How Proofreading saved Venugopal a year in his PhD

Your guide would help you throughout your PhD, but do not expect that all practical advice would necessarily come from the guide. As it happened in the case of Venugopal. When he was doing his PhD from VTU, his guide was supportive and supervised efficiently throughout. During the final year, when he was closer to thesis submission and final viva, his guide told him to prepare well for the viva and suggested tips to handle the defence well. However, like how I said before, not all practical advice would come from your guide. He did not mention him about thesis proofreading.

Venugopal was in touch with other scholars from the university and during his regular interactions with them, he understood that it was very important for him to get proofreading done for his thesis. He acted pro-actively upon some wise advice and took external help from experts for thesis proofreading. And to his surprise he discovered that many of the sentences in the thesis were meaning just the opposite of what he wanted to say. This was largely because of English being a second language for him, sometimes he made the wrong choice of words or sequencing of the sentence which completely turned around the meaning of the sentence. Other than that minor spelling and typo errors also altered the meaning of the sentences. Here are some example paragraphs from Venugopal’s proofread thesis:

In the short term, output in the goods market is determined by the level of consumer demand. The demand for goods is itself a result of a number of different factors including the confidence that consumers have in the economy (which says whether they are happy to spend on non-essential goods or would rather save for the rainy days they may perceive to be ahead), as well as fiscal and monetary policy.

The major defining factor that we will consider here is the disposable income. Naturally, the more disposable income a person has, the more they will spend and the more goods they will consume. Economists usually consider that a (positive) linear relationship between disposable income and consumption exists of the form

It came as such a relief to him that the external and internal reviewers did not have any issue with the quality of his work and his thesis got cleared in the first go itself.  He thanked that good sense prevailed on time and he took the right decision to go for proofreading. Else, surely the completion of his PhD would have been delayed by a year, at least.

So, to get perfection in your thesis and to ensure your articulation is impeccable, meaning what you want to say, proofreading is a must!

78% of manuscripts submitted to web of science journals are rejected due to English issues. Know how to avoid common language errors in your document.

It is a known fact that the quality of an article can be made or ruined on the fundamentals of its spelling, punctuation and the grammar associated with it. A good paper can be further enriched with effective language and at the same time, in contrast, use of poor or faulty language can make the document look puzzling, blurred, and disordered.

As a researcher when you submit documents for publication, you must be aware that most of the papers are sent back or rejected straight from the desk of the editor because of grammar or semantic issues.

Some of the main language errors that are made by researchers are:

  1. The typo errors: Typos are common to find in documents. This is despite the fact that we have loads of spell check tools available. If your document is loaded with a lot of typos, surely it is carelessness on your part. The best way to avoid the typos is to use a spell check that is relevant to the content of your document. In addition to doing that, you must manually scan it to identify any errors that got left out in the computerised process. Giving your brain and eyes a gap of a day or more is a good idea as it allows to look at it with a fresh perspective and mind-set.
  2. Using the wrong word: The clarity of the word meaning and its relevance to context is very important, so you got to make sure that the choice of words is very appropriate. Often because of the wrong choice of words, the message doesn’t come to the reader in the way that it is intended. The best way to solve this problem is to keep a dictionary handy so that when you feel unsure of a particular word, you can check its meaning and relevance. If you are an ESL scholar, you can always have a third person read your document and give relevant feedback.
  3. Using excessively long sentences: Using complex and very long sentences is not an uncommon thing seen in scholars. With research, and its theme in itself being complex most of the time, it is important that the sentence structure be simple and easy to comprehend. You can avoid this by making a conscious effort that the sentence structure of your write up is kept uncomplicated. The rule that is applicable globally, is about 25 words maximum in a sentence.

The Importance of Feedback

Feedback is a significant and productive contribution in the creation of a good quality thesis. Researchers need to seek feedback and use it in their research. Ph.D. is away from regular lectures, tutorials or classroom sessions. Most of the work that is done is the initiative, and the effort of the researcher himself. It is independent decision making only with some broader guidance from the end of the supervisor. Not all the initiatives lead to success followed by regular and timely feedback. It is important to understand whether the effort and energy are getting used in the right direction.  As a scholar, you need to take an initiative to meet up with your supervisor and ensure that his feedback is getting used towards improvising the quality of your work.

