Dissertation Guides

Karen Fleet, our librarian in PPLS, has sent through a list of books on how to write dissertations that are available (at least temporarily) through DiscoverEd. To access this list, go to our Learning Resources site, select “DiscoverEd lists” from the menu at the top, and click on “Dissertation guides”. For a more general guide to academic writing, check out Booth et al.’s The Craft of Research (see “The fundamentals” for a description and a link).

PPLS Writing Centre Quantitative Workshops

The PPLS Writing Centre is holding its annual workshop series for MSc dissertation writers. These workshops are aimed at students who are doing quantitative research and are not sure how to write it up or visualise it effectively.

These workshops have both been held in two prior years, but have been newly adapted to online delivery by their creators, Fang Jackson-Yang and Andres Karjus. Because the “live” sections of these workshops are preceded by asynchronous online activities, you must sign up well in advance, so please pay careful attention to the dates. In past years, these workshops have filled up quickly, so sign up now if you’re interested by clicking on the date/time you want to book. Even if a workshop is full, sign up anyways: doing so will put you on a waiting list and will also let us gauge interest in a third round of workshops.

Writing in Quantitative Research (Fang Jackson-Yang)

This series of workshops is designed to show you how to write longer psychology essays with introduction, methods, results and discussion sections.  This workshop was developed with the guidance of psychology teaching staff and tutors, and will include activities throughout. Each round is preceded by videos and a forum activity.

Make sure to sign up for all THREE sessions in the round you choose unless you specifically want to attend fewer.

Round 1 (sign-up deadline: June 30)

Survey link to be sent on Jul 1 for completion by Jul 3. Videos to be sent on Jul 6.

Live workshop (Intro/Methods)
Jul 8 11:00-13:00
Live workshop (Results/Discussion)
Jul 9 11:00-13:00
Live Q&A session
Jul 10 11:00-13:00

Round 2 (sign-up deadline: July 14)

Survey link to be sent on Jul 15 for completion by Jul 17. Videos to be sent on Jul 20.

Live workshop (Intro/Methods)
Jul 22 11:00-13:00
Live workshop (Results/Discussion)
Jul 23 11:00-13:00
Live Q&A session
Jul 24 11:00-13:00

Explore and visualise your data in R (Andres Karjus)

In this workshop, you will learn how to use R to produce informative, beautiful, and reproducible graphs from your data. No prior knowledge is assumed, all the software is free, and installation instructions will be provided. The introduction, online video, and exercises will start two days before each Q&A session.

Live Q&A session (sign-up deadlines: Jul 5 and Jul 26)
Jul 8th 14:00-15:00
Jul 29th 14:00-15:00

Resources for MSc dissertation writers

This post is to make sure you’re aware of the resources for MSc students writing dissertations.   Of course, writing a dissertation is never a stress-free experience, but we would like to make sure that you’re adequately supported.  Accordingly, we’ve extended our offerings and will be organising a series of events to help you finish up.

1) One-on-one appointments

First, I’d like to remind you that PPLS Writing Centre one-on-one appointments are available in the summer months as well.  You’ve each been given three hours per month to talk with PhD tutors about your work.  You’d be welcome to bring in sections of your dissertation.   Make sure not to let your June hours expire.  Don’t forget to reserve your July/August spots as early as possible to avoid disappointment.

As always, the booking form is available in the “Appointments” tab (https://writingcentre.ppls.ed.ac.uk/appointments/).  Note that these sessions are not for proofreading – the reason we’re here is to make sure that you communicate your ideas in a way that matches expectations in your subject area.

2) Help with statistics

Students tackling quantitative work for the first time can run into all sorts of problems when analysing and interpreting data.  While you should always consult your supervisor first about questions of *what* to do (analysis planning), we can help you figure out *how* to do what you want to do (implementation).

If you need that sort of help, click on the “Request help (stats, etc.)” tab (https://writingcentre.ppls.ed.ac.uk/more-help/), choose “PGT DISSERTATIONS” under “Statistics help for student researchers, and tell us about your project.  Once you’ve submitted your answers, they will be passed along to our PhD tutors and, in some cases, the Teaching Fellows for statistics.

Please be aware that it will take some time for your query to reach the right person.  The turnaround time could be as high as 2 weeks in some cases.  Make sure to request help well in advance of when you need it.

