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3.1 Introduction

In 2000, the House of Lords Select Committee on Science and Technology produced an influential report that highlighted the complex and increasingly problematic relationship between contemporary science and society, particularly in the field of biotechnology (House of Lords Select Committee on Science and Technology, 2000). The report argued that many of these concerns were seen by the public to be the result of a perceived lack of transparency in the relationship between science, industry, pu
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1.9 Summary and conclusion: ‘take-away messages’

It helps to understand the PhD in context: the modern PhD is typically a three-year research training providing evidence of the ability to conduct and bring to fruition an independent programme of research. It requires rigour and an ability to enter the discourse, but its scope is limited and it does not require perfection. Models of study and models of dissertations vary for different universities, disciplines, and topics. The key is to understand what is appropriate for your particular prog
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1.7.3 Framing an appropriate and useful research question

At the heart of any research is the research question. The quality of output hinges on the quality of the question: why it is asked, how it is asked, how it relates to other questions and knowledge, and what might constitute an answer. Hence, one key skill is demonstration of the ability to develop a well-formulated question. The examiner will be looking for evidence of:

  • articulation of the motivation and significance of the question


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Learning outcomes

Section 1 is an orientation or ‘framing’ section, and so its desired outcome is ‘awareness’ rather than particular demostrations of knowledge or skills. By completion of this Section 1 you should be:

  • familiar with the required rigour, depth, and scope of a PhD;

  • aware that there is no ‘one solution’, but that PhD models are influenced by institutions, disciplines, and topics;

  • aware of the need for both good research and good presen
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5.2 Neural ageing: article 1

Now read Neural Ageing Article 1: Concar, D. (2001) ‘Forever young’, New Scientist, 171, pp. 26–27.

Click to view 'Concar article'

1.2 Time, space, temperature and energy

The conventional view of the Universe is that, at the very instant of the Big Bang, the Universe came into being. There was no ‘before’ this instant since the Big Bang marked the creation of time. No location for this event can be specified since the Big Bang marked the creation of space. All that can be discussed are times after the Big Bang, and things that happen in the space created as a result of it. This is a difficult concept to visualize; but please bear with us and examine the co
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6: Summary

All objects, irrespective of their mass, experience the same acceleration g when falling freely under the influence of gravity at the same point on the Earth. Close to the Earth's surface, g=9.8 m s−2. The weight of an object is the force F g due to gravity acting on the object, and for an object with mass m the weight is given by F g=mg.

If the height of an object of mass m changes by Δh, the ch
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Examples 1 and 2

Example 1

Example 1
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Copyright © 2013 The Open University

1.5.8 Bibliographic software

If you are considering taking your studies further you might like to consider using bibliographic software. Bibliographic software can be used to sort references, annotate them, manage quotations or create reading lists.

There are several software packages on the market. Some are listed below.

1.5.7 Referencing

We mentioned above that we need to reference sources to ensure we abide by copyright legislation. But there is another reason we need to give accurate references to items we use – so we can share it.

Consider this scenario. A friend says they’ve just read an interesting article where Joshua Schachter, founder of Delicious has spoken about why it isn’t a faceted search system, and you should read it. How would you go about finding it? Would you start looking in a news database, a s
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1.5.1 Why is it important to be organised?

  • 87% of items that are filed into a filing cabinet are never looked at again. STANFORD UNIVERSITY

  • In 2010, the world’s digital information output was estimated to pass 1.2 zettabytes. A zettabyte is a new term which equals a thousand billion gigabytes.

  • A new blog is created every second. TECHNORATI

  • 10% of salary costs are wasted as employees search for information to complete tasks.
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1.4.4 O is for Objectivity

One of the characteristics of ‘good’ information is that it should be balanced and present both sides of an argument or issue. This way the reader is left to weigh up the evidence and make a decision. In reality, we recognise that no information is truly objective.

This means that the onus is on you, the reader, to develop a critical awareness of the positions represented in what you read, and to take account of this when you interpret the information. In some cases, authors may be
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1.4.2 P is for Presentation

By presentation, we mean, the way in which the information is communicated. You might want to ask yourself:

  • Is the language clear and easy to understand?

  • Is the information clearly laid out so that it is easy to read?

  • Are the fonts large enough and clear?

  • Are the colours effective? (e.g. white or yellow on black can be difficult to read)

  • If there are graphics or photos, do they help
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1.3.9 Internet resources

There are many websites where you will find useful information on science and nature. With all information on the internet you need to make a judgement on the reliability of the information

BBC Science and Nature Part of the BBC's website covering various topics on science and the nat
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1.3.5 Images

Images can also be found online. Some useful Image databases are:

<
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1.2.2 Choosing Keywords

Keywords are significant words which define the subject you are looking for. The importance of keywords is illustrated by the fact that there is a whole industry around providing advice to companies on how to select keywords for their websites that are likely to make it to the top of results lists generated by search engines. We often choose keywords as part of an iterative process; usually if we don't hit on the right search terms straight off, most of us tweak them as we go along based on t
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1.1.6 Keeping Up-to-date

How familiar are you with the following different ways of keeping up to date with information; alerts, mailing lists, newsgroups, blogs, RSS, professional bodies and societies?

  • 5 - Very familiar

  • 4 - Familiar

  • 3 - Fairly familiar

  • 2 - Not very familiar

  • 1 - Not familiar at all


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1.1.4 Evaluating Information

How well does the following statement describe your approach to evaluating the information that you use?

When I come across a new piece of information (e.g. a website, newspaper article) I consider the quality of the information, and based on that I decide whether or not to use it.

  • 5 - This is an excellent match; this is exactly what I do


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Learning outcomes

By the end of this guide you should be able to:

  • conduct your own searches efficiently and effectively;

  • find references to material in bibliographic databases;

  • make efficient use of full text electronic journals services;

  • critically evaluate information from a variety of sources;

  • understand the importance of organizing your own information;

  • identify some of the systems available;

  • describe ho
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References

Note: the websites listed below were last accessed in July 2003.
Alters, B. J. (1997) ‘Whose Nature of Science?’, Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 43 (1), pp. 39–55.
Amos, S. and Boohan, R. (2002) Aspects of teaching secondary science: perspectives on practice, London, RoutledgeFalmer/Milton Keynes, The Open University.
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