RSS
 

Archive for the ‘Tips for Grad Students’ Category

Publish Your Dissertation

01 Aug

Publishing Your Dissertation: Begin with the End in Mind

In Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey advises folks to begin with the end in mind when undertaking any project.  Covey’s advice is especially relevant for dissertators. Often people say that you should write your dissertation and then revise for publication, either as a book or a series of journal articles.  I completely disagree with the standard wisdom given by well-meaning folks.  Instead, I argue that one should not write a dissertation unless one first has either a specific publisher for the dissertation as a whole or several journals for each chapter in mind before one writes. Furthermore, be sure it’s the best it can be by seeking the help of  dissertation editor easily found at a good dissertation editing service.

What is a dissertation?

A dissertation is an entry-level professional intervention in a scholarly body of knowledge or research. Writing a dissertation is a major investment of time, money (lost opportunity costs and perhaps hiring a dissertation editor), care, and, often, worry. So, if you’re going to make this investment, ensure that it will pay off by doing your due diligence before you write.

Do your due diligence

Do your research to ensure that the general subject of your dissertation is drawing scholarly interest and publication. You may have someone on your committee who knows your field very well and is a published ‘name.’ If you have such a person on your committee, you’re very lucky because he or she will know immediately if you have a “hot” topic. However, the reality is that you might not have such a person in your academic life. If you don’t, the onus is on you to see if the topic will be publishable.

Through your coursework, you should have been developing an awareness of your subfield. Ideally, you have already been reading heavily in it and know the relevant and major books and journals.  Ideally, as well, you’ve been attending conferences and have met the senior scholars in your field.

Don’t reinvent the wheel

One thing that you should keep in mind is to never try to re-invent the wheel for your specific topic. If it’s already been said by someone in the field, don’t say it again. While doing so might be an interesting exercise, it won’t get you very far in terms of publication.

A dissertation is NOT just a long seminar paper

If you are writing for publication from the get go, you have to be aware that, unlike your seminar papers, which were written to show a specific professor that you knew enough to get an A, your dissertation should be making a fresh intervention in a field.  Yes, you have to know the field well, but the primary purpose of the dissertation should be to say something new and interesting, not to demonstrate an understanding of the field.

Your dissertation proposal should amount to one of two things: either a book proposal or a proposal for a series of articles to be published in specific journals. If by the time you write the proposal, you can’t name a prospective publisher or journals that would be interested, then you might have a clue that you need to do some more research or change your topic.

Your committee is NOT your primary audience

When you’re actually producing the dissertation, always be thinking that you’re not writing as a student any longer (even though, of course, you are). Rather, you’re writing as a professional developing a voice and making an impact in a field. And, while of course you will have to deal with objections and concerns (and, sometimes, melodrama) raised by specific committee members, remember that you’re not writing primarily to please them. Rather, you’re writing for potential journal editors, peer reviewers, and publishers.

Keeping it real: Submit to your committee AND for publication simultaneously

One thing I found helpful when I was dissertating was to actually submit each chapter to a journal at the exact same time that I was submitting to the committee.  Thinking publication spurred me to write better and more quickly. And, yes, I actually had the experience of receiving an acceptance letter from a journal even before the committee returned the chapter.  While the acceptance letter was personally gratifying, it also helped to keep the committee members from going too far afield in terms of what they were going to have me revise.

Some parting suggestions:

In terms of the actual writing of the dissertation, here are some things to keep in mind.

  • Your dissertation is not primarily a document designed to show off your exhaustive knowledge of a subject or your ability to use every jargon word you know.  Rather, to be publishable, your dissertation should make an argument or series of arguments and support those contentions with enough background information, but not too much.
  • By all means, use specialized language when it’s appropriate to do so, but don’t go overboard, and, for goodness’ sake, be careful. Nothing blows your credibility more quickly than using those jargon words incorrectly. If need be, find a good dissertation editing service to polish it for you.
  • If you’re working towards publication, also be careful to avoid those “grand gestures” or generalizations about your topic or civilization itself. Somehow, many of us, maybe by reading bad scholarship written in the 1940s and 1950s, got it into our heads that scholars should make grandiose statements about entire disciplines or even nation states.  Remember that the only people who can make these kinds of statements are very senior scholars, who really do know everything and everybody in a particular field.  Newbie professionals can’t get away with the grand gestures. Save them for the end of your career.
  • Check our service that will transform your dissertation into a book: http://edit911.com/transforming-your-dissertation-into-a-book/

Conclusion

In conclusion, writing a dissertation can be a very fun and rewarding experience. This experience can be even more rewarding if, following the advice of Stephen Covey, you begin with the end in mind and map out a publication plan for your work.

