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

• Author(s): The Open University

Section 1 is an orientation or â€˜framingâ€™ section, and so its desired outcome is â€˜awarenessâ€™ 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 â€˜one solutionâ€™, but that PhD models are influenced by institutions, disciplines, and topics;

• aware of the need for both good research and good presen
Author(s): The Open University

Now read Neural Ageing Article 1: Concar, D. (2001) â€˜Forever youngâ€™, New Scientist, 171, pp. 26â€“27.

Click to view 'Concar article'

The conventional view of the Universe is that, at the very instant of the Big Bang, the Universe came into being. There was no â€˜beforeâ€™ 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
Author(s): The Open University

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 sâˆ’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 Î”h, the ch
Author(s): The Open University

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.

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 â€“ so we can share it.

Consider this scenario. A friend says theyâ€™ve just read an interesting article where Joshua Schachter, founder of Delicious has spoken about why it isnâ€™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
Author(s): The Open University

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

• In 2010, the worldâ€™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.
Author(s): The Open University

One of the characteristics of â€˜goodâ€™ 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
Author(s): The Open University

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
Author(s): The Open University

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
Author(s): The Open University

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

<
Author(s): The Open University

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
Author(s): The Open University

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

Author(s): The Open University

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

Author(s): The Open University

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
Author(s): The Open University

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

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
Author(s): The Open University

The following statement is from the science National Curriculum in England published in 2000.

## The importance of science

Science stimulates and excites pupilsâ€™ curiosity about phenomena and events in the world around them. It also satisfies this curiosity with knowledge. Because science links direct practical experience with ideas, it can engage learners at many levels. Scientific meth
Author(s): The Open University

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 â€¦ and the official sources are attributed to the former [bias]; those between different official agencies â€¦ to the latter [incompetence]. Only in a han
Author(s): The Open University

 Flickr A photo sharing website that contains pictures relating to all subjects. Note that in order to reuse a picture from this site you may need to get the permission of the person who uploaded the photo.