If you’re a
qualitative researcher, the chances are you will be conducting interviews. This
means that at some point, all that lovely data will have to be transformed from
audio files into documents that you can annotate and analyse.
Of course, in an ideal world, we would all transcribe our own interviews as it does get us that step closer to the data. In the real world, however, researchers often don’t have time for this laborious job. If you’re trying to recruit participants and work on your analysis whilst also looking after a family and working in a part-time job, the thought of sitting hunched over Word and VLC for days at a time trying to work out whether a participant said ‘pathology’ or ‘potatoes’ might be enough to make you weep.
Well, fear not, because PGPR now offers transcription alongside proof-reading and feedback. In this blog, we’ll explain exactly what happens if you decide to use PGPR to transcribe your precious data.
send us your audio file
We use the secure service Tresorit to transfer files. Tresorit is based in Switzerland and is one of the most secure services of its kind. All files are encrypted at source and the company has no way of accessing documents you upload or send through their service. They take security and GDPR compliance seriously, meaning your precious data is safe. You can send files of up to 5GB in this way.
You upload your file to Tresorit and send it to us. We will ensure that the link gets to the team member who is transcribing your audio. They will then download the file.
we transcribe the data
Since our team members are either qualitative researchers themselves or are editors who specialise in working on qualitative pieces, we understand how important it is to get every word and line of your interview exactly right. If you want, we can include hesitations, repetitions, ums and ahs, laughter and sighs. We can also anonymise all identifying data, such as names or locations, as we work.
we check that our work is accurate
We always listen
to your interview twice over to ensure that our transcription is both accurate
four… we send the interview back to you
Once the transcript is ready, we will password protect it and email the document back to you. You will then receive a text message from Layla or Johanna telling you what the password for your interview is. In this way, we are ensuring security. We can send your work back within 24 hours, 48 hours or five working days from the time you sent it to us.
we delete your audio file
ensures that your confidential data doesn’t make it into the wrong hands.
If you’d like to use our transcription service, just get in touch via the form below, we’ll be happy to help.
It seems like only five minutes ago that you were a trembling new student, going along to your first supervisory meeting with your knees knocking. But somehow, through a flurry of ethics reviews, recruitment and analysis, plus some blood, sweat and sobs… here you are. Your thesis is submitted, you’ve selected your examiners and the final hurdle is in sight.
The postgrad viva voce is truly a rite of passage. For those who don’t know, this is the final exam for a postgrad project. It takes different forms in different countries. For example, in the US doctoral defense, the supervisory committee also grill the student. In the European system, students have to defend their work in front of a public audience. Here in the UK, the viva involves sitting in a room with two examiners (one from the candidate’s university and one from another institution) for two, three, four or more hours, answering questions about your thesis.
students feel nervous about their vivas. However, if handled correctly, they
can be a fulfilling, rather than frightening, experience.
1. Take a
break from the thesis
This is an
important first step. Once you’ve had that thesis bound and put the obligatory smiling
selfies on Instagram, put it down and don’t look at it for a few weeks. For a
start, you deserve a break. But just as importantly, giving yourself space from
your masterpiece will allow you to look at it with fresh eyes, so that you can
spot areas to be discussed more easily. I’d also suggest using this downtime to
buy yourself a lovely notebook that you can use for your prep. After all,
stationery that makes your heart sing is never a bad thing.
2. Start by
thinking about your strengths
…And why not? After all, you’ve written an entire thesis. This is amazing! If you start this process by remembering what you love about your research, that will set you up for a happier viva. What are the strongest findings of your thesis? Which aspects make you feel proud? Can you summarise the thesis in 300 words or so? Write all these points down in your notebook and get ready to shout them to the rooftops.
3. And then
think about the challenges
The next step is to use those newly objective eyes to look for any weaknesses in the thesis. There almost certainly will be some, and that’s just fine. The point of a viva is not to prove that you’ve conducted a perfect series of studies; if such a thing were possible, we wouldn’t need peer-review. You’ll be better off demonstrating that you’re aware of things you might do differently next time, or which you might be able to address in your amendments. Write your ideas down in your notebook, along with some thoughts about challenges you overcame during the research. Additionally, if there are any theoretical areas you’re shaky on, re-read the literature and try explaining those concepts to other people.
about your examiners
You should already know your examiners and their work by this point. It’s important to remember that, while those examiners will (hopefully!) be as fair as they can be, vivas are run by humans and are therefore a subjective experience. Try to get inside the heads of your examiners by reading their publications. How does their work interact with yours? Can you think of what these particular people might want to ask you about your research?
about questions you might be asked
In addition to the list of questions the examiners might ask, re-read your thesis and think about the questions anyone would ask. Make lists of those questions. Write down your answers. If there’s anything you’re unsure about, make another list (who doesn’t love a good list?) and book in a time to talk those areas through with your supervisor, who is there to support you. If you’ve had any papers published from your thesis, think about the points your reviewers made. Might those points come up again?
