The Craft of Research. Book Review

The Craft of Research. Book ReviewI wanted to read further about research methodology, data collection, and on hypotheses and interpreting the data, and I found this book (‘The Craft of Research’): the title was suggestive, the description of the book looked ok, as its price as e-book, it also seems that it was selling well and the reviews were not bad, so I decided to try.

The truth is that I was hoping to find information about the process of conducting academic research, more than tips on writing the research draft or paper, so in part I was a little disappointed, but ok, it happens sometimes.

  1. Although the objectives of the book were ‘doing and reporting research’, I’m afraid is more focused on reporting and writing the draft.
  2. But even for this, writing the draft, I found it somehow weak, or at least like any the other books on the subject, such as ‘The Literature Review: Six Steps to Success’ or ‘How to get research published in journals’.
  3. I’ve also seen it too focused on unexperienced researchers, who would appreciate anything more or less elaborated and well-written to reflect on the subject and start developing their writing skills.

But instead, there are parts of the book that indeed are interesting and noteworthy, which are what I look for sometimes: some specific ideas about writing a paper, abstract, literature review, or even to disseminate it.

  • For example, it’s well exposed for the search of the bibliography, in case anyone needs some methodological basis to help selecting the literature, which I have not seen in any other book so far. I have to admit that I appreciate it because my approach is more intuitive, based on Google Scholar, the library of my Faculty, and then pulling out of references and books on the topic I’m researching.

I also have a bitter aftertaste after reading it because, for a simple European professor I found some parts of the book too Anglo and certainly convoluted: those that relate reasons with evidences, arguments, claim evaluation and warrants, one with some of the others and then all together, I’m sorry.

Research papers, English language and fair play

Research papers, English language and fair playA few days ago I was criticized ironically on the social networks (by a non-academic consultant) by the grammar of one of my blog posts, although I take much care of the English writing, of course, and I usually dedicate to it around 25% of the time. It made me feel pretty bad, but it helped me to reflect on the theme of research papers, English language and fair play.

Something similar can happen to non-native English speakers with our academic articles, with which I’ve never had trouble publishing in premier journals in English, the last one in a fist quartile Journal Citation Reports (ISI Web of Knowledge / Web of Science) indexed journal. It’s true that there was a peer-reviewer (I don’t know whether He/She was native or non-native English speaker) in one of them who told me something about the writing, but as I explained that I had sent it to edit the English (I had the bill), they didn’t say anything back again.

Papers should be written in English for two main reasons:

Those of us who are non-native English have a handicap here, but it need not be a barrier to disseminate knowledge. The world would lost much of the innovation and development if journals were not open to international scientists, and journals understand it this way, there could be no complains about it. Another thing is that the English required for the manuscripts is of first class, which is fair and reasonable but slows and lengthens the process of publishing in journals for non-native speakers.

In case you find it helpful, the process I use to write an article in English is as follows, because I understand that not writing well could in itself spoil the work and effort invested in a research:

  1. Once I have a revised and contrasted research draft in Spanglish (parts in English and parts in Spanish), I translate it fully into English, paragraph by paragraph, carefully reviewing the meaning of each sentence and making sure it is understood.
  2. Then I send it to edit the writing to a specialized academic editor on my field of knowledge.
  3. And, finally, with the reviewer’s comments, I correct and improve it.

Thereby I expect that my articles, and blog posts, are understood, are well written and transmit my research and ideas, not that they win a prize for literature or are compared with the works of Hemingway! On the other hand, I think that non-native English academics should also be given a fair chance in this publishing world, providing we observe the writing rules and don’t hide behind our limitations.

Poll: Is it really worth academically attending conferences?

Poll: Is it really worth academically attending to conferences?I know it’s a strong start, if it’s really worth academically attending conferences, but I really wonder about it. This is another one of the themes that surprisingly emerged when I started my career as a university professor: Submit dissertation / papers to international conferences is required to complete your research resume; and now I realize that in the future it will be necessary for obtaining further citations. Take that!

The process generally agreed to disseminate the result of a research paper is as follows:

  1. First, doing the research.
  2. After that, preparing a draft of the manuscript.
  3. Reviewing it with your peers and/or department.
  4. And then, sending it to a conference.
  5. To finally publishing a paper in a journal indexed on a first level database, as Web of Knowledge (Thomson Reuters), Scopus (Elsevier) or EBSCOhost.

This process makes sense and serves a clear purpose of testing the research paper, although the process may well be extended to more than 2/3 years since having the research finished. And it looks like as if designed to measure to insecure people who do not trust themselves or their work, and who needs to be given the nod everywhere possible before disseminating their results.

Also I haven’t very clear that all conferences are equal in terms of relevance, or at least there is no quality assurance or databases attesting them, as with journals. So it would be the same attending one or the other whenever international, organized by a reliable university or institution, with scientific committee and peer-review process.

Finally, before moving on to the poll, I also want to mention that you must be careful with the publication of proceedings; as Editor-in-Chief I’ve seen a publisher reject an article because it appeared on the website of an old conference, even though the rules of the journal allowed it.

Well, today I’m very interested in your opinion about the conferences you attend. This world is also changing, and each time I don’t feel like travelling and convincing people who don’t even read my work.

* It can be chosen several answers.
**Comments are highly encouraged.

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