Thesis Title

Title for a postgraduate thesis do matters as for ALL readers this is the first opportunity to know what the thesis all about. With just a few words, the title has to highlight the purpose of the study, which can often include content, outcomes and the important aspect of the strategy adopted to achieve the objectives. A poorly constructed title can mislead the reader into thinking the study is about something it is not, confusing them from the very start.

The thesis title must be descriptive and explanatory, and not general. Each word in the thesis title should carries meaning and purpose. This means that every word in the title should be elaborated in the thesis, thus it must be consistent. Therefore it is important to ensure that the title and thesis has a symbiotic relationship.

The technique of writing a good thesis title mainly focuses on how the components of the titles can be communicated to the reader. The components can be a single word or at most can be 2-3 words that convey something meaningful about the research. The components can be about the main theory or theories that  have been adopted, the chosen methodology, research design, population studied, location, variables etc. Obviously, for the title at most only two or three components need to be spelt out in the title.

The title of the thesis must attract the reader. Therefore I always recommends that the title should have the component element highlighted. To most reader the outcome of the thesis is very important as it is the links to ‘real world’ application’ of the research.

The thesis title obviously is not really fixed until you actually in the phase of writing the thesis (no more experiments and new results that may change your findings). Keep on questioning and examining your findings to ensure that you are able to highlight the right components of the thesis.

Lastly do ensure that the thesis title do not have any grammatical mistakes and words used are correct for the area of research. Avoid acronyms, abbreviations etc. unless those are very common for the area.  Use styles that have been adopted at the institutions and stick to the same style throughout your thesis.

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Back Again

After about two years, I’m back again to writing here.

Hopefully I will be able to stay… for longer this time around

Engineering Science

By definition Engineering Science is a discipline dealing with the art or science of applying scientific knowledge to practical problem.

In an undergraduate engineering curriculum Engineering Science is the basis for a thorough grounding of engineering basics for selected specialty in the senior years. The subject matter it encompasses is vast that involves the application of creative reasoning, science (physics/chemistry) and mathematics to real problems. In some university part of the engineering science subject are thoguht separately especially mathematics.

A good grounding in Engineering Science will reward learners with analytical skills, numeracy and practicality which will be of much use in engineering studies and professional engineering career later on.
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Design Engineer

Design Engineer is the term that is being used to describe an engineer that has been employed with focus on applying the engineering process. This covers multiple engineering disciplines including electrical, mechanical, chemical, civil and structural/building/architectural engineers. This uniting concept has made this career as a seemingly attractive proposition for engineering graduates from boutique engineering courses such as mechatronics.

Unlike Industrial Designers who may be responsible for conceptual aesthetics and ergonomics aspects of a design, the Design Engineer emphasis is on functional utility. The Design Engineer will work with a design team comprises of other engineers and other designers to develop conceptual and detail design of the product. The other engineers that may be included in the team are Planning Engineers who is more concern with Analysis of the process or product being developed and Test Engineer whose emphasis on evaluation and analysis of prototypes. Industrial Designers and Marketing personnel will also be involved in developing the product concept and specification. Manufacturing Engineer whose task is on how to mass produce the design is also a key personnel of the team.

As a Design Engineer, communication and teamwork are two essential skills required for the job. The Design Engineer have to good in the three areas of communication : communicate, negotiate and persuade. These are the key areas needed when Informing, Updating and Persuading colleagues and superiors. Depending on the organization reports will be in Oral or Written from, thus a Design Engineer need to be proficient in both.

The design process is information intensive and Design Engineers usually spend more than half their time engaged in various information gathering activities. Thus research skills is a core technical competence due to the critical nature required in discriminating the information gathered. This is on top of personal attributes, project management skills and cognitive abilities to succeed in the role.
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SMART Research Objectives

An important part of managing a research project is to set a clear and achievable objectives. This combined with a good problem statement will help to focus on the things that matter for the research. A good set of objectives will enable the researcher to articulate a comprehensive strategy (methodology) to solve the problem in hand.

Formulating research objectives will always start with the questions "What you actually want to achieve/solve/build in this research?". Solving a complex problem usually brings up a number of goals, complementary and non-complementary, which you will need to sort.

SMART model is a method to ensure that objectives that are written are well articulated and acceptable to examiners/evaluators/supervisors/reader etc.

Specific: Objectives should reveal exactly what the research will accomplish, and are written so that anyone can understand their purpose using jargon-free terms.

Measurable: Objectives should be written with specific measure to indicate that it is achieved.
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Achievable: Objectives should be possible with the knowledge and skills that the researcher has.

Realistic: Objectives should be realistic within the available facilities, time, funding etc.

Time-Constrained: Objectives should have a clear cut deadlines on when it should be achieved.
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Methodology for Introduction Chapter

Discussing research methodology in introductory section of a report or dissertation is very much related to the problem statement that has been discussed. The discussion should include a summary of method for data collection, product/experiment design procedure and approach adopted in performance analysis used when solving the problem. In this section it is also important to highlight special or novel method used in the research.

As this is an introductory section of the report/thesis the summary should be concise and the full description of the methods and analysis should come later in the appropriate chapter. A good method to summarise the description is using a diagram or flowchart to describe sufficiently the methodology.

It is also very important of note here that the research methodology should answer the research objectives outlined earlier. One of a popular technique adopted technique by a number of candidates is in the use a direct relation between one objective and one methodology (one objective will relate to one specific methodology). However, methodology is very specific to the type of research undertaken and in some cases this technique might not be possible.

