Common mistakes in Post graduate Dissertation and how to avoid them

mistakesDr Mansoor Ali 

This article highlights common mistakes in Post Graduate dissertation and help the students and guides in a step-by-step approach for a better postgraduate dissertation

Dilemma in Homoeopathy Medical Colleges

  • We do not have regular course in research methodology
  • Students and Guides don’t know where to start, how to proceed & how to write dissertation

PG dissertation means

  • Training in scientific approach and research methodology
  • Original research outcome is not so important
  • This is a foundation/basement to future research in homoeopathy

If our Maths or Hindi teachings were defective in our primary classes – we may lose interest in that subjects throughout our life time. If homoeopathy PG students lose interest in dissertation due to lack of proper guidance, that is detrimental to the growth and development of homoeopathy.

Definition
Research is a process of discovery that aims to add, delete or modify the existing practices by way of observation, interpretation and explanation.

Purpose of PG education 

  • Professional development – PG is not merely a theoretical or exam oriented study as BHMS. During BHMS we had exam every 6 months, with lot of assignments and record writings. But in PG we have two exams only in three years – enough time to acquire clinical knowledge and to develop as a professional.
  • Human resource for academic structure – post graduation is the basic qualification for teaching posts in homoeopathy. So a PG student must be a good teacher and clinician.
  • Research aptitude – sensitising PG students for a proper research, outcome is not important, but methodology should be correct.

Difference between Thesis and Dissertation

  • Dissertation means a long essay on a particular subject – Broad
  • Thesis means A long essay involving personal research – Highly focused on a specific issue – PhD
  • So Post graduate work is called as Dissertation and not thesis

make-mistakesCommon Mistakes in PG Dissertation  

  1. Objectives are not clear – some specific objectives should me mentioned. Action of homoeopathic remedies in diabetes mellitus is a broad topic, but the scope of homeopathic remedies in diabetic neuropathy, or sexual complaints of diabetes mellitus etc are some specific topics with clear-cut objectives.
  2. Cut and paste – Plagiarisms
  3. Non-correlation of tables and explained data – The items mentioned in tables, charts and graphs should be same as explained data beneath the tables and charts.
  4. Sample size – for a better result at least 30 cases or samples are must. Many PGs doing dissertation works with 7 t0 10 cases. That results in bias.
  5. Duration of study less than mentioned – Duration study should be date after the approval of synopsis and before the last date of submission to concerned guide.
  6. Lack of institutional/ethical committee recommendations
  7. Methodology not clear – absence of a clear cut methodology
  8. Aims and Objectives do not match conclusions. For example – Aim/Objective mentioned as “Action of Syzigium 30 in diabetes mellitus”, but in conclusion “ Syzigium is a good remedy for diabetes mellitus”. It should match.
  9. Observations repeated in summary
  10. List of abbreviations – should be of an internationally accepted standards.
  11. Tables and figures are not self-explanatory – the examiner or evaluator must get a clear idea on looking at charts or diagrams even without reading the explanations given below.
  12. Reference – nationally or internationally accepted format only.

Other Errors 

  • Margins required are not correct.
  • Page numbers do not correspond to the entries in the Table of Contents, List of Tables, List of Figures, and/or any other list included in the document.
  • Subheadings are not consistently formatted by the student throughout the document.
  • Subheadings are not formatted consistently based on the weight of each item in the Table of Contents.
  • Landscaped pages in the text have the page number in the incorrect spot.
  • While paying attention to research, the grammar and flow of the document may be overlooked.
  • The language used may not be according to the accepted standard. Further, the style should be academic and clear
  • Universities prescribe certain formatting styles, as to the type and size of font, or even the paper used. These can be overlooked if the scholar is not cautious enough.
  • The resources can often be outdated, irrelevant or invalid. Hence they must be checked before being used for the dissertation
  • Use of internet sources to a noticeable extent is also a serious mistake. This can lead to the rejection of the dissertation work by the committee
  • Incomplete disclosure about the resources used is another crucial error.
  • Faulty time management can cost the scholar dearly as he can miss the deadline set for submission

examEvaluator look for
It is not possible to read the entire thesis line by line – but the expert examiner will look on certain important areas – which will give him a good interpretation of the submitted work. These areas are

