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1.4 Broadly typical phases of PhD research

A modern PhD can be viewed as having three key phases (very roughly, but not strictly, corresponding to the three years of a full-time degree), each of which contributes a necessary element of mastery:

  1. Orientation – mastering the literature and formulating a research problem and plan.

  2. Intensive research – gathering the evidence to support the thesis, whether empirical or theoretical.

  3. Entering t
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8 Websites for further information:

Primers on drug addiction:

For general in
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1.6 Conclusion

This unit has presented an overview of the ways in which organisms living in temperate habitats are adapted to survive the winter. The unit has shown how a limited set of environmental changes associated with the onset of winter can lead to a diversity of adaptations and therefore a large diversity of species.

On the basis of the examples discussed in this unit, we can identify four factors that contribute to the diversity of adaptive strategies for coping with winter.

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Learning outcomes

At the end of this unit you should know that:

  • By biological evolution we mean that many of the organisms that inhabit the Earth today are different from those that inhabited it in the past.

  • Natural selection is one of several processes that can bring about evolution, although it can also promote stability rather than change.

  • The four propositions underlying Darwin's theory of evolution through natural selection are: (1) more individuals are produced
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Introduction

In this unit, we describe the theory of evolution by natural selection as proposed by Charles Darwin in his book, first published in 1859, On The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or The Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life. We will look at natural selection as Darwin did, taking inheritance for granted, but ignoring the mechanisms underlying it.

This unit is from our archive and is an adapted extracted from Discovering science (S103) whic
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1.4.6 P is for Provenance

The provenance of a piece of information (i.e. who produced it? where did it come from?) may provide another useful clue to its reliability. It represents the 'credentials' of a piece of information that support its status and perceived value. It is therefore very important to be able to identify the author, sponsoring body or source of your information.

Why is this important?

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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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1.3.11 Summary

There is a lot of information available on Science and Nature via the internet. Try the activity below to start exploring what is available.

Activity

14 Final thoughts

This unit started by asking simple questions such as ‘what science to teach?’ and ‘what is science?’ and pursued them to the point where answers proved both complex and elusive. Much of what I've said about such issues has been in the context of UK science education, though you'll be aware (e.g. see the Fensham reading) that m
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13 Post-compulsory science education

In a speech to the Institute of Economic Affairs in 2001, the then UK Secretary of State for Education said:

Young people choosing vocational study will be able to see a ladder of progression that gives structure, purpose and expectation to their lives, in the same way that a future pathway is clear to those who leave school to gain academic A-levels and enter university. Over-16s in full-time education will be abl
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12 Science in secondary schools

The first three readings in this unit use the context of secondary education, particularly in the UK and Australia. In this section, I'll be looking again at the issues highlighted in the previous section on primary science and drawing comparisons with experiences in secondary schools; I'll re-visit much the same issues when I consider post-compulsory science education in Author(s): The Open University

7.4.3 Modelling errors

  • be aware that it is often possible to provide an estimate of error for numerical values derived from the application of theoretical models to a data set.

For me, thinking about the use of models convinces me of some of the benefits of ‘problematising’ science – as we've been doing in the commentary so far. Indeed, my feeling is that using models reflects something more general about how scientific understanding is built up. By this I me
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7.4.1 Uses of models not made explicit

  • recognise that many scientific findings follow from the use of theoretical models in addition to consideration of empirical data;

  • be aware that numerical values provided by scientists may be derived directly from data, or from the application of theoretical models to a data set.


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7.3 Multiple interpretations in science

Talking of media reports of the Chernobyl episode, Millar and Wynne point out that:

[disagreements between scientists] become difficult to interpret, other than in terms of bias or incompetence. Divergences between the data and interpretations of pressure groups … and the official sources are attributed to the former [bias]; those between different official agencies … to the latter [incompetence]. Only in a han
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7.1 Introduction

I now want to take forward the notion of a science curriculum for public understanding, identifying problems and opportunities. Our guide in what follows is the Beyond 2000  document, which emerged from a working group led by UK-based science educators, working collaboratively with science teachers, education researchers, professional scientists within universities, indust
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3.1.6 (F) Creativity

Pupils should appreciate that science is an activity that involves creativity and imagination as much as many other human activities and that some scientific ideas are enormous intellectual achievements. Scientists, as much as any other profession, are passionate and they (and their work) rely on inspiration and imagination.

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3.1.4 (D) Cause and correlation

Pupils should be taught to distinguish between two types of relationship in science – causal, where there is a known mechanism relating an effect to a cause; and correlational, where identified variables are associated statistically but for which there is no well-established causal link.


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Europe and the law
This unit will give you a basic understanding of EU law and the interaction between EU and domestic law. It will provide a brief explanation of the European Convention on Human Rights and other European legislation, as well as the background to such institutions as the European Council, the European Commission, the European Parliament and the European Court of Justice. First publish
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9.1 Introduction

Two of the most basic and important skills of a successful student are being able to read effectively and make clear, concise notes

The process of note-taking helps you engage with study materials in an active way. Turning a text into your own words helps to sharpen up your understanding and focus your thinking. The key to successful note-taking is to create notes that suit your purpose rather than writing reams that are boring to write and even more boring to read later! Here are some
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