Yep, there’s a lot of reading involved in viva prep. Once you’ve finished re-reading the thesis, you might also want to re-read the papers you cite most often. Plus, when did you write your lit review? It might have been a couple of years ago now. Have a look on Google Scholar and see if there are any papers which have come out since then that you need to know about for the big day.
Practice, practice, practice
One of the things many postgrad students feel most nervous about – especially here in the socially awkward UK – is having to say their ideas out loud, rather than being able to hide behind the safety of a keyboard. The best way to beat those nerves is to practice. You might feel a bit silly, but ask your supervisor, friends, mum, partner, even your pet parrot to quiz you. Try explaining your ideas to people who don’t know anything about your subject. If they understand you, anyone will. The more you do this, the more confident you will feel, and the higher the chance that you might actually enjoy the viva. Trust me, unbelievable as that might feel from this side of the event, many people report genuinely enjoying this experience. After all, you’re getting to talk about your passion, the thing you know more about than anyone else in the world, to two experts you’ve hand-picked. This could be the stuff dreams are made of!
8. Book a
Skype session with PGPR
We offer hour-long video chat sessions which are perfect for students who are about to take their viva. While we obviously can’t read your entire thesis and quiz you on it, we will spend an hour looking at your notes and ideas beforehand. We can then talk through any concerns and worries you have, ask you some practice questions, and give you some friendly support. Get in touch via the form below to book your session.
Dyslexic students can struggle with things other students
may take for granted, such as understanding textbook materials, spelling and
grammar, note-taking, and organising and expressing their ideas on paper.
Undertaking a PhD is a big commitment and a lot of work. If
you’re a PhD student with dyslexia, this can make things all the more difficult.
However, with the right support in place, it can also be a rewarding experience that not only looks great on your CV but can enhance your future career prospects.
Here are three challenges that PhD students with dyslexia might face and ways that PGPR can help:
Spelling and grammar
The standard of writing expected from a PhD
is high. If you are a dyslexic student, you might find negative comments or
feedback in this area demotivating, especially when you have spent hours
diligently checking your finished paper. Text-to-speech software and grammar
checkers can be useful for common spelling and grammatical errors, but quite
often they miss details that can only be spotted by an eagle-eyed professional
Our basic proof-reading service is designed to spot those typos and punctuation errors, checking each line, suggesting alternative word choices and highlighting areas of text that are difficult to understand. You get two copies of your work back – one clean edit and one tracked, so you can easily and quickly spot what changes have been made.
Organising your ideas
Being able to manage your time
effectively whilst working on a PhD is essential. Many dyslexic students can
find it difficult to organise their thoughts on paper or find they need to
spend longer re-reading academic texts to ensure they fully understand what is
It is easy to become overwhelmed with the workload involved in a PhD even with additional support from your university. PGPR’s feedback service can help you to successfully organise your ideas so they are the best they can be.
One of the team will go through your work and provide expert advice and feedback to help improve your structure, methodology, findings and discussion sections. We also offer a service that combines basic proof-reading with feedback for students who feel their English or academic writing skills could use an extra boost.
Lack of visible support
Students with dyslexia often comment on how their experiences of studying at a post-grad level are vastly different from an undergraduate degree.
Universities often have a good support system in place for undergraduates, such as extra time for exams or a project deadline, trained on-site support staff and specialist equipment to help dyslexic students. Embarking on a PhD, however, means a lot of working on your own, and getting extra time to plan or write your thesis can be difficult.
If you feel that you need more support, consider discussing this with your supervisor. Many supervisors will be able to work with you on a plan to guide you through your PhD. Others may be dyslexic themselves or have previously worked with dyslexic students.
