A Model Blog for Research Digest

I came across a blog that can be a model of what I am envisioning for my small blog. It’s called BPS Research Digest. Although it is a authoritative blog published by the British Psychological Society and my blog is just by me, I would like to use this space to review the paper I found interesting in the manner that BPS presents.

The post that led me into the blog is this. I quickly analyzed the structure of the writing to have a guideline for myself. http://bps-research-digest.blogspot.com/2014/04/a-self-fulfilling-fallacy.html

From reading this post, a general structure I could write is as follows.

  1. Introduce with a commonly known story that could be potentially the motivation of the research. In this case, the author mentions a common human error in judgment called the Gambler’s Fallacy. (about 150 words)
  2. Explain what the authors actually did in the paper. Experiment? Modeling? Secondary data analysis? Highlight the main contribution only even if the authors have done many things for the whole paper. (about 100 words)
  3. Insert a picture in the middle if it can be helpful. (optional; Search Creative Commons images from flickr here)
  4. Summarize the results. (about 200 words)
  5. Summarize the authors’ interpretation on the results. (about 150 words)
  6. Conclude by going back to the introductory theme used in the introduction—the gambler’s fallacy in this case. (about 100 words)

If I can write this way, this alone will amount to 600-700 words. I hope it will be a good exercise for me to learn how to shape a good research question.

Admitted to Ph.D. Candidacy

Today I became a Ph.D. candidate! I presented the dissertation proposal last Friday and today. I have spent about a month for this proposal. Scheduling was one of the toughest things to do, and that’s why I proposed twice. (One should not do it twice.)

Overall, this official milestone of my Ph.D. study has prepared myself to better frame and position the work I have been doing. In fact, I realized that a dissertation might be slightly different from a research paper to be published at an academic journal. The committee looks for a theory that can be as generalizable as possible and as applicable as possible to multiple contexts, while a research paper might want to be very specific on admitting limitations of the work. This actually made me think how I can and should generalize the findings or hypotheses into other contexts such as automobile, ship-making, etc. This is quite a different task than I have been doing. It will be challenging but I find it must-have for a dissertation.

In addition to proposal, I presented a few presentations at POMS over last weekend. In total, I pitched four presentations over four days. It was very exhausting, but also an intensive learning period. The most important thing I think I learned out of this presentation spree is the importance of storyline. Having a good narrative always helps. When I do research, often I am so focused that I lose the big picture on what I am doing and trying to say. In that sense, creating a powerpoint deck for the paper I want to present helps me stay in the consistent storyline and understand the key contributions of my own work.

During the last week, I have missed the 500-word quota. As I restart my routine workload, I need to get back to the quota again. This blog post has 308 words.

Plan for CV page

After finishing the dissertation proposal defense, I will start working on my academic website. The design requirements I am considering are:

  • Ease of update: I want to keep my CV up-to-date in Markdown format and convert it into a part of web page as well as pdf. I am not sure if I will have enough time
  • Clean layout: I don’t want to throw in all fancy modern CSS techniques into a CV page. However, I do want to have it cleanly display at different devices. I will keep interactive elements at the minimum.
  • Single index.html file: so that I can easily migrate things When I get a faculty job at another school.

Pressure of daily writing quota

I barely met the writing quota (500 words) today. This is now six days in a row. Trying to meet such a certain quantitative threshold helps me visualize the progress. So, I start to feel that this daily writing goal almost has an additive feature. Once I get used to it, I will keep raising the bar by 100 until I reach 1k words per day.

At the same time, I realized that writing a blog post like this one is so different from writing a paragraph in my paper. I don’t know if I can ever write a part of a research paper as fast as I am writing this post.

Finished thesis proposal draft

It has been a super painful week for me writing a draft for thesis proposal. I should have started at least one week earlier. Regarding writing, I always underestimate the task and overestimate my capability. Writing to a deadline deprives the joy of creation and organizing. It was a good wake-up call.

Now I started logging word count every day and it has been 6 days. I pledged to write to a quota every day. The quota currently sets at 500. I plan to lift it to around 1k-2k.

Another realization is that writing is really tough thing and if I reserve writing for later of the day, I won’t do it at last. Last two days, I woke up early around 5:30 and wrote whatever I can until I hit around 200-300 words before taking a shower. This really turns on the writing mode in my brain for the day. Hopefully, I can keep this pattern for a while.

Writing 10k words a day

I ran across an advice from a professional novel writer.


He talks about the triangle as a requirement to jack up your writing speed: knowledge, time, and enthusiasm. I don’t get it much for enthusiasm, but I fully agree on knowledge and time. By knowledge, he means to prepare bullet points of what you are going to write spending 5 minutes before you start writing about something. For time, he emphasizes on tracking the output performance in terms of word count. In his case, writing during afternoon at a coffee shop without internet works best, so he rescheduled everything to write at that time frame and viciously protected it. These are good advice, though I don’t expect me writing 10k words a day. In my case, I need to actually “do” some research–data processing, running regressions, and literature review. Nevertheless, I think I can do better than the current word count, 1.5k per day if spend the whole day.