Cliodhna McCormac, James Davis, Pagona Papakonstantinou and
2012 | 120pp | £18.99
As an undergraduate, taking the first steps into research can be daunting. Gone is the security of the teaching labs where the protocols have remained unchanged for decades and the results are a foregone conclusion. Having your own research project, with no idea of what to expect, requires a whole new set of skills in project management. In Research project success, a team of authors from the universities of Ulster and Surrey try to help students tackle the task ahead.
The book is primarily aimed at undergraduates starting a research project. However, much of the advice applies equally well, if not more so, to those embarking on a PhD. The advice on background reading before choosing a supervisor and on conducting a thorough literature review is even more important when starting a project that will stretch on for years.
The authors give a lot of useful advice for selecting a project, reviewing the literature, referencing, writing the dissertation and giving presentations. However, with so much focus on these aspects, there are only four pages dedicated to collecting data. While the advice given on this is important, such as asking about the quirks or limitations of your instruments, there is a lack of information on making progress on the project. Time management and efficient note-taking are crucial for any project to succeed, yet these are given little attention.
The authors’ approach is very casual, making for a book that is easily read and digested. Much of the advice given could be considered common sense, but it doesn’t hurt to be reminded from time to time. First time research students, and even final year PhD students, would do well to read this book to understand the standards expected for a dissertation.
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