You may also benefit from PGPR’s popular one-to-one Skype sessions, which are designed to allow you to discuss your work with one of our experts. These one-off or regular sessions provide support, guidance and deeper insight into your work and can help assuage any worries or fears you may be experiencing.
Get in touch with The Post-Graduate
The team at PGPR offer a wide range of services designed to help you achieve your personal best. Whether you need your lecture notes transcribed into a clear and readable format in a dyslexia-friendly font, or a dry-run of your ground-breaking presentation via Skype to help you practise speaking in public, we are here to help.
ethics, recruited participants, collected your data, analysed and written up your
findings – phew! What a marathon. The hard work is basically over, right?
not, because there is one more hurdle to jump; the dreaded discussion section.
This is where
you compare your work to the existing literature. Sounds simple, but this can
be the hardest chapter to write. I have a theory (entirely untested, I should
point out) that these chapters are especially hard for women, who have
generally been socialised not to brag about their achievements, something you
definitely need to do here.
Read on for
six tips on how to leap over this final hurdle and write a devastating
1. Read around your findings
You will already have done plenty of reading for your lit review, but before you start writing, do some more, especially if you are doing qualitative work. In quantitative research, you shouldn’t discuss any papers you haven’t already bought up in your intro, but this is not the case for qualitative explorations, where the researcher will have been expecting the unexpected. Now that you have your unexpected findings, search for similar papers and make notes on the relevant points.
I find it helpful to start a new document listing each of my key findings, and to make notes of any existing findings which confirm, contradict or add to my own, along with a note of which paper the new findings have come from. Include the key findings from the key papers from your intro or lit review on this list as well. You might want to highlight findings which back yours up in one colour and those which don’t in another. This list document comes in really handy once you start to write.
Look for work from the same or similar methodologies to you, as well as work from other areas. Find and read papers that are cited in useful studies.
Top tip: if your university doesn’t have access to a paper you need, email the author, or look for them on ResearchGate or Twitter. They will probably be happy to share their work with you. (I am always happy to share my papers, just get in touch via the form below to ask.)
2. Think about format
The format of your discussion section should mirror that of your findings. This helps your reader to logically follow your train of thought; especially vital if your reader is a PhD examiner, for whom you want to make life as easy as possible.
Start with your first finding. Briefly recap it. A common problem I see with PGPR clients is that they spend too much time reminding the reader of findings. The findings chapter is the one before the discussion; try to trust that your work is interesting enough that the reader won’t have forgotten it already.
Here is an
example of a recap from a discussion section in my PhD, which was about the
experience of living with and being treated for renal failure:
Seven of the participants talked about the impact that
ill health made on their lives. Some found that ill health was a wearing
intrusion, dragging them down and restricting them. Others had found ways to
come to terms with living with their chronic conditions.
Following this, you might want write a brief summary of the existing literature, after which you can start comparing your work to what’s out there already.
3. Look for areas where your research confirms other findings
The next step is to demonstrate how your findings concur with existing work (if they do). This is where the list document you made earlier will come in useful. Look for findings that are similar to yours and tell the reader about those similarities. If you don’t have anything on your document which backs up your findings, have another look, just to be sure. However, don’t force similarities if they’re not there.
4. Look for areas where your research builds on existing work
This step is similar to the previous one but can be trickier. Your work might appear to contradict existing work. Novice researchers may panic that this means their findings are ‘wrong’. However, is there a reason your findings are different from Professor Big-Brain’s? Did you speak to different participants? Has the political climate shifted? Perhaps participants reacted differently to you – an Asian female – than to Professor Big-Brain – a white male. If further research would be beneficial, point that out.
your findings add a new dimension to a model or set of guidelines. If so,
clearly demonstrate this and give yourself a gold star.
You might have an entirely novel finding – something no-one has found before. Again, check the literature carefully so that you can be confident you’ve not missed anything, but if so, use clear language to tell your reader that you have found something new and important. Don’t be shy about this! These are the kinds of findings you might include in bullet points about ‘what this adds to existing research’ when you’re submitting papers for publication.
5. Think carefully about what your reader needs to know
PGPR clients’ discussion sections are often overly long. We don’t need every detail of the papers you’re comparing your work to. Consider your examiners or the reviewers of your paper as you write. These people tend to be overworked as it is – and reviewing/thesis examination is extra work which they have to fit into their busy day. Do they really need to know exactly how many people Dr Finickity interviewed, or do they just need to know what those participants experienced?