Another important point of note for this section is in ensuring that the section is brief, the description should avoid putting in any mathematical formula, algorithms and listing of equipment. However, if the research focuses on those, then one can describe on how the research utilise the formula/algorithm/equipment.

Problem Statement

In an introduction to research the Problem Statement sub-topic are meant to focus the attention of the reader/team to the actual problem to be solved. A problem statement should be a concise description of the issues (highlighted earlier in Introduction/Background) before research is done to solve the problem. The idea is to bring together/focus the research to a particular purpose.

A good problem statement should answer these questions:
a) What is the problem? This should explain why research need to be conducted in the area.
b) Who has the problem? This should explain who need the solution, thus creating the client/customer/market. This will also answer who will judge whether the problem has been solved.
c) Following on (b) then the research will know what can the resolution be which is what the client needs (tool, technology, algorithm, product feature, product etc.).
d) A problem statement will form the basis of scope and limitations (in time, money, resources, technologies etc.).

The primary focus of a problem statement is to narrow the attention of the research. The problem statement should answer the research question (but not the research questions itself!) and briefly describe research gaps. It has to be noted also that if the focus of the problem is too narrow then it will stifle the creativity and innovation of the solution.

In research, the problem statement is part of the research formulation. It list what is essential about the research and enable the researcher to identify the project scope as well as the interested parties. The research problem statement should address all six questions: what, how, when, why and who.

Introduction to Thesis/ Dissertation/ Report

I have seen various style of thesis introduction (in a sub-heading of Background etc.), some good and some not so good. So what I been thinking what can be generally considered as a good introduction to a thesis?

What is introduction to a thesis?

Thesis introduction is the first part of the thesis. Generally it will describe two specific areas:
(1) Introduction to the Title / Topic

(2) Motivation for the research

Therefore to achieve (1) it is very important at this section in the thesis, you emphasis on the key topics for your thesis. Leave out the general word such as design, development, study etc. as at this juncture you are emphasizing on the topic itself.

Next, after describing the main topic of research it is very important to describe to your reader on why you undertake this research (2). It is expected in this juncture for an engineering thesis for candidate can quote statistics etc. to strengthen the argument.

As this is not a literature review, the quotes can be taken from general publication that discuss the issues/topics. It is not expected in the introduction sub-topics for a candidate to discuss various solution taken, but enough emphasize must be given so a reader will understand on the importance of the research.

What makes a good introduction?
A good introduction will make a reader want to continue reading the thesis. After reading the introduction the reader will have some background on the topic and will understand why you choose to undertake the research.

And the introduction shouldn't be too long.

What next?
After introduction to the thesis, the next sub-heading will be Problem Statement.

Tips:
Many candidates find that it is easier to write the introduction after you complete the latter chapter of the thesis.
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Abstract Writing

Abstract is one section of the thesis / report /paper that is often been overlooked although it is one of the most important part of the document as most reader will tend to look at this section be Abstract is one section of the thesis and report that is often overlook although it is one of the most important part of the document as most reader will tend to look at this section before reading the rest of the text. Abstract usually acts as a summary of work already completed and due to that it is bein used by prospective readers to decide whether or not to read the entire text.

It is important than one spend some time thinking and drafting the abstract since the quality of this document often solely responsible for whether or not your paper/thesis is accepted for submission. The abstract is literally 'a firts impression' to the reader and audience one that must want to make positively.

Typically an informative abstract will need to answer these questions in 100-250 words:
a) Why did you do this study or project? (motivation)
b) What did you do and how? (methods)
c) What did you find? (results)
d) What do the findings means ? (conclusion)

If the thesis is about new methods or apparatus, you migt also need to highlight on:
a) What are the advantages of the methods and aparatus ?
b) How well does it work?

A good summary should answer tose questions well, if it does not then you might need to rewrite the abstract until it does.
fore reading the rest of the text. Abstract usually acts as a summary of work already completed and due to that it is being used by prospective readers to decide whether or not to read the entire text.

It is important than one spend some time thinking and drafting the abstract since the quality of this document often solely responsible for whether or not your paper/thesis is accepted for submission. The abstract is literally 'a first impression' to the reader and audience one that must want to make positively.

Typically an informative abstract will need to answer these questions in 100-250 words:
a) Why did you do this study or project? (motivation)
b) What did you do and how? (methods)
c) What did you find? (results)
d) What do the findings means ? (conclusion)

If the thesis is about new methods or apparatus, you migt also need to highlight on:
a) What are the advantages of the methods and aparatus ?
b) How well does it work?

A good summary should answer those questions well, if it does not then you might need to rewrite the abstract until it does. A good time to write the abstract will be just after you have outlined the thesis/report/paper where everthing is 'fresh'.

A point of nite that in this section grammatical and spelling mistakes is not acceptable. So get someone to proofread your abstract before submitting them.

be yourself with skill

be yourself' is a phrase used often by counsellors, friends and others who wish you well. It is rightly so
However many of these well wishers forget to add the second part of be yourself, ' with skill' is another important element when you want to be yourself.what is ' be yourself with skill means'?
It is a skill acquired when you understand your own self, what is your shortcoming and what is your highlights.
It sound easy but unfortunately it is one skill that is very hard to acquire since it require belief to achieve that.
Why belief? Belief is one important element in oneself that make everything possible. To he youself with skill you need to understand yourself and prepare to accept what you are. When you can achieve that the journey to be yourself with skill can start.

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