 

The Dissertation Writing Blues

23 Apr

You’re on the home stretch.  Your committee has given you the clearance to begin writing your dissertation.  That light at the end of the tunnel is a bit brighter.  Now, the only thing that stands between you and your defense is a document that may seem to have a mass that is equivalent to that of Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary or that requires more paper than can be produced from an Amazonian rainforest.

This may seem insurmountable.  Believe me, it is not.  Aside from excellent time management skills, you can complete your thesis if you learn to strike a balance between writing and…well…not writing.  For the next few weeks, months, but hopefully not years, you’ll be living and breathing your dissertation.  You know your thesis better than any one, and writing may come easily at times; however, there will be times when your focus and clarity give way to the following:

  1. Self-doubt
  2. Dismay
  3. Anger
  4. Fatigue
  5. Sorrow
  6. Apathy

These aren’t in any particular order.  Actually, you may feel all of these at the same time.  This is why you feel like you’re going to go insane.  It’s OK.  Breathe.  Step away from the computer (hit ‘Save’ first).  It is at times like these when you need a serious distraction – something that completely removes you from your dissertation.  Or something that is completely mindless and removes you from reality.  I can only speak from experience, so here are a few distractions that were invaluable to me while I wrote my dissertation.

 

  • Internet games

They’re an easy and quick distraction.  You’re already in front of your computer, so why not?  Sit there, go blank, grow some crops, solve some puzzles, shoot some aliens.  Whatever floats your boat.

  • Exercise

Yes, this requires some motivation.  You may see this as more work, but the stress relief and clarity of mind that comes with regular exercise can do wonders during the dissertation writing process.  Make an exercise schedule and stick to it.  Running, resistance training, Wii Sports.  Again, whatever floats your boat.

  • Reading

Read for enjoyment, whether a new book or your favorite one.  If you’re sensitive to it, avoid the news.  It can be depressing.

  • Family

More than likely, your family knows absolutely nothing about what you’re studying.  Call or have dinner with your significant other, your parents, your siblings, or whomever, and take great comfort in the fact that, if you speak about your dissertation, no one will understand you.

  • Sleep

Need I say more?

Obviously, these are purely suggestions.  You’ll need to find what works best for you.  Writing your dissertation is just another of the flaming hoops through which you must jump in order to secure your Ph.D.  It certainly isn’t the last.  You still have to do the dissertation editing to comply with your institution’s formatting requirements, make revisions that appease your advisor and your committee, defend, and meet all the deadlines for graduation. You may even have to hire a dissertation editing service to help you finish up. But hey, at least the writing part is a flaming hoop that you can complete on your own terms

 

Top 12 Tips in Writing a Dissertation

08 Apr

Very often, when doctoral candidates complete their dissertations, they seek dissertation editors to give them guidance on the structure and organization of their writing. Such guidance can range from the document or chapter level to the individual clause level and includes proofreading for typographical and grammatical errors. However, no matter how capable your dissertation editor, the dissertation will be stronger if you consider the following tips early on during your doctoral studies.

Selecting a Dissertation Topic

1.     Find a topic that you love and care about. Choose a topic that you will be able to live with, think about constantly, and even dream about for a few years. When you complete the dissertation, you should be, for a brief time at least, the world’s foremost expert on your topic. In order to reach that goal, you must care about your topic enough to become deeply involved with it and want to know everything about it.

2.     Begin thinking about your dissertation topic from the beginning of your studies. Every course you take will require you to submit a paper or some sort of project. Try to make an original observation about the topic in every paper or project you submit. Doing so may result in a viable dissertation topic. Consider each topic available for you to write about in terms of whether you could live with that topic for an extended period of time, whether it fits with your long-range career goals, and whether you would really have anything original to say about the topic.

