Thursday, March 21, 2013

My secret

When writing academic papers:

  • Always use the appropriate jargon. It makes you sound knowledgeable and authoritative; this is 50% of the battle won.
  • Look at other people's references to find relevant references you can use. References help to make you sound like you did lots of work and reading, and are familiar with previous work done in this field; this is another 20% of the battle won.
  • Explain EVERYTHING -- the key words in your objective and research questions, why you chose that theoretical framework, why you chose that sample, why you chose that method of data collection, why you analysed the data in that manner, how you came to the conclusions you did, how your study is relevant or useful. Explanations make you sound like you have a basis for everything you say, which makes your findings and conclusions sound solid; this is yet another 20% of the battle won.
  • Be sure your analysis is thorough, and that your findings make sense and are presented logically, in an orderly manner. This is the final 10% of the battle won.

And there you have it; that's the way I approach my papers. (You should remember I'm doing qualitative and not quantitative studies.)

The reason I put the analysis itself at 10% is because if you have great analysis but cannot explain it well, meaning you don't use the appropriate jargon and you don't explain everything properly plus you don't put it in context by having the correct references -- then your analysis will be useless.

I use language like a weapon.

*Found this on a now-defunct blog of mine. First posted on 10 April 2008, when I was knee-deep in coursework for my Masters!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Just how my brain works

The only things I ever purchase on impulse (apart from food) are books and shoes. The more money a thing costs, the more I think about it and do some research... because buyer's remorse is not a good thing. Especially if a product costs upwards of RM200.

So IKEA is having a sale. I don't know how others choose their furniture, but this is how I choose mine (click picture for larger view):

Yes, I know some measurements are in inches and others are in centimetres. That's because all of IKEA's measurements are provided in cm, and while I'm generally a metric girl, for some reason when I bought my apartment I measured everything in feet and inches. I've NO IDEA what came over me. Thank goodness for unit converters!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Love affair

Found myself using the words 'resurgence', 'amenable', 'inundated' and 'traipsing' in various bits of writing recently. Am pleasantly surprised and unaccountably proud of myself :p  Not that I planned to be bombastic, but the words slipped out naturally, prompted by the occasion, and that makes the word nerd in me applaud, lol!

Since I started teaching, I've been constantly simplifying my speech, seeking the most common, easy-to-understand words when explaining concepts to my students. Sometimes I fear I'm losing my command of English. I've always been able to wield words like a weapon when I want to, and reach into my quiver to select one with the precise nuance which will hit home and convey exactly what I want to convey. It's a gift I've had for as long as I can remember.

But it's also a gift that can't be appreciated by all and sundry. It'd go *whoosh* over my students' heads, for example! So sometimes I hold back. I do this instinctively if I feel the other person is at a linguistic disadvantage. It's my way of sort of levelling the playing field :)  We might not be jousting, but language is about communication, so to me it makes sense to use the most efficacious mode of communication, even if that might mean restricting myself to the 2,000 most frequently used words in the English language. Yes, there is a list. You can go google it ;)

Thursday, March 7, 2013

It's just a car...

The problem with asking for advice is that sometimes the advice-giver is so... enthusiastic about it. So I really appreciated it when The Oracle said, "I'm just telling you this, but I won't be offended or think less of you if you choose to do something different," because that kind of reassurance is rare.

But now...! All I did was ask which brand of tyres I should consider, and this friend (not The Oracle) is trying to persuade me to change from 15-inch rims to 16-inch! And the price of 16-inch tyres is DOUBLE that of the 15-inch ones!

Sure, the car will handle better, although I'm wondering if I'll notice because, unlike some friends, I can't even tell the difference in engine performance when I pump different brands of petrol. It's petrol. It makes the engine run. The car moves. I get from A to B. Mission accomplished. I'm happy :p

I'm just not convinced that the additional financial outlay for the larger rims & tyres would be worth it to me. Which is quite apart from the fact that the expense would be considerably more than I've budgeted for. No doubt it's a 'nice to have', but is it a must-have? I hardly think so.

Now, how do I dissuade this extremely insistent friend?