  • Title
  • Summary (Abstract)
  • Introduction
  • Conclusion
  • Reference format
  • Tables and figures
  • Methodology
  • Ethical Issues

Basic structure of introduction

  • First para : Introduction to the subject
  • Next few paragraphs : lacunae and controversies about the subject
  • Last para : “There for this study was done with the intention of….”

Remember 

  • Tables should be in one page
  • For tables – heading should be above
  • For pictures – heading should be below
  • Tables should be simple and self-contained but require no further explanation.
  • Data shown in a Table should not be reiterated in sentences within the text
  • Discussion is the heart of research  – require several draft
  • Result -attracts the attention of most readers
  • Materials and Methods – easiest to write, past tense
  • Introduction is the very difficult section – 1 or 2 pages, lacunae in current knowledge, primary goal of this study that seeks to address the problem.

Synopsis – Before testing the hypothesis- Dissertation – after testing

Synopsis of dissertation

  1. PG student shall submit synopsis within six months of her / his admission.
  2. Synopsis shall be signed by the student, approved by the guide, and counter signed by HOD and Principal before sending to University for approval.
  3. Ethics committee clearance is mandatory
  4. Each synopsis shall be scrutinized by the university subject expert.
  5. Approved synopsis shall be published in the university website and communicated to concerned colleges along with student ID number.
  6. Non-accepted synopsis shall send back to colleges for modification by giving maximum 30 days.

Student Guide ratio shall be strictly maintained as of CCH instructions and guide shall be a recognized post graduate teacher as per the university and statutory council norms.

Submission of synopsis of dissertation shall be accepted by the university only through proper channel

Provision for change of title and guide is there but not easy since the approved guides are less in number.

Period of study – mention a date in your dissertation after the approval by the university.

Submission of dissertation

  • Each student shall submit two/ three hard copies and one soft copy (CD) of approved dissertation through proper channel to the university before the stipulated date.
  • Dissertation shall be submitted six months prior to the conduct of University examinations.
  • No dissertation shall be accepted by the university after the stipulated date on any grounds.

Evaluation of dissertation in many universities 

Each dissertation shall send to two outside state experts and one university expert for evaluation.

If two evaluators out of three are accepted the dissertation, the university shall consider the dissertation is accepted and the student is eligible for writing the university examination.

If two experts, accepted the dissertation with modifications, the dissertation shall send back to the student for modification as per the experts’ remarks, by giving maximum 45 days. These modified dissertations shall be send back to the same experts who suggested the modification for repeat evaluation.

If two experts rejected the dissertation, the student shall redo the work and shall not be eligible for writing the university examination along with the regular students.

The university send the list of approved dissertation to the Principal for intimating to the concerned students and HOD before the examination registration.

These mistakes can be avoided by being cautious and taking some able guidance

References

  1. Ananatha Krishnan N:medicaal postgraduate dissertation a step by step approach.India:Wolters Kluwer;2013
  2. Munir Ahammed R : Research Methodology.Bangalore: Centre for Homeopathic Studies;2005
  3. Writing a reference list in the Vancouver style:VIKO; [Published 29.04.2011;Cited on 30-04-2016].Available from http://www.ntnu.no/viko/english/papers/vancouverlist
  4. PubMed Central : National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine ; [cited on 29.04.2016]. Available from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/
  5. Cochrane Libray : Wiley Online Library;[cited on 29.04.2016]. Available from  http://www.cochranelibrary.com/

Dr Mansoor Ali K R BHMS,MD(Hom)
Associate  Professor- Govt. Homeopathic Medical College, Calicut
Email : [email protected]

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