Here is another example from my PhD, demonstrating a succinct comparison:
Several participants talked about a loss of freedom via the restrictions placed on them by their illness, either in terms of being too fatigued to live life to the full, or in terms of more practical concerns such as diet restrictions. Authors of previous qualitative work on ill-health have found similar themes. The restricting impact of ill health in terms of both social life and diet spoken about by Charlotte is reflected in findings by King et al. (2002), in which dietary restrictions and ill health were both found to have a major impact on the diabetic renal patients.
6. Ask PGPR for feedback
Discussion sections are difficult – but the PGPR team has plenty of experience writing, marking and examining these chapters. We are happy to offer feedback on how to get your discussion chapter just right, so fill in the form below if you would like some extra support.
Postgraduate work is rewarding and can advance your career. But it can also be hard, lonely and scary. When your brain is full of ethics forms, analysis and recruitment, it can be hard to take care of yourself. Looking after your mental health is always essential but is especially important when you’re so busy you feel you don’t have the time. As the Zen proverb says:
‘You should sit in meditation for twenty minutes every day – unless you’re too busy; then you should sit for an hour’.
Here are five
tips for maintaining your sanity while completing your master’s or PhD.
1. Fight isolation
is often groundbreaking. This is exciting, of course. But the problem with
breaking new ground is that there might not be anyone else breaking that ground
with you. This means you can end up feeling isolated.
Is there anyone else at your university doing similar research to you? If so, drop them an email, see if they fancy lunch. If not, have a look online for groups of people doing similar work to you. Lots of PGPR clients are conducting qualitative research using interpretative phenomenological analysis; if you’re one of those people, check out the IPA groups.io gang, which is a supportive place to ask questions and make contacts. Despite its reputation for being toxic, Twitter can also be a friendly space for academics. You might want to start out by following @AcademicChatter, @PhDVoiceand PGPR’s account @DrJohannaSpiers for some interesting online conversations.
2. Take breaks
drowning in deadlines, it can feel tempting to keep working on into the night, only
stopping to cram crisps into your mouth every now and then. But we all know
this is a bad idea, right?
Make sure you work regular breaks into your days. Does your uni have a gym? Go for a yoga class or a game of squash. Are you working from home? Go outside, sit in the sun, read a chapter of a novel. Is it Sunday and you’ve been working for 15 days straight? Stop it! Watch some Ozark and put your feet up. You’ll feel much better, and you’ll be more productive when you do get back to your desk.
3. Ask for support if you need it
There’s no escaping it; doing a master’s or a PhD is tough. You’re leading your own research, which is unpredictable and has many elements outside of your control. You’re probably skint. You’re watching your friends and family fill their evenings with fun while you’re conducting analysis and writing discussion sections. And you might be juggling family responsibilities while doing all this. If you need help, ask for it. Many universities have free counselling services which are quick to access. Your personal tutor is there for you to talk to. Asking for help is a sign of strength, so don’t be scared to reach out.
4. Celebrate the wins
If you’ve read this far, you might be forgiven for thinking postgrad work is nothing but doom and gloom. However, there are many triumphs along the way: getting accepted onto the course, passing your status upgrade, getting ethics approval, recruiting your first participants, writing your first paper, presenting at your first conference. These are all amazing achievements – remember to enjoy them!
PGPR for extra help
If you’re feeling stuck with spelling, tense about tenses or grouchy over grammar as you’re writing up your findings, get in touch for proof-reading help. We can also offer written and video-based feedback for qualitative social science work or help with your interview schedules and conference presentations. Just fill in the form below to find out more.
You’re committed to completing a rigorous, thorough and well-developed analysis. You’ve collected your data and spent hours immersing yourself in coding and organising your codes into themes. When are you ready to start writing up?
How final is the final
It’s useful to
address the perception of qualitative research as a linear process with writing
up as the conclusion. If you follow this model, you may be reluctant to move on
until you’re sure your codes are ‘finished’. Perhaps that idea comes from quantitative
research, where you analyse your data then write up your report to present to
others. Based on this, your concerns might be mostly about judging when you’re ‘ready’
to move onto writing.
Writing as a
writing as an integral part of continuing your analysis. The use of writing as
an analysis tool crops up across social sciences and qualitative methods. You
might have read about memo-writing in grounded theory, for instance.
