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2.9 End of section exercise

Portfolio exercise

After reading Section 2 you could conduct the following exercises as part of your evidence of achievement. You may like to discuss this activity with your supervisor.

  1. Write a reflective account of some of the skills you identify as important a
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2.1 Introduction

The most basic requirement of a PhD thesis is high-quality research. This outcome requires obvious intellectual skills related to knowledge and intelligence, but also less obvious skills such as planning and time management. A PhD project is a multi-year research programme, and the abilities to plan effectively, to coordinate activities and to manage your time and that of others are extremely important. The aim of this unit is to help you understand the planning and management skills that are
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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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1.8 The OU requirements

The criteria for an OU PhD (as stated in the Guidelines on Research Degree Examinations for Heads of Disciplines, Supervisors and Examination Panels, EX 10, revised January 1998) are that:

The thesis must be of good presentation style and show evidence of being a significant contribution knowledge and of the student's capacity to pursue further research without supervision. The thesis must contain
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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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1.2 Different reasons for doing PhDs

Just as there are different views of what a PhD is or means, there are different reasons for undertaking a PhD, ranging from the pragmatic – acquiring a research credential for academia or for industry – to the idealistic – aspiring to deep scholarship. And students have many reasons in between, including things like curiosity, a drive to chase a long-held question, and the need to prove oneself. What's important here is not the reason for starting, but the compelling reason for finishi
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1.1 Thoughts on a PhD

Entering students often think of a PhD as a ‘magnum opus’, a brilliant research project culminating in a great work. This is rather a demanding model, and few students win Nobel Prizes as a result of their doctoral studies. More realistically, a PhD is research training leading to a research qualification. The PhD is a passport to a research career.

There are other views of a PhD, as well. Getting a PhD can be a ‘rite of passage’, prerequisite to admission into the academic ‘t
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2.5 Collecting quantitative data

How can you collect quantitative data that summarise the nature of a habitat when it is three-dimensional? How, in fact, do you collect quantitative data?

Multi-storied habitats where the components have a different scale are usually recorded storey by storey, but using much the same methodology. There are two standard ways of collecting data quantitatively. The first involves recording species present within a standard area such as 10 cm × 10 cm, 0.5 m × 0.5 m, 1 m × 1 m, or 10 m ×
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1.8.3 Explaining the observations

Having made and reviewed our observations, we are now in a position to interpret them – why are the rocks the way they are? The sedimentary strata that we see in Figure 16 were likely to have been deposited in essentially horizontal layers, so why is one set tilted and the other horizontal? To answer
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1.8.2 Interpretation of a geological exposure

We now want to make use of the observations obtained by sketching the exposure, and it is useful to start by briefly summarising the features seen. First of all, you probably noticed the large boulder in the foreground of Figure 16 (which has been attached below for ease of access). Where did this boul
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1.8.1 Making and using field sketches

How do we start to make sense of a rock exposure? Drawing a sketch is one of the best ways to start, as it forces you to notice many aspects of the exposure. It also helps you to build up a picture of which aspects are significant and which are incidental or even irrelevant to a geological study. The aim of a field sketch is that it provides a record of your observations (along with notes taken at the same time, and also perhaps a photograph to record details). A sketch is complementary to a
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1.6.1 Causes of metamorphism

What natural process could cause a rock to be heated?

Answer

Heating can be caused when hot magma is intruded into a cool rock.

On the o
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1.3.2 Rocks

Any naturally formed solid assemblage of mineral grains can be described as a rock. The mineral grains may be fragments of crystals or intact crystals and their size can range from a few micrometres (1 micrometre = 10−6m) to a few centimetres. A rock may consist of one type of mineral but more usually it consists of several minerals. Rocks can be classified according to the way in which the grains are arranged, although the identity of the minerals present (for example, the rock
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8 Websites for further information:

Primers on drug addiction:

For general in
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4.6 Consequences of neural ageing

While we are beginning to understand the underlying molecular and cellular changes that take place in the ageing brain, the consequences of these changes are all too familiar. As people age, their mental competence may change and their ability to cope with the demands of everyday life may alter. A decline in
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4.4 Mechanisms that affect ageing of cells

So what are the causes of cellular ageing? A variety of causal mechanisms has been proposed, as you shall see. Many of
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2.3 Central questions in addiction

Arising out of these issues, it is possible to define questions central to a study of addiction. Take time to consider and answer these questions:

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