Tag Archive: research

Loss of scientific thinking: What are some signs?

The combination of the appearance of professional respect for scientific rigor coupled with professional contempt for scientifically rigorous behavior is toxic, a poison that infects more activities in North America than the few I have pointed out here.

In Dark Age Ahead, published in 2004, Jane Jacobs discusses five major signs of cultural failure. It’s the last book the long-time journalist ever wrote, and it reads like a final warning.

The abandonment of scientific thinking is one type of cultural decay. Individuals and institutions have long had a tendency to avoid scientific inquiry, accept surface appearances without question, and use scientific data and terminology inappropriately. What’s worrisome is when there aren’t strong forces counteracting the decay.

When reading this section of Dark Age Ahead, I started thinking about examples I’ve come across in articles and other media that demonstrate an appreciation for a scientific veneer but not for scientific thought. Like the following:

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Six Amazing Research Resources Online

The Internet is an immense swamp, a terrain of bots, trolls, and magnificent treasures. People are apt to get lost in it and lean on unreliable guides for navigation.

Swamp

There’s a massive mess of information (and misinformation) online. Sources frequently aren’t reputable or easily traceable. Even when it’s accurate, the information often isn’t relevant for a specific research purpose. Picking your way through it requires some internet savvy and critical thinking, along with strong organizational skills.

Fortunately, there are robust sources of information available, and tools to help people stay focused and organized when conducting research. What research resources can you turn to online? They range from enormous databases to tutorials for writing academic articles and citing sources. The following are six resources to look into:

1) Digital Tools for Researchers

Geared primarily towards scientists, it’s a huge list of tools for gathering, organizing, analyzing, sharing, and writing about different kinds of data.

2) EasyBib: Finding Sources

The link leads to only one section of a massive guide on writing research articles. Under “Finding Sources,” EasyBib lists a variety of places to look up scholarly papers and statistics.

3) International Writing Centers Association: Writing Centers Online

Many on this mega-list are university writing centers that include tutorials about research papers and instructions on formatting citations. The Online Writing Lab (OWL) from Purdue University is one that I’ve relied on to doublecheck AP style guidelines.

4) The DiRT Directory of Digital Research Tools

DiRT categorizes these digital tools based on what you need, anything from visualizing data to converting files to annotating text.

5) Educational Technology and Mobile Learning: 10 Great Tools for Academic Research

Among their recommendations are Evernote, Zotero, and Mendeley. One of the items on their list is an additional list of tools for generating bibliographies.

6) Lib Web

Links to thousands of academic, public, and government libraries around the world.

(I’ll also throw in a link to WorldCat, which will help you find books, DVDs, and other materials in libraries near your home.)

Important to keep in mind…

Using these resources won’t necessarily steer you away from misleading information. There are plenty of scientific papers, for example, based on poor methodology and yielding doubtful results.

A while ago I wrote a post on evaluating the credibility of Internet sources. It may help you make sense of what you find in the swamp. Also, don’t hesitate to reach out to me for assistance with research, writing, and editing, as I have extensive experience with all three.

– Hila

(Image source: Wikimedia Commons.)

Six reasons your research abstract is poorly written

In January 2009, PhD Comics published a funny abstract template (Mad Libs for the busy researcher). It’s good for some laughs, though you might wonder if your own research abstract is any better.

Your research abstract is people’s first impression of your work. It has to engage them and give them a reason to keep reading. At the same time, it has to stand alone; even if people stop at the abstract, they still need to get a clear idea about the questions your research addresses and the main findings.

A poorly written abstract can obscure your important or interesting findings, discourage other people from looking more closely at your work, and decrease your chances of getting published and cited.

Why is your research abstract poorly written? The following are six possible reasons:

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Are you using credible Internet sources in your writing?

Abe Lincoln's advice :)

The Internet contains a wealth of information on virtually every topic. Whether or not that information is accurate is another matter.

You may be searching for different sources to improve the credibility of your business website or strengthen a point you’re making in an article. How can you increase your chances of using credible Internet sources?

The following are some points to consider:

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