An eye for types of research. And a nose for a research question.

The following is an exercise that I had my students do after explaining to them the different types of research. Over the years, I have enjoyed my Research Methodology classes the best, but this particular section on types of research proves to be the one where I have done well to throw my students’ minds up and over and beyond a bar, and made them go after their minds. This is the session where Jane Goodall, nanoparticle synthesis and Rajinikanth (for the first time this year) all enter my classroom in a bid to expand my students’ minds and make explicit the different kinds of research.

The second exercise in the Exercise Sheet was intended to make the students look for research questions in the news pieces they normally read.

The same file in MS-Word format can be downloaded here: types-of-research.

Un-jargonising jargon

The 8th point of discussion in our 17 Views of Research is as under:

Research involves a lot of jargon.

To explain what jargon is, I had another little exercise sheet with me. This sheet contained abstracts of three research articles. I chose these three abstracts with a specific reason in mind. The first abstract (which is not an abstract per se, but the opening paragraph of the article) is from Current Science. As the name indicates, the journal publishes results from all disciplines in science. The USP for choosing this ‘abstract’ was that it contained terms (protein content, total N, colorimetry, near infrared reflectance spectroscopy) that a Chemistry student could definitely make sense of. The second abstract is from Journal of Physical Chemistry B. But this particular research pertains to Monte Carlo Simulations, which is a rather rarefied domain in Chemistry research. The third abstract is from a Mathematical journal, and was chosen for a non-Chemistry point of view, while not being completely divorced from Science.

The idea was to present this exercise sheet to the students, have them read the abstracts and write a very brief note on what they understood in there. But the way it turned out in class was that I ended up reading the abstracts to them, and the students  then came up with their verbal impressions of the abstracts.

In their attempts to verbalise the abstract content, the students were in essence simplifying the technical discipline-specific terms into everyday language. With a little help from me on what Monte Carlo Simulations entailed, the students could un-jargonise the second abstract as well.

We didn’t have much success with un-jargonising the third abstract, except for getting a general idea of what the research was about. This was precisely my intention to enable them to understand that jargon is discipline-specific.



The Exercise Sheet used in class can be downloaded here: jargon – abstract


17 Views of Research

This was the exercise my students and I did in the second  Research Methodology class. The first class accounted for an orientation to what they could expect in the course, which included a discussion of the syllabus.

The second class hour was divided into three exercises. Exercise 1 was meant to invite the students to define research. It was understandably to get an idea of what they thought research was. This was their ‘learned’ idea so to think.

The way I have striven to handle this course is to make my students unlearn what they have gleaned from over the years of their education. It hasn’t always been easy, but it definitely has been fun.

The Exercise 2 in this exercise sheet was an attempt to make them discuss about the 17 points given therein. This made for an enthusiastic participation from the students, and also gave me the chance to elaborate more on what research is, and is not, taking on on their inputs.

So yes, after this exercise the students had to come up with their second definition of research based on the class discussion of the 17 points in Exercise 2.

After this had been done, the formal definition of research was presented to the students.

This was one of the best exercises I have had thus far in my Research Methodology Class in making my students think, making them present their case, defend their point, to logically debate with others, and finally to see the light, so to speak.

The Exercise sheet follows here.

17 views of research


The same exercise in the MS-Word format can be downloaded here: 17 views of research

Research Methodology

So, am finally putting to practice what I had been meaning to do for the longest time now. Creating pages on here for the courses that I offer; this one, is for Research Methodology.

The idea is to put up my course material, assignments and assorted reading/reflection material for the courses. It’s been more than two months since the semester began, so the first few posts would be for material that has been already covered in the class. This could be the repository my students (and others interested in this course material) can come back to for revision or some such reason.

Comments are welcome.