3.     When considering original research topics for your dissertation, don’t overlook the possibility of synthesizing subdisciplines. It isn’t unusual to find two different disciplines or subdisciplines that address the same problem on different domains or with different methodologies. Would using an entirely different methodology from another field reveal any new information about your area of interest? Can you build a bridge or make connections between findings from separate subdisciplines and view your topic from a new perspective?

Take Charge of Your Learning

4.     When taking classes and reading assignments, make a note of every term, concept, and reference to another work that you are not familiar with. Then, take the time to learn about unfamiliar ideas. Unfortunately, many people don’t learn how to be true lifelong learners during their undergraduate studies. If you haven’t learned how to facilitate your own learning and intellectual growth before now, then now is the time to learn this crucial skill. The ability to recognize gaps in your own knowledge and take steps to strengthen your areas of weakness is one mark of a person with a sound education.

5.     Learn all you can about research methods in your discipline. While research methods are broadly divided into quantitative, qualitative, and mixed methods, within those general areas are many specific submethods. Understand the methodology that is generally used in the subdiscipline you are focusing on and how it compares to other methodologies you could use. Learn to use the terminology correctly, making it part of your everyday vocabulary.

6.     When doing research on your selected topic, work on understanding and evaluating all sides of the issues, both in terms of research methods used and in terms of theories pertaining to your area of interest. Be open-minded when reading viewpoints that oppose your own, think clearly about why you don’t agree with an author’s stance, and build clear, specific arguments that directly address the points that you don’t agree with. Again, understand and learn to use terminology correctly.

7.     If you will be using statistics, consider auditing a stats course or, at the very least, invest in a good textbook on statistics. Learn to talk and write about statistics correctly and knowledgeably. Being able to input numbers into SAS or another software program and then run a function is not the equivalent of understanding statistics. For your use of statistics to be meaningful and professional, you must understand and be able to talk knowledgeably about population selection, the use of variables and forms of measurement, the appropriate equations to use for your analytical purposes, and what you have actually “found” or “revealed” as a result of the method or methods applied. You need to be able to explain why you are inputting certain numbers, where those numbers came from and what they represent, why a certain statistical function is being used, and what the results indicate about your topic. Practice applying your knowledge of statistics whenever you read about a study using quantitative data.

Organize, Organize, Organize!

8.     Set up a good organization system for your library of articles and books at the very beginning of your graduate studies. If you have hard copies of articles, invest in a small file cabinet and folders and file the articles according to topic, subdiscipline, or author name. Use a system that makes sense to you. If you can’t decide how to file a particular article, use a note system within your filing system to indicate the location of a file. For example, if you have an article about research conducted on the effectiveness of using live chat in online learning, but the article begins with an informative discussion about the methodology used, you may want to file the article with others addressing research on the effectiveness of using live chat, but, in folders that contain info on methodology and online learning in general, note the location of this file. (Make brief, clearly written notes on the inside covers of the folder or on sticky notes attached to the inside covers.)

9.     Learn and use good file management on your computer. Many articles today are available as PDFs. Such files can be searched for key terms, but you can’t search in an article if you can’t find it. Learn to create folders on your computer and nest them. For example, a folder on online learning could hold folders about specific theories addressing online learning as well as tools that can be used in facilitating online learning.

10.   As part of your file management, begin building a spreadsheet file (or a database if you have the software and know-how) of all the articles, books, webpages, and videos you have found. For books containing chapters written by different authors, create an entry for each chapter. Along with the authors’ names (ALL authors’ names) and titles, include the date, publication information, page spans for articles and chapters, original publication information (if applicable), main points about the source (thesis statement, research methods used), and the location of the item in your filing system. For example, “Paper-online learning-live chat” would indicate that the item is a hard copy in your file cabinet in the live-chat folder in the online-learning area or drawer, and “PDF-online learning-quantitative-transcript analysis” would indicate you have a file on your computer in the transcript-analysis folder that is within the quantitative-methods folder within the online-learning folder. If you accessed the item online, be sure to record the DOI (preferred by most documentation styles) or the URL for pages or PDFs at websites. You may also want a field that indicates the various subtopics that the source touches on. (For instance, an article on using live chat in online learning may be also be marked as having information on quantitative research methods and constructivist learning theory.)