Hermeneutic psychology writers have suggested writing should be an integral part
of developing an analysis.
In this vision, the
writing is less about reporting your fully formed ideas and more about refining
your thinking, ideas and arguments about your data. Codes only capture a small
part of your thinking and don’t allow you to explain or explore. As you write,
you can capture and develop initially nebulous ideas about your work.
How does writing
can be for yourself. You can test your arguments and reasoning. You might start
setting down your analytic claims about your data. How did you make sense of
the participants’ words? Which parts of the text do you think were particularly
relevant? These don’t have to be final ideas, but they can help you decide what
might be useful.
Writing can also help you get feedback from others. A narrative with quotes, analytic commentary and overarching comments communicates your ideas with more depth than code names or standalone quotes. A written account helps an outsider understand the reasoning that took you from data to themes and how you’re interpreting the data.
A short, written analysis example can reassure your supervisor that you’re engaging in a thorough analysis. They will then be able to see your work’s structure, content and analysis style, which can be vital to ensure you’re creating a well-developed piece of analysis.
What to write?
There are many options for when to write and how much.
Personally, I like to write often, even if many of those narratives only
collect virtual cobwebs on my laptop (I always believe I’ll use them one day).
You can write a brief reflection on each interview and after transcription. You
might want to write up some key themes from one transcript, explain what you
think is important about a small group of quotes, or write a full analysis of
each participant’s account.
happen when you write. Despite rigorous attention to coding, our analytic ideas
can prove frustratingly slippery when we try to explain them. You might find that
some themes develop beyond their original scope as you find more to say about
them. Others may turn out to be uninteresting once you start writing. Either
situation should nudge you to return to your data and see what was happening
(moving back around the hermeneutic circle). Are there multiple ideas within
one initial code that might benefit from more thought? Are there other parts of
the data that might elaborate your ideas and develop those dull themes? If you
encounter these questions early, it’s an exciting way to advance your analysis.
How can PGPR help
If you’re unsure or
reluctant to take the plunge, we can help. A Skype session might help make
decisions about writing. If your supervisor can’t review all your developing
ideas, you can ask for feedback from our team. We can review early drafts and
help you refine and focus further analysis.
Starting to write and explain your ideas is an exciting time in your research. Take the plunge to see where it can take you.
reading this blog, you’re either a PGPR client or you’re thinking about
becoming one. Either way – welcome! We hope we’ll get the chance to read some of
your research soon.
We offer four
levels of service here at PGPR. This is a blog to explain what you’ll get when
you book each of those services.
1. Basic proof-reading
First and foremost, proof-reading is about ensuring that your spelling and grammar are correct. You probably realised that, but PGPR proof-readers also look out for and help you with more than just those factors. Those extra areas include:
Tightening your writing by cutting down overly long sentences
Clarifying confusing text
Ensuring consistency of formatting, terminology, punctuation and so on
Checking your in-text references and, for a small extra charge, your reference list
We’ll amend your piece using Word’s track changes feature and send you back two copies: one with the changes still marked and one clean copy. It might be that we also include some comments to ensure we haven’t changed your meaning or that you agree with any suggested re-formatting.
should use our basic proof-reading service? Clients who are happy with the structure and
meaning of their work, but who struggle with English or academic writing.
Read more about why you should work with a proof-reader here.
2. Feedback only
The PGPR team includes a wealth of qualitative experts. As such, we can offer feedback on your structure, methodology, findings and discussion sections. We might ask whether you could dig a bit deeper with a certain interpretation, or if you can find links between certain themes. We may also suggest papers which would be useful to read, point out methodological errors or highlight sections of your thesis which your examiners might question you about.
We can also
offer feedback on earlier stages of analysis, such as tables of themes or
transcripts. It might be helpful for you to consider a Skype session with one
of our experts if you’re at this earlier stage – more on those below.
If you book feedback only, you’ll get a single copy of your work back, marked up with helpful comments from one of our team. Read more about our brilliant team here.
Who should use our feedback only service? If you are confident that your writing is strong, but you feel less sure about whether your analysis or methodology are as robust as they can be, this is the service for you.
3. Proof-reading plus feedback
This is our deluxe service and is fairly self-explanatory! If you book this service, we’ll combine all the elements of basic proof-reading and feedback. This means you’ll get two copies of your work back: one with the tracked changes still there for you to look at and one clean copy. Both copies will include the feedback comments.
book proof-reading plus feedback? If you’re feeling unsure about your English or academic writing skills
and need some extra assistant with your analysis, book this service.
