) understand why it’s important b) Data chapters, where previously published data lend validity to your findings, or are at least taken into consideration as you interpret data c) Your conclusion, where you demonstrate how your entire story fits in with and adds to the framework of what has been done in the field so far…Or (yikes! Note that in Pubmed, you will need to go to “Advanced Search,” where the builder constructs the Boolean search you (Figure 1). Google scholar offers a similar citation alert service. I highly recommend a citation management program, such as Endnote. 2) Intermediate documents: the thesis/dissertation proposal and grant applications Think of your thesis or dissertation proposal and any grant applications as being a big first step toward the first chapter of your final document: the introduction.
), explain how your revolutionary, paradigm-shifting work has turned the field on its ear, opened up new avenues, and blah-blah…you get it. Pubmed offers another great strategy: you can set up citation alerts that notify you via e-mail every time one of these pivotal articles is cited. You can control how often you receive these alerts, or adjust later based on how inundated your inbox becomes. Go to Google Scholar, and click on “Alerts” (see Figure 2). Find out which program your advisor uses (see if he or she will let you install the program on your computer). Preparation of these documents entails a thorough review of pertinent literature to set the stage and explain the rationale for the research you are proposing.
, set goals and deadlines, and work steadily—not feverishly—toward that ultimate satisfaction of handing your magnum opus to the graduate school. The starting point for any newbie graduate student is to read boatloads of relevant papers so that you can learn your advisor’s repertoire of experimental techniques or areas of interest, what has been done so far in the field, what questions remain to be answered, and where your research will contribute. Setting up your search criteria using Boolean operators. ” This is where being organized will save you TONS of time.
The first three sections of this article are devoted to ways that you can get way ahead of the curve from the very beginning of your graduate program—BEFORE push comes to shove. Keep in mind that these seminal papers will be heavily integrated into your thesis or dissertation: a) The introduction, in which you give all the pertinent background to set the stage for research and make everyone on your committee (and beyond! Hopefully, your advisor will provide you with a few of the original papers that got the ball rolling. You can perform Boolean searches in Pubmed and Google Scholar (great tips explaining how to do this can be found at Boolean.pdf). I am a big fan of saving paper and not printing out reams of articles to be read and then stuffed into filing cabinets.
If at all possible, try to get your thesis printed off for your committee a day or two in advance.
This allows a cushion for the inevitable printer meltdown or copier jam.
Check out the previous papers from your advisor to get ideas on wording, and then re-work it so it’s your own (citing relevant papers, of course).
By the time you for-real start writing your thesis or dissertation, your methods chapter can be practically done already!
These copies should be clearly marked with dates in case you have to revert back to a prior version.
They should also be marked after being edited by your advisor or others.