Know Your Documentation Style

11.   Early on in your research process, determine the documentation style you will use. Your grad school or program may mandate a particular style, or you may be free to select your own. If you can select your own, learn the style that is used most often in your discipline. If the choice is still open, choose an author-date style (references at the end of the document and in-text parenthetical citations within the text) because it is the easiest and least time-consuming to use and is easily revised.

12.   Once you know which documentation style you will use for your dissertation, buy the appropriate manual and use it as often as possible for papers written in classes. Note that “documentation” styles include much more than simply how sources are cited. They often specify how numbers are to be treated in the text, how tables and figures are displayed, how sources are referred to (e.g., APA requires past tense when writing about a source while literary works cited in MLA are generally written about in present tense), and even which prefixes occur with hyphens and what types of phrases are hyphenated. Becoming familiar with the documentation style before you actually begin writing the dissertation will make your writing process much easier. Again, being thoroughly familiar with the documentation style for your discipline is one mark of having a sound education.

Taking the time to consider these tips early on in your graduate studies can make the process of writing your dissertation go more smoothly and strengthen the integrity of your work. Tips 4-12 can actually save you time when you move into that time-intensive period of writing parts of your dissertation and passing them to your committee for comments. These tips can also help you avoid embarrassment as a result of the types of comments your committee members could make.

The stronger your dissertation is before you send it to a dissertation editing service, the better your final product will be.

 

10 Steps to Writing a Research Paper in 5 Days

05 Apr

These steps do not need to be completed all at once (or even at all if you feel you’re all set in the rough draft department). Space them out over the next five days. If you sit down for about one hour a day between now and then, you will have ample time to write an engaging and effective rough draft.

Day 1

1. Write a tentative thesis statement that meets the following criteria:

Narrows your subject to an appropriate scope

Claims something specific and significant

Conveys your purpose

Offers a debatable point of view

2. Sit down for 30 minutes. Spend 10 minutes each on three of the following prewriting exercises:

Brainstorming

Listing

Clustering

Freewriting

Asking Questions

Journal Writing

Day 2

3. Spend 30 minutes searching through the online library to identify four more sources. Print them out. At this point, you should have at least 8-10 sources at your disposal.

4. Sit down for one hour. Read through your sources and for each, write a three-sentence summary and identify three quotes you could use.

Day 3

5. Sit down for 30 minutes. Write a 2-page informal letter to a friend, teacher, or other recipient (it won’t be sent), telling them what you know about your topic, what your position is, and why. Do not spend time on grammar or organization at this point – just write complete sentences. When done, put the letter aside.

6. Choose your four favorite sources. Develop a prompt for your topic similar to those used for in-class essays. For example:

In the near future, it is possible that robotics will replace many jobs that are currently held by humans. In his articles “Robots Prepare for the Battlefield by First Fighting City Traffic” and “Robot-Assisted Rescuers Seek Answer in Wake of Utah,” Larry Greenemeier describes how robots are being used to complete tasks that are too difficult or dangerous for humans. It is also feasible that robots will substitute for other humans in social relationships. In the article “Could Robots Become Your Toddler’s New Best Friend?” Nikhil Swaminathan relates the details of an experiment where toddlers befriended a robot and treated it like another child. Robert Epstein, in his article “My Date with a Robot,” shares his own experience of dating Repliee Q1expo, a humanlike robot.

Write an essay in which you compare the robot/human relationships each author describes, making sure to summarize each article briefly before quoting from it. Develop a thesis in which you put forth your views as to what extent you believe robots can replace humans in various facets of life, such as labor and social relationships. Support your argument with reference to all four essays, outside texts (books, films, television, news, etc.), and/or examples from your own experience.

Day 4

7. Sit down for one hour and respond to the prompt you have written, exactly as you would during an in-class essay. (Later, revise your response to submit as the synthesis essay assignment due on Tuesday.)

8. Read over the letter you wrote in step 5 and the prompt response you wrote in step 7. Imagine you have been asked to break down your topic into four smaller two-page sections. Create evocative titles for each section. For example:

Robots: Friend or Foe?

Crash Test Dummies Exist for a Reason

After Dinner, A Robot Does the Dishes

What Would I Be Able to Do Instead if a Robot Could Write This Essay?