Remember that just casual interaction is not good enough. You need regular, focused, and timely supervision so that it is actually fruitful for the improvisation of your content. Let us discuss here the different areas of your dissertation, where you need to get feedback from your guide:

In the formative stage:  At this stage, you may want to discuss ideas so that you can know that they are feasible, practical, and result oriented. The experience and expertise of your supervisor would be needed here to ensure that the foundation of your thesis is strong and result oriented.

The middle years: By this stage, the results would have started to produce, and you get to know what is the best methodology and approach to analyse your results. Some things which are not working, or are the hurdles and obstacles in your journey, you need to identify them at this stage and remove them from the further effort of your research. You must specifically, and directly seek from your supervisor the input regarding whether or not your results are going in the right direction.

At the later stage: This is very crucial. At this stage, your supervisor can judge the quality of your work, and suggest how you can present it better or embellish it with add on to make it ready for approvals and clearance.  The suggestion given by him may not occur to you because you have not faced it before, and he has the experience and expertise which you don’t have at this stage. The quality of work can be enriched, and improved by the right feedback at this stage.

Why is it important to teach during your PhD?

Teaching during the course of your Ph.D. is not a mandatory requirement of the course at most of the places. It is a decision which is subjective to the researcher as well as the supervisor. Depending upon the environment you belong to, your teaching options may vary. Some of the departments offer the choice of doing seminars, while others give term long or even yearlong teaching assignments. Quite many research scholars take up teaching jobs during Ph.D. for monetary as well as experience related benefits. A lot of guides encourage their scholars to take up teaching assignments in the final year of their Ph.D. By the last year of their course, they are largely free from the task of research, and thesis writing. It is always advisable to go by the advice of your supervisor, primarily.

 As a research scholar, for the future, if you are sure that academia is your calling then getting some teaching experience is surely the way it should go. However, even if you are looking for a career in the corporate, teaching exposure would help you to build up your communication skills, time managing skills, and at the same time train you to be imaginative and flexible at the same time. An effective and focused teacher at the university level is always on a mission. Though he knows his focused goals of teaching, there is always scope for the unexpected to creep up and that surely is a learning experience for all.

 You may feel that time is an issue for researchers as they are anyways fighting against time to complete their research on time.  But you can handle it by doing some strategic planning. With some consistent effort on a daily basis in planning and preparation, surely teaching assignments can be accommodated easily in the schedule of a scholar.

Not everyone is made of the mettle to teach so you must ponder over the idea before you jump into teaching as a profession. If you feel that teaching isn’t your forte, you can also explore the option of becoming a mentor for the students. It is also a fulfilling and learning experience, and also a great help to distressed students or students in need of guidance and support. By and large, taking up some teaching jobs during the doctoral tenure wouldn’t make you lose anything, and surely make you have an insight into the profession. Just ensure to follow your guide’s opinion.

Proofreading can alter the fate of a thesis. How?

Many years of hard work, research, lengthy discussions, investigations, and experiments go in the creation of a Ph.D. thesis which is the key requirement for a Ph.D. degree. With all this going behind the creation of a thesis, there is still an element of risk of rejection and failure when the thesis is submitted for review at the University. The reasons for rejection can be one or many of these, faulty grammar, spelling and punctuation flaws. All the details that the researcher puts up in the thesis must reflect accuracy and authenticity. With such high level of quality standards required for a good thesis, at least another set of eyes should go through it, particularly for the purpose of proofreading and editing.

The proof-reader, an expert in improvising the quality of the thesis gives tips to the writer to improve the thesis with respect on repetitions, titles, headings, etc. the suggestions that are given help the scholars to enrich the quality of the thesis and give more appropriate headings and sub-headings.

Proofreading comes to more help, at the last stage of Ph.D. writing.  When they are nearing the final submission, an expert helps in sailing through it more smoothly. Researchers must never ignore or show negligence towards proofreading. Each and every word, page, and element of the thesis should be checked thoroughly so that none of the errors go unnoticed, but the document is conforming to the guidelines given by the university. An experienced proofreader is always the right person to do this.

A lot of universities do not offer the Ph.D. scholars with guidelines and academic support. Because of this, the researchers fail to meet the unspoken standards of quality laid by the university, and it expects from the scholars for good grades. Many times the grades of the researchers suffer because of this and proofreading by a professional agency comes to help and rescue here as it meticulously and critically examines the document, identifying the inconsistencies that exist in the content and formatting.

