Friday, June 18, 2010

MECHANICS OF RESEARCH WRITING



By: R.K. Singh



pp.: 188, Price: Rs. 98.00
ISBN 978-81-7977-377-2




List of Contents:

Academic Communication : Some Characteristics
An Approach to Style
Interactional Process Approach to Academic Writing
Research and Writing
General Format and Referencing
Writing Abstracts
On Using Punctuation
Summing up

For details, visit:
http://prakashbookdepot.blogspot.com/2010/05/mechanics-of-research-writing.html

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Book Review: Dr S.M. Mehdi

Mechanics of Research Writing by R.K.Singh. Published by Prakash Book Depot, Bara Bazar, Bareilly-243003. 2010. Price: Rs. 98/-, pages 182. ISBN 9788179773772

As we all know that University Grants Commission is emphasising on and encouraging through different means quality research in higher education and learning centres of the country. Measurements have been taken and schemes are being launched for making research useful and relevant, minimising the chances of plagiarism and making efforts to bring the cut / copy-paste era to an end. There are books in the market written by renowned scholars but sorry to say that most of them deal with the subject (Research Writing) rather vaguely, making it more complex. And as a result, when the scholar go through them, he become more perplexed rather than developing a clear view of the subject.

The author, who himself is a renowned Indian English poet and has a marathon career of over four decades of teaching and research writing and supervising, has written the book deriving from his personal teaching experience and interaction with researchers in various disciplines. The book is meant for the postgraduate and doctoral level students involved in research writings. The structure of the book is such that it is helpful not alone during the writing process, but before and after also.

First chapter of the book deals with the characteristics of academic communication, or should I say the characteristics which are necessary for effective presentation of the research text. Communication through writing can be made by educated persons only, and this fact alone is enough to understand the importance of written communication, more so, when we are talking about research writing. Dr Singh points out:

‘…you need a different kind of awareness to be able to write with objectivity, accuracy, and restraint in a rhetorically suitable format, expected in academic or research writing.’ (pg. 2)

and

‘The way you write to organise information or knowledge on a subject reflects the nature of your research and professional etiquette.’ (pg. 3)

The author has beautifully explained the structure of a paragraph. As the paragraph is a unit of the whole work, if it is written according to the suggestions made, then the whole work will be fruitful. Dr Singh opines: ‘Good paragraphing is a prerequisite for a well developed, coherent piece of discourse.’ (pg. 6)

The author has recognized three types of competences, namely - subject, organisational and linguistic. Dr Singh maintains: ‘….the pressure for research and the lack of linguistic and organisational skills conspire to produce only poor quality documents.’ (pg. iv, Preface to the First Edition)

Second chapter of the book is all about the style and the suggestions extended by the author are such that when you go through them, a feeling comes that there is some teacher beside us who is instructing. The hints given are of foremost importance, mixing psychology with the writing technique.

There are three stages of academic writing process– pre writing, writing and post writing (chapter three). All of these stages are explained with great zeal by the author with the help of brilliant examples about manuscript preparation. Beside these, the names of some of the research journals useful for research writing are also recommended.

In chapter four, onus is laid on planning for quality work. Types of research are given a hint of and an idea is given about thesis writing. Plagiarism is elucidated with very good examples. In my view, more pages could have been attributed to this median chapter by elaborating types of research more clearly.

Referencing, abbreviation and bibliography are very well defined in chapter five and several examples are there for better clarity and understanding for learners. The MLA, APA and MHRA styles of referencing and citation are given with numerous examples. It is very good from the point of view of a research writer that he can find all the three important styles at one place, in one chapter. How to use non-book materials and referencing electronic sources are also there in the same chapter. 105 important abbreviations and reference words (including 31 Latin abbreviations and reference words) mostly used in research writing are given by the author. Initialisms and acronyms are explained with examples. 2 examples of bibliography writing and 9 examples on writing research papers are also there.

Abstract writing is clarified in chapter six. Abstract of research article and that of a conference paper are dealt with separately and the procedure of writing abstract is presented graphically.

Chapter seven explains about different punctuation marks. The use of commas, semicolons, colons, exclamation, dash, italics, period (full stop), question mark and ellipsis is explained by the author. It is a fact that punctuations can change the meaning of the sentence and suitable punctuation marks make the language more impressive and clear. In the words of Dr Singh:

‘.....(punctuation) helps the readers get not only the exact shade of meaning
But also the tone and feeling you want to communicate.’ (pg. 165)

This book is not just a book but seems like a guide as from phrasing sentences, punctuation marks and paragraph formation, it instructs us how to prepare bibliography and write abstract, which abbreviation has to be used where as well as styles of citation (referencing). At last, I would recommend that anyone who is involved or going to involve in research writing should have a copy of the book.


--Dr. S. M. Mehdi
c/o Dr. I. H. Rizvi
'Rizvi Manzil',
97, Kanghi Tola,
Bareilly 243003, UP

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