PLANNING YOUR RESEARCH SCHEDULE

Planning your research schedule

  1. Choose something to research/write about that you are passionately interested in. I find that most of my research and writing tends to spring from wanting to find out more or understand more about a particular phenomenon that intrigues me. In explaining it to myself I end up explaining it to others, hopefully in a new and interesting way that is worthy of publication.
  2. Be organised – planning time use is essential when there are many demands on your time.
  3. Make sure that you set aside one or more periods of time each week when you devote yourself to research and don’t let other demands impinge on this time.
  4. So I can easily see what I need to do and by when, I use a white-board with a ‘to do’ list with tasks listed monthly and their deadlines. I rub off tasks as I complete them (usually with a great sense of accomplishment!). Very low tech, I know, but effective as a visual reminder.
  5. Plan your research in chunks: this morning, today, this week, this month, next few months, this year, next three years. Have a clear idea for what you want to achieve in these time periods and try to stick to this as much as you can.
  6. I don’t tend to think more than a year ahead when it comes to research outcomes I want to achieve, but I find it helpful to write up at least a one-year research plan at the beginning of each year. Some people may also want to prepare a 3- or 5-year research plan.
  7. Be strategic about every bit of research time available. Think about the best use of your time. Difficult cognitive tasks requiring intense thought often need a lengthy period of time, so plan to do these when this is available to you. Easy or less time-intensive tasks such as correcting proofs, editing or formatting a journal article or chapter for submission or reading some materials and taking notes can be fitted in smaller periods of time.

Making a start

  1. Use whatever research time you have to dosomething, however small the task.
  2. Make a start. Once you have an idea for a piece of writing, create a file for it on your computer and write down anything, however rough and however brief, even if it is just a provisional title and some notes about possible content. It can always be polished and developed later or even discarded if you decide eventually not to go ahead with the idea.
  3. Organise your writing into different computer files: articles in progress, submitted articles, accepted articles, conference papers, blog posts, book proposals, grant applications etc.
  4. Organise your PDF journal article collection under topics in files on your computer.
  5. If you are feeling unenthusiastic or have hit a wall – leave that piece of writing for a while and work on another piece of writing.
  6. If no external deadline has been set, set yourself deadlines and try to meet these as much as you can, so that you can then move on to the next piece of writing.

Getting the most out of your writing

  1. Use your writing in as many different ways as you can – conference papers, articles/chapters, books, blog posts. Turn the small (unrefereed) pieces into bigger (refereed) pieces whenever you can and vice versa. What starts out as a blog post can be later developed into an article, for example. Conversely some of the main arguments of an article can be used in one or more blog posts.
  2. Never let a conference/seminar paper stay a conference/seminar paper – turn it into an article/book chapter as soon as you can. If there is simply not enough substance for a piece that is the length of a journal article or book chapter, consider polishing and referencing the paper appropriately. Once it is at a standard where you consider it ready to be available to others, publish it on your university’s e-repository as a working paper. That way, anyone will be able to access the paper digitally and reference it.
  3. Decide on an appropriate journal as you are writing an article and tailor the argument/length to the journal’s requirements before you finish it.
  4. Once you think that you have finished a piece of writing and are ready to submit it, put it aside for a least a day and come back and read it again with fresh eyes. You will most probably notice something that could be improved upon. Once you have done this and are feeling happy with the piece, go ahead and submit. As another commentatorhas argued, you need to conquer your fear and send your writing off into the world: ‘we owe it to the words we have written to send them away’.
  5. Receiving feedback from academic referees on a writing piece or research proposal can sometimes be demoralising. Don’t let negative comments get you down for long. Grit your teeth and revise and resubmit as soon as you can, however tedious it feels. See this as an opportunity to make your piece the very best it can be. If the article has been rejected, take a good hard look at whether the referees’ comments are valid and if necessary, revise and then submit it to another journal. Remember that all successful academic writers have received negative feedback at times: that is simply part-and-parcel of academic writing and publishing.
  6. Rather than simply deleting material when you are editing a piece of writing, make ‘edits’ computer files into which to ‘paste’ this material when you cut it (I make several edits files under topics). You never know when you may be able to use this material somewhere else.
  7. Think about how one writing piece can lead to another as you are writing it.
  8. Make sure that your abstract is well-written and will lead others to your work (see herefor guidelines on writing an effective abstract).
  9. Keep on top of the latest research published in the journals you use for your research. One easy way to do this is to sign up to email alerts with the publishers of the journals and you will be notified by them of the contents of each new issue.

