts - Bad

If you use a small font, your audience won’t be able to read what you have written


• Don’t use a complicated font


Colour - Good

• Use a colour of font that contrasts sharply with the background

– Ex: blue font on white background

• Use colour to reinforce the logic of your structure

– Ex: light blue title and dark blue text

• Use colour to emphasize a point

– But only use this occasionally


Colour - Bad

• Using a font colour that does not contrast with the background colour is hard to read

• Using colour for decoration is distracting and annoying.

• Using a different colour for each point is unnecessary

– Using a different colour for secondary points is also unnecessary

• Trying to be creative can also be bad


Background - Good

• Use backgrounds that are attractive but simple

• Use backgrounds which are light

• Use the same background consistently

throughout your presentation


Background – Bad

• Avoid backgrounds that are distracting or difficult to read from

• Always be consistent with the background that you use


Graphs - Good

• Use graphs rather than just charts and words

– Data in graphs is easier to comprehend & retain than is raw data

– Trends are easier to visualize in graph form

• Always title your graphs


Graphs - Bad

January February March April

Blue Balls 20.4 27.4 90 20.4

Red Balls 30.6 38.6 34.6 31.6


Graphs - Good

Items Sold in First Quarter of 2002

0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100

January February March April

Blue Balls Red Balls


Graphs - Bad




20.4 30.6




0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100

January February March April

Blue Balls Red Balls


Graphs - Bad

• Minor gridlines are unnecessary

• Font is too small

• Colours are illogical

• Title is missing

• Shading is distracting


Spelling and Grammar

• Proof your slides for:

speling mistakes

the use of of repeated words

grammatical errors you might have make

• If your English is not good, please have

someone else check your presentation!



• End your presentation with a simple question slide to:

– Invite your audience to ask questions

– Provide a visual aid during question period

– Avoid ending a presentation abruptly


Writing a Thesis

General Advice

• For most Students, the thesis is the longest manuscript they are going to write, so its very length is often the most overwhelming aspect of the task.

• Yet the task won't overcome you if you adhere to

the following advice.



Do not think of the whole task.

You don't have to "write the thesis"; instead, you have a series of tasks to perform, many of which you have probably performed in the past:

Do some research of the literature

Summarize and perhaps comment upon the literature that you have examined.

Perform some experiments or do some fieldwork.

Write up the results of those experiments or fieldwork.

Draw conclusions from what you have done.


Approach (contd..)

See how your results and conclusions fit in with the literature and work in your field.

Prepare into the format of a Research Article and submit into a suitable Journal for publication.

Put all these pieces together into a coherent

whole, following a format of the University or one that you will find in a Standard journal in your


Edit your document carefully for format, spelling, grammar, and mechanics.

Seen from this perspective, writing a thesis is merely performing a series of tasks with

which you are already familiar.


When to start writing the thesis

 One typical and costly mistake that thesis writers often make is trying to do all the

other (more familiar) tasks first (e.g.,

performing experiments, conducting the

literature search) before they write a word.

 This is not a productive approach.

 Start writing now, even if it is only your

random thoughts about what you'd like the

thesis to prove.


Try to write 15 minutes every day

This writing may be the extensive notes mentioned above, a description to yourself of the experiment you performed today, or perhaps thoughts about the project as a whole.

By writing every day you accomplish at least two things: first, you reduce anxiety about WRITING by proving to yourself that you can do it every day;

Second, much of what you write will probably be, either directly or indirectly, the source of material for your thesis.


How to proceed?

• Search through the literature, and keep comprehensive notes.

• Write long notes to yourself about how you think your research will connect to the literature you've read.

• These notes will do two things: first, they may be a valuable source of information later on in the process; second, they get you writing.

• In short, any task that you are performing

can be written about.


How Long Does it Take to Write a Thesis?

 Longer than you think. Even after the research itself is all done -- models built, calculations

complete -- it is wise to allow at least one complete term for writing the thesis.

 It's not the physical act of typing that takes so long, it's the fact that writing the thesis requires the complete organization of your arguments and results.

 This is also probably the first time that your supervisor has seen the formal expression of concepts that may have been approved

previously in an informal manner.


How the Ideas are conveyed to Words ?

 Students for whom English is not the mother tongue may have difficulty in getting ideas

across, so that numerous revisions are required.

 And, truth be known, supervisors are

sometimes not quick at reviewing and returning drafts.

 Bottom line: leave yourself enough time. A rush

job has painful consequences at the defence.


Develop Self Confidence

 Don't forget that you have written several successful documents before (or you

wouldn't be at the stage of writing a thesis).

 Regardless of what doubts you might have about your particular writing abilities,

obviously the faculty have felt that your writing is satisfactory.

 Look again at earlier documents you've

written to remind yourself of your successes.


One final note

• In deciding what goes where and what to

include, you will have to make many judgment calls. There are no cut-and-dried formulas for making these decisions.

• You have to think carefully about the purpose of your thesis and who will be reading it.