Put the titles aside.

Day 5

9. Write an outline to determine the best way to organize your essay. Do not use the titled sections yet. Try to get by without them at first to see if you can.

10. Put your prewriting, the source summaries and quotes, the letter, and the synthesis essay into one document. Move the text around using cut and paste until all usable text has been organized following the outline. Fill in the blanks so that all outline points are addressed and the document reads like the rough draft of an essay. Edit for grammar and flair. Proofread and let go!

 

 

APA Tutorial

26 Mar

Here’s an excellent tutorial in the basics of APA: http://www.apastyle.org/learn/tutorials/basics-tutorial.aspx

 

The Top 5 Tips for Writing a Dissertation

25 Mar

Writing a dissertation can be an overwhelming thought for doctoral students.  For those students that are considering writing a dissertation, it may be helpful to consider the following tips:

Think in terms of baby steps

Many students can be intimidated by the thought of writing 100-200 pages of information. The key for the student to be successful is to work one step at a time and try not to let the overall project overwhelm them. Universities usually provide checklists with guidelines indicating what should be included within each chapter or section.  Some schools have templates that many use to help with formatting. Check out sites like www.bold-ed.com to obtain these templates. The template can help by having the table of contents and all tabs and page breaks set up.  They can also guide the students with suggestions about how much content should be in each section.

Pick a topic

For some, just picking a topic can be a challenge as many things may interest them.  When considering the five chapters that are required, sometimes beginning with Chapter 2 can help students narrow down their topic of interest.  Chapter 2 contains a review of the current research that is available.  While researching for content for Chapter 2, students learn what others have written about their area of interest.  It is helpful for students to read as many peer-reviewed articles about their topic as they can find.  It is also helpful to read previously published dissertations on similar topics.  The student should be looking for gaps in the literature, where more research is needed.

Pick a population

Many students are interested in doing quantitative studies.  The problem many students run into is that they want to study a very large group. Although this is an admirable goal, it can be very difficult to do.  Students should try to get results that are meaningful.  By narrowing down the population to a very specific group, it is much easier to obtain the data and it can dramatically reduce time and financial requirements.  For example: Instead of thinking about the relationship between emotional intelligence and women, students could narrow down the topic to study the relationship between emotional intelligence in women in a specific company or industry or town.

Have a good editor

One of the biggest problems students run into when submitting their papers is that they have not done enough editing. Perhaps you should consider employing a dissertation editing service.  The review board will be extremely picky about what they will accept.  Currently APA 6th edition is required by many universities.  When picking an editor, it is crucial that the editor has a strong understanding of APA 6th edition.  There have been many changes to the latest edition such as having two spaces after a period, heading changes and other important updates.  A good editor will know how to check the student’s paper for these issues. Doctoral students are expected to write in a scholarly tone.  There should not be any first person references; fluff words like however and therefore should be avoided.  When Chapters 1, 2 and 3 are written, they must be written in future tense.  Every time the student’s study is mentioned, it should be referred to as the proposed study and never just the study. Later, after Chapters 4 and 5 are written, the student will need to go back and change all chapters to past tense.

Have a good statistician

Not all students are statistically gifted.  Many schools suggest that students hire a good statistician to help with Chapters 3 and 4.  It is extremely important to have a good understanding of SPSS software; a good statistician can help with this.  If students do not know of a good statistician, their mentor may be able to suggest one.

About the Author:  Dr. Diane Hamilton’s formal education includes a Bachelor of Science, a Master of Arts and a Doctorate degree in Business Management. She is a doctoral mentor and currently teaches business-related subjects for six online universities. She is the author of The Online Student’s User Manual, How to Reinvent Your Career and It’s Not You It’s Your Personality.  She can be reached through her blog at http://drdianehamilton.wordpress.com or her website at http://drdianehamilton.com.

 

Defining Your Terms to Win the War of Words

14 Mar

Is there any kind of communication or conversation that we have to negotiate and deal with more than argumentation? I don’t think so. While performing dissertation editing, I always concentrate on the strength and soundness of the writer’s thesis or argument.