Connect for inspiration

  1. Inspiration for research can come from many places. Attending conferences and seminars and reading the latest academic literature in your field are all extremely important, but so are other strategies. As a sociologist, I have generated many ideas from listening to good quality radio programs, reading newspapers and my favourite online sites and blogs regularly and engaging in social media such as Twitter and Facebook with people interested in the topics I research (see more on social media at no. 25).
  2. Connect, connect, connect. Publicise your research and make connections with other researchers as much as you can. Make contact with others working in areas related to your interests even if they are in different departments or in other universities. Join relevant research networks or start your own.
  3. Strengthen your online presence. Think about using social and other digital media to promote your research, engage with the community and make academic connections. Set up a profile on Academia.edu at the barest minimum. Make sure your university webpage is kept up-to-date with your latest publications and research projects. Write blog posts (if you don’t want to commit to your own blog, do guest posts for others’ blogs or for online discussion forums), sign up to Twitter and relevant Facebook pages, put your PowerPoints on SlideShare, make Pinterest boards (see here for my introduction to social media for academics).
  4. Use digital bookmarking sites such as Scoop.it, Pinterest, Delicious or Bundlr to save interesting material you have found on the web (see here for a discussion of using tools like these for academic work).
  5. Use a computerised online reference manager such as Endnote, Zotero or Mendeley. Get in the habit of loading citations straight into this each time as soon as you come across them.
  6. Think carefully about who you collaborate with on research before agreeing to do so. Good collaborators will add immensely to your own work: bad ones will make your life difficult and you won’t be happy with the outputs you produce.
  7. Seek out the advice or mentorship of more experienced academics whose research you respect.
  8. Take regular walks/runs/bike rides. This will not only keep you physically fit but will also provide a mental space to think through an argument or come up with new ideas. Some of my best ideas have come when I have been in motion and my thoughts are unencumbered.

About the author:
Deborah Lupton is a sociologist in the Department of Sociology and Social Policy, University of Sydney. She is the author of 12 books and many research articles and chapters on topics including medicine and public health, the body, risk, parenting culture, childhood, the emotions, obesity politics, and digital culture.

AFRICA NEEDS YOU

AFRICA NEEDS YOU! CALLING ALL AFRICANS AND AFRICANS IN THE DIASPORA:

“Capacities are not the same as capabilities. We have lots of capabilities; but we need capacities,”

……………………..Carlos Lopes, United Nations Under-Secretary General and Executive Secretary of Economic Commission for Africa.

Developing Africa is not the sole responsibility of one man or institution, it requires the concerted efforts of all stakeholders with good intentions and interest in the region, working in collaboration for the common good.

And, so all should and must be encouraged to play their part Through the use of their knowledge, skills and experience; Contributing in ways they know how to, but positively.

Whether by discussions that proffer practical solutions or by advocacy, and mobilising the people;

It could be through organising events that touch on the key issues;

Or through remittances; Investing in the continent is another great way to impact Africa as this creates the much needed employments especially for the rising young population; and others are quite satisfied with volunteering – mentoring, teaching or training;

At the heart of this lies the critical individual concern for economic interest and personal safety . This is very important and there is nothing wrong with (people that hold) such views.

As charity, they say, begins at home and therefore, if I must give I should at least have. True?

Currently, there are only about 20,000 scientists and engineers serving the 1 billion African population However Africans, Africa needs about 2.5 million scientists and technicians to ensure it achieves sustainable development.

Meanwhile, USD$5.6 billion is been spent annually to recruit over 100,000 non-African expatriates.

What then is the role of the Africans in the Diaspora? And what would you do as an African Professional?

You have a key role to play. Yes!

Why not share your knowledge and contribute where you have a BIG say and unlimited opportunities?

And because bridging the knowledge gap is a key solution, we encourage all to come and do what they know how to do best

Let us help to turn the tide around by taking action now, this minute to achieve a Developed Africa

We invite all Africans, Diaspora Africans and friends of Africa to come together.

It is time for selfless service to achieve the Africa we all talk and dream about.

By IMPARTIN .

http://www.impartin.com

WELCOME TO THE IDEAS BRIDGE NETWORK

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The Ideas Bridge Network is an Ideas Development community sponsored by the Focus on development Africa Initiative to engage the youth and middle aged in in depth  Research, positive and creative thinking leading to development of ideas that work. Topics of concern are raised and participants are invited to make meaningful contribution that will put forth solutions to imminent challenges and enhance human and economic development.

Also we take offer free ideation sessions for creative youth with innovative ideas, especially from the rural communities. We make your dream come true by developing your ideas into an accomplished reality. Our areas of interest include;

  • Education and Learning
  • Food and Water safety, Hygiene and Sanitation
  • Health Care
  • Information Technology
  • Energy and Power
  • Agriculture and Food security
  • Unity in diversity
  • Economic development

Our Ideation/Idea development sessions run for 12 weeks. To join, send an email to info@fodafrica.org

During Debates and discussions, Participants are expected to make contributions void of offensive and derogatory statements.