3) Writing and statistics workshops

In late June and early July, we will be running a series of workshops on writing quantitative reports and visualising data.  These workshops were developed by senior tutors working for the centre, and will, of course, be held online.  Exact dates will be announced within a week.

4) Programming

If you’re using jsPsych to collect data online, you can ask a PhD tutor for help with your code. These appointments are booked using the same interface as the writing appointments (https://writingcentre.ppls.ed.ac.uk/appointments/). Make sure to select “Programming – jsPsych” as the appointment type.

5) Learning resources

Don’t forget about our new Learning Resources site (https://uoe.sharepoint.com/sites/PPLSLearningResources).  We’ve gathered links to online resources that include past dissertations, skills training, and help with online data collection.  We’ll be adding new resources later this month – expect an announcement in a week or two.

As always, write me if you have any questions.

Get organised

Do you spend a lot of your time worried about all the things you have to do?  The PPLS Skills Centre has collected a set of video courses on getting organised.   You might want to try “Getting Things Done”, a 30-minute course that presents a systematic way to get your to-do list out of your head so you have mental space to concentrate on actually doing your work.  You’ll get that time back and more. For this collection and others, visit the “Developing your skills” section at the PPLS Learning Resources site on SharePoint. If you need to get access to LinkedIn Learning, visit “The Fundamentals“.

Training for online experiments

Social distancing will probably be in place for a while, so it’s important to think about how to carry out experiments in a way that doesn’t put anyone at risk. If you’re an MSc student, you’ll have already heard about the various options that are available to you from the PPLS Postgrad Hub on Learn. But these options are also important for PhD students who are working on long-term projects. And third-year undergraduates might want to start thinking about getting ready for next year.

That’s why our SharePoint site has a section dedicated to ways of recruiting participants and carrying out appointments online. Have a look and see if the work you want to do can still be carried out.

PPLS Reading Clubs

Students near McEwan Hall
[photo by Laurence Winram]

Did you find something new to read in our PPLS DiscoverEd lists last week? Did you go through the first chapter of a book, get excited about continuing, and then… forget to return to it? Try making a reading club so that you can stay motivated and talk about what you learn with others in PPLS. If you’re not sure who to invite, let us ask around for you. Just pick out a book, create a discussion area, and tell us about it so that we can advertise it to everyone else. Instructions and tips are available at https://uoe.sharepoint.com/sites/PPLSLearningResources/SitePages/How-to-form-learning-communities.aspx.

Finding new books to read

We all know that people have been stocking up on groceries, but there hasn’t been as much news about stocking up on books.  But that’s just what happened in late March: book sales jumped (see  https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-52048582 and https://www.theguardian.com/books/2020/mar/25/book-sales-surge-self-isolating-readers-bucket-list-novels).  Lots of people are catching up on the reading that they’d been meaning to get around to.

So what are we to do in PPLS?  The main library might be locked up, but our e-resources are still available.  There are hundreds of books available in each of our disciplines.  All we need to do is get some coffee and click on the titles that sound interesting.  But that raises another question: what to choose?

I’ve tried to help you answer that question. I went digging through all the PPLS reading lists on Leganto for books that have been assigned in our courses.  Then, I checked each title in DiscoverEd to see if electronic copies were available, and assembled the results in three large spreadsheets.  You can access these spreadsheets as PDFs by visiting our Learning Resources site (https://uoe.sharepoint.com/sites/PPLSLearningResources) and choosing either “DiscoverEd lists” from the top menu or  “Learning more about your field” from the panels in the centre.  Browse through the titles and see if anything jumps out.  There might be a book that was recommended in one of your earlier courses that you never got around to reading.  You could also try looking ahead to topics you’re thinking about taking in future semesters.  Or what about exploring another part of PPLS?  I’m in Linguistics, but I can see that there are three titles on “Sentence Comprehension” just waiting for me in Psychology.

Not all of us have time on our hands right now, of course, but many of those who do have a lot of it.  If you’re in the latter category, I hope you’ll have a look.

Learning in the Time of COVID-19

The COVID-19 outbreak has radically changed the way we all study.  I’ve created a new site to help you adjust to some of those changes:

https://uoe.sharepoint.com/sites/PPLSLearningResources (EASE required)

This new site has information on how to continue to engage with our academic community, learn from the resources you have access to at home, and improve your computing and personal skills.

At this point it’s very much a work in progress.  Still to come are external resources, programming, statistics, philosophy skills, research support and more.  These will take longer to coordinate, but you can expect updates soon.