All communication is an argument of some kind

In a practical sense, who isn’t always arguing—excuse me, talking—with your spouse, partner, friend, boss, underling, or complete stranger in the tube or a bar or while standing in line for a table, tickets, or tram? Arguments—I mean, discussions, of course—break out routinely, nauseatingly, incessantly, as we homo sapiens tend to want our way, viewpoint, gripe or gut reaction heard, known, and heeded. Or maybe you don’t. Maybe you’re the passive, silent, non-confrontational type and you keep it to yourself. But it’s highly likely that your silence is just disguising a raging interior dialogue with the offending person who can’t hear what’s going on inside your head.

All those arguments and disagreements, conflicts and debates can be broken down into four types of claims, inferences, appeals, or approaches to whatever topic is being bandied about. It helps to understand yourself, if not the other person. We’re all coming from our own paradigm, our own set of assumptions, perceptions, biases, and experiences. To successfully argue, it helps to know where we’re all at, so to speak.

It all starts with definitions

So many contentious conversations and positions are stuck in park, frozen in stone, two fists striking at each other, knuckles cracking over sheer misconceptions about definitions. We’re arguing about two different things. We don’t define our terms the same way. You think a word, a concept, a subject means one thing, while your opponent or adversary thinks it means another. I even have such debates with the staff at my dissertation editing service. Even fellow PhDs regularly disagree about the exact meaning of certain terms or words.

The dictionary has multiple definitions of a word

As with the other three types of claims, we have to be honest with ourselves, go to the source, perhaps even a dictionary, to be sure we’re on the same page. Usually, it takes more than a dictionary. It takes articles, studies, books (plural) to straighten out the fundamental meaning of what we’re arguing about.

Take conservatism vs. liberalism. There’s as many conceptions of those terms as there are people on the planet. I was perusing Quora today (a great Q&A social media site) and that was one of the hottest questions du jour. What do the terms mean? You can’t even begin to intelligently and soberly debate the issues affected by the dichotomous terms until you know the person you’re discussing the issues with agrees with you on the meaning of the terms themselves.

And then there’s the denotation and connotation of the definitions

They lift (or lower) us into 3-dimensional chess match of meaning. How about pro-life and pro-choice? The entire flaming intense debate starts with the definition of life. Or how about this: Does pornography exploit women? Depends on your definition of “exploit.” And did you know that major land developers lobbied for years to have Congress rewrite the definition of “wetlands,” so that once the new definition took effect, what was a wetland and off-limits on Tuesday, became a non-wetland and was open for development on Wednesday?

The author is the authority

Definitions are written by authorities. There’s power in the pen. So when conducting your own thesis editing,pay strict attention to definitions.

 

P.C. and the War on Facts

08 Mar

I’m angry today, so I haven’t got time to be clever, cute, metaphorical, or entertaining in this blog. Why am I angry? I witnessed an example of Political Correctness (P.C.) that has me enraged and feeling helpless to combat.  It interrupted my book editing work, so that really ticked me off even more. I’m not even ready to put my exact thoughts on this specific incident into words yet. But I will discuss P.C. itself as a way of venting and informing.

No doubt some of you already know and understand P.C. pretty well. But, regardless, a good solid, well-composed primer never hurts. So here’s mine.

P.C. is a totalitarian, anti-American, anti-First Amendment imposition of a speech (and presumably thought) code upon people, with the express purpose of intimidating them into silence. It is a creation of certain political groups and powers, designed to stigmatize people who hold viewpoints that conflict with those currently in vogue and favor. If you hold any position that is deemed politically incorrect, you can be fired from your job, kicked out of a club or group, or even expelled from a college.

We are not talking about racial or ethnic slurs here; those are obviously ugly and have no business being uttered in civilized society. Once in a while we get some very prejudiced clients who come to us for dissertation editing or book editing. We turn them away. We brook no quarter for fools.  But what we’re talking about here are opinions, ideas, and/or political beliefs or positions about a variety of topics. Some groups and positions are considered “good” or “correct” while others are considered “bad” or “incorrect.” Look out if your views are considered “bad” or “incorrect.”  The media, some powerful politicians, “public opinion,” and various favored groups dictate who is P.C. and who is not P.C..

