RESEARCH BULLETIN_
March 2015____
Vol. 1, Issue no.1____
 
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Past Events

Seminar on Research Methodology Design
A well designed and presented research methodology is the key to the success of a research grant application. A seminar on research methodology design, the second one of the series for Research Capability Enhancement for the Self-financing Degree Sector of Hong Kong, brought the audience to an in-depth view of this issue.

The seminar, held on 23 March 2015 in the University of Hong Kong, featured Dr Peter Cunich, former Head of Department of History and Associate Dean of Faculty of Arts at the University of Hong Kong. The seminar included a presentation by Dr Cunich and a group discussion session. Having years of experience in evaluating and vetting research grant applications, Dr Cunich shared his advice on ways to best explain the research methodology in a research proposal. The following presents a summary of the advice.

1) Know your audience and write to purpose. The language (e.g. terminology and proper names) used should follow the convention of the discipline. A research methodology should not be a restatement of research objectives, but provides very detailed description and justifications of the proposed method(s). Dr Cunich also reminded that one should not presume the methodology chosen is self-evident.

2) Take adequate time to design your methodology. It may take months to develop a research methodology. Dr Cunich encouraged academics to start this process when the call for applications is announced, in order to allocate ample time for seeking peer comments, re-writing and editing.

3) Choose the appropriate methodology. Dr Cunich shared three approaches of research methodology, namely methodological approach, taxonomic approach and disciplinary approach. Academics are reminded to choose carefully among different methodologies in a discipline, and avoid using competing methodologies in a proposal.

4) Be humble and take advice from peers. Dr Cunich emphasised the importance of peer review. He encouraged academics not to treat their proposals as something not subject to change, but always be open to refine them.

A number of good and bad examples of research methodology were also shared in the seminar. Below are two of the bad examples which reviewers would find unpleasant:

Example 1: “I will use traditional historical research methods to investigate the early years of prostitution in Hong Kong. I will make use of government records in the National Archives in London, newspaper reports in English and Chinese newspapers in Hong Kong, and I will try to find first-hand accounts of Hong Kong brothels during this time period.”

As commented by Dr Cunich, details do matter. This description of methodology has three problems. First, phrasing the methodology with an ambiguous term (“traditional historical research methods”) is not informative. There are no discussions on what the ‘traditional historical research methods’ are. Second, details of the sources of data are missing, e.g. where the sources will be retrieved. Third, the description does not include what the principal investigator would do out of the data.

Example 2: “Data Collection through action research and field observation with in-depth interviews of doctors, nurses and patients.”

In this description, details of the methodology are missing. The principal investigator needs to define what he or she meant by ‘action research’ and ‘field observation’, and provides additional information such as appointment of interviewers, process of choosing interviewees, details of questionnaires and how the fields oberservation is to be done.


Seminar on Proposal Development for Research Funding Applications
As an integral part of academic work, academics have to equip themselves with proper skills in preparation of proposals for research funding applications. While funding bodies may have different requirements, there are generic skills necessary for writing a proposal of high quality as well as avoiding common pitfalls. This seminar invited high quality as well as avoiding common pitfalls. This seminar invited Professor Horace Ip, Vice President (Student Affairs) at City University of Hong Kong, to share his experience in preparation of high quality proposals for research funding.

The seminar, held on 22 January 2015, covered three areas, namely “research & research funding”, “preparation of research proposal” and “the review process”. Professor Ip began by explaining the importance of doing research, stating that “teaching transfers existing knowledge, while research generates new knowledge”. He introduced several major sources of research funding, including Research Grants Council (RGC), Innovation and Technology Commission (ITC), Education Bureau (EDB) and Food and Health Bureau (FHB). Professor Ip said that the nature of a research proposal is similar to that of a sales document, through which one has to persuade the reviewers of his/ her ideas.

A well-written proposal, as Professor Ip elaborated, should provide a new lens to the research topic and have broad impact to the society. The background section should state clearly the works done by others on the topic and the researcher’s own efforts in the study. Professor Ip emphasised the importance of research methodology which either makes, or breaks, one’s proposal.

Therefore, the methodology and tasks for achieving each objective of the study should be clearly explained in the proposal. Professor Ip also gave some tips for researchers who are new to a discipline or junior in experience – they could first seek internal funding to do preliminary work to build up their track record, or collaborate with suitable Co-I(s) to supplement the missing skills and expertise in their proposals.

Professor Ip also introduced the review panel and process for RGC funding schemes, and discussed the considerations that reviewers commonly have. Last but not least, he pointed out some critical concerns in nomination of reviewers and re-submission of proposals.

The seminar was practical and inspiring, and has given academics useful insights into the skills of writing research proposals for applications of research funding.

*For further details, please refer to the PowerPoint file of the seminar.


Seminar on Using iThenticate for Ensuring Originality of Proposals and Papers
An anti-plagiarism tool, iThenticate, has been made available for academics through the University’s project of the RGC Institutional Development Scheme. Dr Billy Wong of University Research Centre gave a seminar on 19 January 2015 introducing the features and functions of this tool. He also demonstrated the use of iThenticate and talked about the limitations and misconceptions of using it.

*For further details, please refer to the PowerPoint file of the seminar.


Seminar on Using Endnote for Effective Bibliographic Management and Referencing
This seminar was delivered by Dr Billy Wong of University Research Centre on 12 March 2015. It introduced the features of a bibliographic management tool, Endnote. Endnote allows users to effectively manage their bibliographic references, and to efficiently cite the references in Word files according to the referencing styles required. In the seminar, Dr Wong demonstrated the use of this tool and shared some tips and limitations of using it.

*For further details, please refer to the PowerPoint file of the seminar.


Seminar on Total Water Management in Hong Kong











As part of the University’s IDS project, S&T has established the Institute for Research in Innovative Technology and Sustainability (IRITS). IRITS aims to strengthen the Environmental Science research in Algae and Water Quality and to develop research capacity in the area of Computer Engineering. The first research seminar organised by IRITS was given on 6 February 2015. Professor Kin-chung Ho was invited to present the topic “Total Water Management in Hong Kong”.

*For futher information, please contact Dr Shui-ching Ho (S&T) at scho@ouhk.edu.hk or 2670 3159.


Seminar on Use of Local Marine Microalgae as an Environmental Friendly and Sustainable Source of Renewable Energy











The second research seminar organised by IRITS was given on 13 February 2015. Mr Kam-chau Wu was invited to present the topic “Use of Local Marine Microalgae as an Environmental Friendly and Sustainable Source of Renewable Energy”.

*For futher information, please contact Dr Shui-ching Ho (S&T) at scho@ouhk.edu.hk or 2670 3159.


Seminar on Environmental Stimulating Factors and Physiological Mechanism of Diarrheic Shellfish Poisoning (DSP) Toxin Production in Microalgae
The third research seminar organised by IRITS was given on 6 March 2015. Mr Chun-hung Lee was invited to present the topic “Environmental Stimulating Factors and Physiological Mechanism of Diarrheic Shellfish Poisoning (DSP) Toxin Production in Microalgae”.

*For futher information, please contact Dr Shui-ching Ho (S&T) at scho@ouhk.edu.hk or 2670 3159.