Lastly, when you are on the last leg of your Ph.D., there are numerous deadlines to be met and living by all of them takes a toll on the stress level of the majority of students. The best choice here would be to get expert hand involved in the proofreading task so that the document is improvised to the best of its potential with suggestions that can further help the scholar to improve the thesis.

How to choose the best Dissertation Writing Company?

There is a glut in the market of dissertation writing companies. Students are often seen struggling to decide for the one that is best for them. These kind of services are surely desired by students and come in very handy to them because students, particularly scholars are trapped in so many activities and schedules which makes it very challenging for them to take up the writing work of the dissertation. Getting the writing work outsourced is helpful and important but what is more important to decide is, that it is the right choice for you, from among so many options that are available.

By paying attention to two simple things, you can ensure that the dissertation company that you are choosing is the best option for you:

Experience and Background: This is the first and the most important thing that you must check when you are finalising a dissertation writing company. The kind of experience the company has in this field is very important. This is crucial because the availability is so much and you wouldn’t know that many of them who have a virtual presence do not have a sound physical system to rely upon. Hence, it is essential for you to ensure about the history and the experience of the company, completely.

Competence and Skill: Being profession is integral for a good writing company. They need to be someone who can stick to time commitments, quality expectations and other specifications that you give them, without you actually being after them, all the time. The way they handle their work for you, talks a lot about their level of professionalism and competence. In addition, their level of skill is also very important. You have to ensure that the company is able to meet your needs appropriately and are able to give you the productivity that you so desire. The level of expertise in any dissertation writing company would come from the pool of writers/editors and proof-readers that they have. Good and professional companies are very particular about hiring the right kind of people and making sure that they are the best in the industry, and are well versed and updated with the changing requirements of the academic arena. Sometimes, as clients, when you are looking out for companies to do writing work for you, you may get tempted to go for the one that is offering a cheaper quote without actually going in the background of its experience, competence and skill. That may not be a wise approach.

Things about writing that no one else would tell you about….

Most of the people who are doing their PhD, are intending to be in academics, where what they talk in the classroom will be more important than what they write. Ironically, still, to be able to qualify to be become an academician, you should have done your PhD.

Only when you start your PhD degree do you realise that writing, which is integral to research, is no way similar to passing an exam. Though, for all your previous academic endeavours, it has been the requisite for a successful journey.

You would find a great deal of advice online and offline, about how and what to write, but first thumb rule to adopt for life is, that one never really becomes an expert writer. You keep practicing and you keep improving. That is the journey of a writer.

If you are a parent, then I can tell you that writing has some similarities to parenting. Like, only after becoming a parent, do you realise what it means to be one, only after starting to write, can you know what it means to become a writer.

Still there are a few things about being a writer, which no one would ever tell you about. Here are they:

  • The medium that you start using to write becomes your addictive medium and it is very difficult to switch over mediums. Like, if you are a pen and paper writer, you may find it very difficult to move to a computer to write and vice versa.
  • Once the writer bug in you is awakened, and you are involved in it in body, mind and spirit then it shows everywhere. From body aches to arm twitched arms, your brain starts to stay unaligned with your body clock. You may get the best of ideas at the wackiest of hours.
  • If you are a professional writer, you also got to be a professional digital trouble shooter. With so many software and bugs that are present in the virtual world, and to add to that being able to handle formatting, editing and other concerns on the machine, you got to be not just good at the creative part. Have your technical antennas also ticking.
  • Writing is exhaustive, physically yes but mentally too, equally. So much of creative exploration of your mind tires it and you need to give time to both, to rejuvenate and come back in their productive best state.

How to revise content and structure appropriately?

Revision is surely required in research papers. After the first draft is the first time that you sit to revise the content of your document and then the same exercise has to follow a couple of times in the subsequent stages. The changes that you make in the document could be related to the content or the manuscript of the document. When you sit to revise the content of your document and structure, the key thing to keep in mind is that there should be no gaps in the content and a logical and easy to comprehend structure is maintained.