If this all sounds very mysterious, vague and difficult to understand, that’s because it is. How such ostracizing, stigmatizing, and judging of one’s rightness or wrongness can happen in America is a testament to how far our freedoms have eroded from the days of the Founding Fathers, who warned of such encroachments upon our basic civil liberties in many historic documents, such as the Constitution of the United States of America and the Federalist Papers. Various factions, backed by bands of litigious attorneys—most notably, the ACLU—now browbeat dissenters into submission through threats of lawsuits based on the flimsiest, most pathetic reasons, including “you offended me, so I’m going to sue you, or fire you, or both.”

The War on Facts is related to P.C. because basic facts no longer matter in many of today’s most important issues. What matters more are your “feelings” and “visions” and “beliefs” about subjects, regardless whether such feelings, visions and beliefs can be supported by cold hard facts. “That’s  my opinion and I’m entitled to my opinion” is the comeback mantra of those who usually cannot support their opinions with facts.

The P.C. crowd loves and even worships opinions and feelings over facts—for they often base their personal and political decisions upon them. If they “feel” you have “offended” them, for instance, then it doesn’t matter one bit that what you said is a concrete fact. If the fact itself is “offensive,” “insensitive” (that’s another favorite feeling of theirs), or otherwise “distasteful,” never mind that it is demonstrably accurate and true, you are judged politically incorrect and subject to their condemning wrath. Facts just do not matter if those facts get in the way of their political or social engineering goals.

In fact, the P.C. crowd hates certain facts because those facts disprove their theories and contradict their overarching objectives to remake the world in their utopian image. The reverse is also true: the P.C. crowd often makes up stories, perpetrates hoaxes, and tells absolute lies to support their points. When their lies are exposed, their common response is that “it doesn’t matter if what I said is true or not, it’s what I feel (or believe, or sense, or predict, etc).”

Again, I know the preceding facts may seem, to some of you, too bizarre to be true, but they are. I have seen many examples in my life of this outright deception and mendacity by the P.C. crowd. Just one example is this: a noted feminist who earns $5000-10,000 per lecture on college campuses, tells her adoring audiences this disgusting untruth: “All men are rapists.” That is the thesis of her speech to her largely feminist audiences. When told that such a statement is a lie, she says it doesn’t matter if it’s not actually true. What matters is that all men would be rapists, could be rapists, might be rapists, or don’t care about women being raped, and a variety of other rationalizing statements that fail to adequately change the fact that she calls all men—all men—rapists. The fact that all men are NOT rapists does not matter to her or her audience. The only thing that matters is her sick, twisted opinion of men in general.

We simply cannot allow the media, various groups, academic lunatics, attorneys, politicians, and the overall climate of intimidation and fear to silence us when we disagree with a position and/or wish to state facts that others may find unpleasant, offensive or otherwise politically incorrect. I make such all my thesis editors jump on and decry any such statements when they’re performing their thesis editing. Not all facts are created equal, but there do exist some concrete, indisputable facts about just about any issue or subject. It’s a portentous and potentially apocalyptic development for civilization as we know it when the factualness of concrete facts can be brazenly decried or even denied, while bald-faced lies can be thrown in our faces and declared to be facts.

 

Rhetoric: The Good, the Bad, & the Ugly

05 Mar

Here’s a seemingly innocuous but actually rather controversial subject: rhetoric.

Is rhetoric good or bad?

Bad if you’ve been victimized by a crafty rhetorician—either someone you bought a car from, or voted for in an election, or even dated or married, only to find out this man or woman was great with words, but the words were empty or deceitful or disingenuous. It’s also something to root out when performing dissertation editing, because scholarly writing demands the objective and formal use of language. But before we stereotype rhetoric, let’s define it. Starting with definitions is the first step in a careful, critical analysis. Always best to be sure we’re on the same page—definitionally anyway.

The 1st step in critical analysis: Define your terms

Rhetoric is the skilful use of language to persuade or argue. An early definition of to “argue” is to “clarify.” I love that because it implies that if I can just be clear enough, I should be able to persuade you to see things my way. Argumentation is, after all, a means of fulfilling desire.

Aristotle & Bill Clinton: Masters of Rhetoric

2350 years ago, Aristotle taught how to compose a convincing argument through his rhetorical triangle of logos, ethos, and pathos. Employing these three elements makes your case pretty compelling. President Clinton also was, and still is, a master of triangular argumentation. He never gave a major speech—perhaps not even a minor one or even an impromptu townhall reply to an audience member’s question—without triangulating his words. As he infamously replied to a Congressional inquiry regarding the stain on Monica’s blue dress: “It depends on what your definition of is is.” The funny thing is, he’s right.