4. Skype sessions
team now offers Skype sessions for its qualitative clients. These are an ideal opportunity
to talk through difficulties you’re having at any stage of your research
project with one of our team of experts.
booked a Skype session and been paired with a team member, you can send some
examples of your work for your expert to look over. They will then spend up to
an hour discussing the work with you via a video chat. Note it’s fine to turn
the video function off if you feel shy – you’ll still be able to hear our
advice and questions.
You can read more about the benefits of our Skype sessions here.
should book a Skype session? Anyone who is feeling stuck with any stage of their qualitative research
If any of these services sound like they might be helpful for you, get in touch via the form below and have a chat with us about what we can offer.
There are times in any research student’s experience where they lose a sense of direction or need some reassurance. We all sometimes feel stuck! Unfortunately, students don’t always get the support they need or want from their research supervisors (we’re not blaming supervisors as many are often over-stretched and under pressure). This can sometimes mean students need help in:
Formulating a concise qualitative research question
Figuring out which qualitative method would fit the best with the research question
Understanding if their interview schedule will elicit the best qualitative data
Getting feedback on a table of themes to see if the analysis is appropriately in-depth
Advice about their project from an independent qualitative expert
Thinking through what they might say at a viva to defend their project
Maximising the focus of your precious time
Many postgraduate students work long, solitary hours on their projects, and for some, these hours are undertaken after the ‘day job’ or while juggling other commitments. Time is a precious commodity and it is frustrating to not have a clear sense of direction when a few hours have been carved out. For full-time students, the single focus of the research programme can be overwhelming, to the point where students ‘can’t see the wood for the trees’. Does any of this sound familiar?
Sometimes, having a human-to-human conversation can be a much-needed antidote to needling concerns, unanswered questions, and, at times, a sense of isolation for postgraduate students. Having someone encourage, give direction, affirm and offer insight into an element that has been problematic can pave the way for a more productive way forwards.
We’ve been there! Our experienced team have empathy for postgrad students and recognise that sometimes you just need to have a helping hand. This is why we now offer one-on-one Skype sessions with our qualitative experts. Our team appreciates how important timely supportive and empathic feedback is, and we work hard to make our time with you as productive and helpful as possible. And we’re friendly!
Here’s how it works…
You contact us and tell us a little more about what you need. If a Skype session seems like a great fit, we’ll arrange for a mutually convenient time for you to talk with one of our team. They will spend an hour in preparation for the session reading your work, so you might want to send material relevant to your discussion beforehand; although do bear in mind that we can’t read an entire thesis in an hour. You might also give some thought to the main aims you’d like to achieve in the hour of talk-time. Then we’ll contact you and talk with you for an hour, based on the agreed session outline.
Previous students who have engaged with our Skype sessions have really appreciated them:
I would say what helped me the most was just having a discussion with you as it was absolutely paramount in building my confidence. I felt more confident going into the viva and definitely answered the questions with a lot more conviction. So again, I just want to thank you for all your help! (PhD student)
So, if your project needs an injection of human-to-human discussion, please get in touch via the form below. Sometimes a little support is all it takes for your project to take flight again.
The world of academic writing can be a terrifying place, full of tricky rules and customs. If you’re a student working on an essay, thesis or paper, you might have been told that the writing you’ve poured your heart and soul into is too informal. This vague bit of feedback isn’t much use on its own. But fear not, the Post-Graduate Proof-Reader is here to remove the mystery with some tips which will allow your words to rub shoulders with the greats.
You may find you’re using more shorthand than you realise. You’re sadly unlikely to be encouraging your readers to BYOB to your essay – but you may well be using eg, ie or etc. These are not good academic language, so always make the following substitutions:
eg = for
ie = such
etc = and
The only exception to this is acronyms. If you’ve defined a term with an acronym the first time you use it, use that acronym each subsequent time. For example: In this thesis, I have used interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA). Smith devised IPA in the mid-90s…
Hedging your bets
Research is a tentative world. Experiments are flawed. Some results are replicated, others are disproven. When you’re analysing qualitative data, there is often room for another interpretation. As such, it can be hard to know when you can confidently state that such-and-such a finding is bona fide or when you should be more cautious.
your subject matter, as this will help you decide on your tone of voice. Let’s
look at an example from some hypothetical qualitative findings. If a
participant you’ve named Emma says:
finally had to accept that I needed dialysis, and that made me really depressed
afford to be bold in how you phrase your interpretation. You don’t need to say
‘It appeared that the thought of dialysis distressed Emma’; she’s telling you
in clear and unambiguous language that she was depressed, so it’s fine to state
that as a fact.