Revising the content of your document:

  • When you are revising your content, make sure that all inaccurate information that is related to data, discussion or citation related issues is corrected.
  • Ensure that the description of the concepts and techniques is sufficient and complete. Whatever additions or modifications are required, should be made at the appropriate places
  • All the inconsistencies  in the document should be looked  for and removed
  • If you have missed explaining any technical terms and if their use is extensive in your document, you should do so by adding them wherever required in accordance with the scope of your document.
  • Small things, such as full forms of abbreviations and acronyms should be given when they are mentioned for the first time itself. Then on in the document they can be used as short forms wherever required
  • Remove all superfluous content from all places

After having worked on the content, the next thing is to work on the structure of the document. Some of the restructuring intricacies adopted can greatly impact the quality of your document and improvise its impact from the first stage where you have written it.

Revising the structure of your document:

  • The introduction must necessarily have a brief roadmap of the manuscript that guides the reader through the document. In case it is absent, incorporate that as the first thing in the structure
  • Make sure throughout the document you have given the required headings and subheadings. If you haven’t done that, make sure you provide them at the right places
  • The document must follow a flow and any deficiencies in the document must be removed or rectified as per requirement
  • Sometimes in the beginning of the writing process we include sections or content, that may be irrelevant and may need rearrangement or deletion because it may seem irrelevant or not required now
  • Put the figures and the tables in appropriate order

When you   would have done all this, you would have created a document that is more worthy of reading and would win more appreciation and accolades.

It is important that researchers are socially savvy!!

Academic effort is in abundance in the life of researchers and it’s no use if all the effort remains hidden and doesn’t come in public eye. The more is the visibility of the work of a researcher greater is the enrichment of his work. A lot of universities have identified this and therefore are far more focussed than before in establishing their public presence. But some amount of endeavour is expected from the end of the researcher as well on regular basis and it surely has a lot of positive impact on their lives. This positive impact is not restricted to their professional life only but has a positive impact on their personal lives as well.

Internet gives innumerable opportunities to people to interact with others. There are community groups, industries, focussed groups and they have their own special and focused interest area. If a researcher involves himself here, a positive relation can help him to have a lot of   opportunities, ideas and also enhance their professional network in many ways.  If you are socially savvy on different platforms, digitally and otherwise, you would expand your audience and at the same time a leave an impression about yourself and your work potential. Always remember that networking is very important for researchers and each and every contact could be the gateway to newer and better opportunities.

In addition to giving you multiple and diverse platforms, being socially active and savvy is a great motivation booster as well. Feeling demotivated is a phase that comes in the life of the most expert of researchers and often isolation is the cause of this.  But if you simultaneously work around establishing your presence on a public platform, there is no way that your morale would go down and you would be able to always find one or the other source to draw your inspiration. You also get a vent to share your frustrations and joy, thus subtracts your sorrows and multiplies your joys.

Being socially active as a topic remains incomplete if we don’t talk of social media and the kind of role it plays in people’s social engagements.  Various social networking sites such a twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook are great platforms for discussing experiences and achievements. Each of these option has its own benefits and one should not miss onto it.

Researchers must always remember that research, academia and public presence go hand in hand. You cannot move ahead unless you use all of them to your advantage. So what are you waiting for?

How to make the best slides for your research presentation?

A researcher has varied roles to play.  They must know how to work at all places, labs, library and the fields as well. They should be versatile in their skills to be not just good readers and writers but also good presenters. When you have results in your research, you go to show them to others.  When you have to transfer your research results on a PPT, you need to know a few things in advance:

Reduce the text quantity: When you are presenting, your audience has to listen to you. The thumb rule for a presentation is to keep the text as less as possible.  This is because, if the slide has too much of content, then invariable the audience starts to read the text on their own and does not concentrate on what you are saying. Try to keep the text as less as possible on the PPT. That is important.

Incorporate pictorials:  think of images that you can include in your PPT. this is because looking at the picture, the audience is able to focus more on what   you are saying. As long as the picture is able to establish connect between the topic and what you want to say then it is a great way to bring down the clutter of the presentation.

Do not over load new information:  when the reader has to read on his own, he is able to control the pace on his own. However, when he is listening to your presentation then the control of the pace is with you. It is not a good idea to show all your text at one else the reader would mentally move ahead from where you are. Graduate slowly in a step by step approach rather than in a way that the information starts to bounce up on the reader.

Take note of the formatting requirements:   there are a lot of formatting considerations to take care of while you are preparing a presentation. The text should be in such a font and size that it should be easy for the audience to read. There should not be any spelling or typo errors. There should be enough space between the lines, make use of bullet points wherever necessary. Keep a light toned background and place your content in such a way that audience sitting at a good distance can also find it visible in a good enough way.