Logos

Logos means the “word.” Quite simply, you have to use the right words. For example, our dissertation editing service examines the writer’s message for its internal consistency: your claim, contention, or thesis must be clear; your reasons must be logical; your supporting evidence must be factual. Aristotle designed a syllogistic structure to test the logic of an argument: from the premise, to the reasoning, and then the conclusion. It’s deductive; it makes sense.

Ethos

Ethos refers to the character or credibility of the author or speaker. Ethos is conveyed through reputation, credentials, tone, and style. It’s the way the writer/speaker refers to opposing views that shapes his/her ethical image that appeals to the audience. A speaker or writer creates that ethos by being knowledgeable about the issue, demonstrating fairness, and building a bridge to his/her audience by stressing shared values, assumptions, and benefits.

Pathos

Pathos refers to emotion—the impact of the message on the audience—its motivational appeal. A writer or speaker creates emotional appeal by using concrete language, specific detail, and personal experience. The issue is humanized through a moving, compelling anecdote, an actual example of how the topic impacts real people.

Face the facts: We are all rhetoricians

Tricky stuff or common sense? What salesmen and politicians do, or what you do when you want someone to agree with you? Both, obviously. We all do it, or wish we had the skill to do it. And what’s wrong with that? We should make our words and argument clear. We should demonstrate we’re credible authorities. We should show people what’s in it for them or how it affects them. Funny, though, isn’t it, how the word “rhetoric” has a negative connotation? Sheer hypocrisy, really. We condemn salesmen and politicians for their slick rhetorical skills while attempting to use those same tactics and strategies in our own daily communications. The fact is we’re all rhetoricians—to one degree or another.

 

Document, Don’t Plagiarize

29 Feb

Knowing when to quote and when to paraphrase is quite an art. Basically, you don’t want to string a whole bunch of long quotes together, with a few of your own sentences connecting them, and call it a researched essay. You want to use quotes sparingly, to support your points. Paraphrasing is useful, but be careful that you don’t find yourself endlessly paraphrasing and not writing much of your own thoughts and words either. When you do paraphrase, you often need to give a citation as well.

The guiding principle: Is it your prior knowledge or not?

You must cite even material you’ve paraphrased if that paraphrased passage—whether it’s a sentence or several paragraphs—is not your knowledge. The concept of ‘your’ knowledge is very important. It’s an honor system in which you acknowledge that as you are writing you are immediately referring to the material at hand. In other words, if you have to look back and forth from an article or book to the computer screen as you are working to put a passage in your own words, then you must cite it. But if you read something days before, and studied it, so that when you’re writing your essay you’re able to do so without looking at those notes or that article, then it’s become your knowledge and you need not cite it.

There’s one exception to that, however. And that’s if what you’re writing is an original idea or thesis. You must give credit to those who have influenced your thinking. For example, take the following sentence. “The Tubes was an early-punk rock band from the 70’s and 80’s.” That’s a fact and you need not cite your source.

However, take this sentence: “All punk rock originated with the Tubes.” That’s a thesis, an idea, someone’s opinion. In that case, you have to cite your source, giving credit to the person who’s making that claim.

Learn more so you can quote less

So…how do you avoid an overreliance upon quoting and paraphrasing? Don’t ask an editing service to do that for you. That’s cheating. Do your own research, reading, and studying to become knowledgeable in the subject, so that when you sit down to write, a lot of the material comes from you, from inside, and not from your notes and sources. You need to KNOW the subject well enough so that the words you type are YOUR words, your ideas…your knowledge.

Thus, that underscores the importance of really doing your homework… literally. Read and study the subject. Make yourself a legitimate expert in the subject. Then you’ll have something to say that’s your ideas, your words, not just the ideas and words of your sources.

Give credit where credit is due

Of course, to be truly professional you must meticulously document your sources. Why? To give credit where credit is due. To protect yourself against charges of academic dishonesty. To enhance your own credibility. And to provide your readers with the source information should they care to read more about the subject.