Emma might go on to say:
the ward was chaotic, the only company I had was the bleeping of the machines
This is more ambiguous, so reflect that by saying ‘it seems Emma felt isolated.’ You can apply the same logic to the rest of your paper; if an existing finding or theory is uncontroversial, report it as so. Hedge your bets with anything more ambiguous.
‘The model states…’ – or does it?
Remember that models, papers, theories and chapters are not sentient and cannot suggest, confirm or deny anything themselves. It is always the people who wrote or created those ideas who have the agency.
For example, ‘a recent paper agrees’ is not right, whereas ‘the authors of a recent paper agree’ is. ‘The ANOVA demonstrated’ is not right, whereas ‘our use of ANOVA demonstrated’ is.
This can be a hard one to get right but keep trying and it will become second nature. This article on the issue from Walden University is helpful if you want to read more about this.
It’s important for all academics – and especially psychologists – to use language in a way that is respectful of people and mindful of diversity. For example, rather than the unwieldy ‘he or she’, use ‘they’, which is not only neater but also makes space for people who identify as non-binary.
state a person’s humanity before other identifying factors, especially factors
which might be stigmatising. So rather than ‘HIV patient’, you should say ‘person
living with HIV’. ‘Participants’ is a better word than either ‘subjects’ or ‘patients’
as it implies an active rather than a passive stance.
Not only is language like this better for humanity, it is also in line with British Psychological Society (BPS) guidelines and the standards of most journals where you might be sending your work.
If all this feels like far too much like hard work, don’t worry – just get in touch with us via the form below, and we can do all the heavy lifting for you.
PGPR, we’ve recently decided to start charging clients who pay through their
universities (who we’ll call university clients) more than we charge those who
are paying personally (personal clients).
If you are
paying through your uni, you might be asking why we’ve decided to do this.
After all, it can’t take us any longer to read your words than those of someone
who is paying from their pocket, right? So how are these extra charges fair?
While you’re right that the work itself takes no more time, our experience has shown us that setting up and receiving payments from universities is much more time-consuming and stressful than receiving payments straight from clients. That’s why we’ve decided to raise our rates for those clients. Read on to find out more…
The associated admin for receiving payments from universities is much more time-consuming
When we are
invoicing a personal client, all we need to do is send a couple of invoices: one
for a deposit before the work commences, and one for the balance once the piece
is done. The invoice lists all our payment details, and the client can use BACS
or Stripe to pay. Quick and easy for everyone.
When a university is paying us, they usually need to set us up on their system. This involves filling in lots of forms, sometimes having to print them off and post them back. We often have to go through this process two or even three times when the forms get misplaced under the boss’s coffee cup or shredded by an overly zealous work experience student. Some universities need us to fill in a host of forms for every single job we do for them. This takes time – time which we’d much rather be spending reading your fascinating research.
2. Waiting for payments from universities can take a (really) long time
is complete, we ask for payments in 14 days. Deposit payments are due immediately.
We rarely have to chase personal clients for payments – the researchers who
hire us are generally so pleased with our work that they can’t wait to pay, which
makes us feel top-notch!
same cannot be said for universities. Their payment cycles tend to operate in a
way that means suppliers should be paid within 30 days, rather than the 14 we
need for our cash flow. And unfortunately, invoices, like other paperwork, go
missing with alarming regularity in university payroll offices, meaning payments
from university clients are always late. Sometimes by days, sometimes by weeks –
often by months.
Chasing up payments takes time and really doesn’t feel good – so we have decided to be more lenient with the speed at which university clients pay us but ask them to pay us more to make up for this (sadly, inevitable) delay and difficulty.
We hope this blog has answered your questions about why we charge university clients more than personal ones. Of course, if you still think this is unfair, you are welcome to look for another proof-reading service. But we do hope you will stick with PGPR’s winning combination of expert proof-readers, quick turnaround times and honest, friendly service.