• Ask your thesis Supervisor and/or other

faculty members of the Department for

advice on any such issues.


How to organise the Thesis Writing

 Create a working timetable (work backwards from the due date)

 A study area

 Develop a regular work routine

 Create an outline of thesis chapters (structure)

 Construct a thesis template (formatting)




• Write your thesis from the inside out.

• Begin with the chapters on your own experimental work.

• You will develop confidence in writing them because you know your own work better than anyone else.

• Once you have overcome the initial

inertia, move on to the other chapters.



 Estimate the time to write your thesis and then multiply it by three to get the correct estimate.

 Writing at one stretch is very

demanding and it is all too easy to

underestimate the time required for it;

inflating your first estimate by a factor

of three is more realistic.


Importance of Title and Abstract

• Title should attract the interest of the reader

• Should give the “punch-line”

• Most readers will read only the abstract

• Abstract should provide complete

information and further attract readers towards the paper

• Articles are listed by title in databases


Tentative structuring process:

 Have a thesis (main aim)

 Write down all the things you've discovered since you started your thesis, insights, ideas, etc

 Organise these into groups of associated ideas

 Give a heading and sub-headings to each group of ideas

 Ideas should be linked and develop logically



Structure of a Thesis

1. Title page

2. Declaration by the Candidate

3. Certificate by the Supervising Guide(s) 4. Acknowledgements

5. Summary/Abstract/Preface


Table of Contents


List of Figures/Tables/Photographs 8. Main Text – Chapters of the Thesis 9. Summary and Conclusions

10. Future Scope of the Study 11. Bibliography/References 12. Appendices, if any

13. List of Publications by the candidate


Title of the Thesis

 The Title should be neither too long nor too short.

 It should be focused and interesting.

 It should include the keywords you might use to describe your work in a scientific paper or thesis-abstracting system.

 Try to use some verbs rather than a long

list of nouns.


Main Text

The Main Text, should see something like this (a) Chapter 1: Introduction

(b) Chapter 2: Review of the Literature (c) Chapter 3: Materials and Methods (d) Chapters 4 to n: Working Chapters (

There should be at least 3 working chapters


(e) Chapter (n + 1): Summary and Conclusions


• Introduction/Aim What did you do and why?

• Materials and Methods How did you do it?

• Observations/Results What did you find?

• Discussion What do your results

mean to you and why?

• Conclusions What new knowledge have you extracted

from your experiment?


Title of the Thesis in Full

Thesis submitted to the

Cochin University of Science and Technology

In partial fulfillment of the requirement for the award of the degree of

Doctor of Philosophy


Atmospheric Science

Under the

Faculty of Environmental Studies



Name of the Department/Institution

Month & Year of submission



I, (Name of the candidate), hereby declare that the Doctoral Thesis entitled “….” is my own work and that, to the best of my knowledge and belief, it contains no material previously published or written by another person nor material which to a substantial extent has been accepted for the award of any other degree or diploma of the university or other institute of higher learning, except where due acknowledgment has been made in the text.




This is to certify that the Doctoral thesis entitled (Title of the Thesis) is a bonafide record of the subject work done by (Name of the student) in the (Department/ Institution). He/She carried out the study reported in the thesis independently under my (our) supervision. I also certify that the subject matter of the thesis has not formed the basis for the award of any Degree or Diploma of any University or Institution.

Certified that (Name of the student) has passed the Ph.D.

qualifying examination conducted by the Cochin University of Science and Technology in (Month & Year).

Signature/Name/Date of the Supervising Guide(s)



• The Acknowledgements should include sources of financial support and all those whose help you have sought and got, and all those whose work you have directly built upon.

If any of your work is collaborative, you should make it quite clear who did which sections.

• Funding agencies providing Research Fellowships (CSIR/

UGC/ICAR/CUSAT/etc) should be acknowledged.


Table of contents

 The introduction starts on page 1, the earlier pages should have roman


 It helps to have the subheadings of each chapter, as well as the chapter titles.

 Remember that the thesis may be used

as a reference in the library, so it helps

to be able to find things easily.



An abstract must be self-contained. Usually they do not contain references.

Summary or Abstract should be of

approximately 300 words. (It should not exceed 700 words.)

The Abstract or summary should summarize

the appropriate headings, aims, scope and

conclusion of the thesis.



• Of all your thesis, this part will be the most widely published and most read because it will be

published in Dissertation Abstracts International.

• It is best written towards the end, but not at the very last minute because you will probably need several drafts.

• It should be a distillation of the thesis: a concise description of the problem(s) addressed, your

method of solving it/them, your results and



“The Seven Deadly Sins”

1. Data manipulation, falsification 2. Duplicate manuscripts

3. Redundant publication 4. Plagiarism

5. Author conflicts of interest 6. Animal Use Concerns

7. Human Use Concerns


There is no way to get experience

except through



• “Scientists are rate by what they finish, not by what they



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