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How to write a Discussion chapter for your thesis or dissertation

Dr. V

WhatDoesItAllMean-300x115I noticed that the Discussion chapter is one of the hardest to write, especially when you are so close to the results and your head is wrapped up in all the data. Writing the Discussion chapter requires taking a few big steps back and seeing the big picture. For that reason, I often write it with my eyes closed, without looking at the results. Or I ask students to imagine they ran into a friend or colleague at a coffee shop. They don’t have the manuscript or slides on them. They just need to explain to the colleague, without using numbers, or tables, or figures – just narrative – the following:

  • what they did (briefly)
  • what they found – what were the significant, memorable findings?
  • what do the findings mean? – what does it mean that X was rated as 4.61 and Y was rated as 3.93?
  • do the best…

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The shortest paths to happiness. Literally

There is not only one way…. There are many…. Just need to be willing to explore 🙂

ideas.ted.com

Figuring out how to walk quickly from A to B is easy. Just plug two addresses into your favorite map app, and off you go. But sometimes getting to a place as quickly as possible isn’t the priority. At least, so thought Barcelona-based Yahoo! Labs researcher Daniele Quercia (TED Talk: Happy maps). Along with two colleagues, Rossano Schifanella and Luca Maria Aiello, he decided to try and code a mapping algorithm that could recommend a “happy” route.

What? How? By using metadata from social media photos and by getting thousands of volunteers to vote on images of a city’s streets, the team built a model that can suggest beautiful, quiet and happy routes. So far, they’ve applied the happy model to high-trafficked areas of Berlin, Boston, London and Torino. Take a look:

Boston-HappyMaps

Fast route: 4 kilometers (47 minutes)
Happy route: 4.5 kilometers (55 minutes)
Why this’ll make you happy: The happy path takes you from the city’s Humboldt…

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How scientists make people laugh to study humor

Time to Laugh

ideas.ted.com

If you search on the Web of Science database for papers on the emotion of fear, you’ll get back 6,477 published papers. Search for papers on laughter and you’ll get a paltry 175. Why the disparity? Well, one reason might be that laughter, like other positive emotions, feels less important than negative emotions. Sometimes people think that laughter is a ridiculous, trite, pointless topic to research — and somehow not the sort of topic we should study with Science with a capital S.

I’m a cognitive neuroscientist who works on vocal communication, and I (perhaps unsurprisingly) disagree. I have started to look into laughter in more detail, and I think it’s a fascinating social behavior it is essential to study (here’s an article I wrote for The Psychologist, a paper for The Journal of Neuroscience, and another for Cerebral Cortex). However, there is another reason why it is extremely…

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Ever thought of publishing your data?

Share Data

The Thesis Whisperer

PhD students can make a bigger impact by sharing their data, but this requires more mature data management practices. You have an oppotunity that other’s before you haven’t: to be focus on data alongside publications as a valuable output of research. Richard Ferrars and Amir Aryani of the Australian National Data Service tell us how it all works.

Screen Shot 2014-07-26 at 11.05.22 amPhD students can make a bigger impact by sharing their data, but this requires more mature data management practices. Data is valuable. Data is a resource to be exploited. It can lead to new collaborations, new publications, new grants. Here are five ways to create value from data:

1. Shared open data means more citation: share data

The internet has changed how we do research. Researchers can now so easily find, extract, analyse, and share research data like never before. Such potential has found a voice in an ‘open data’ movement affecting…

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How do I start my discussion chapter?

The Thesis Whisperer

On Twitter this week two people asked me for advice for starting the discussion chapter of their thesis / dissertation (I’m going to use the word thesis from now on because I am Australian). I didn’t feel up to answering in 140 characters or less, so I promised a post on it today.

If you are feeling anxious about the discussion section rest assured you are not alone. It’s an issue that comes up time and time again in my workshops. There’s no one answer that can help everyone because every project is original, so I thought I would offer a few thoughts on it by way of starting a conversation.

Evans, Gruba and Zobel, in their book “How to Write a Better Thesis”, describe the discussion chapter as the place where you:

“… critically examine your findings in the light of the previous state of the subject…

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Pumpbeat

PumpBeat

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