e-book Independent Scholars Handbook: How to Turn Your Interest in Any Subject into Expertise

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Students often ask when they should start actually writing the thesis. Writing will very likely cause you to clarify or reframe your questions, which will then send you back to do more research. This kind of low-stakes writing can help you find your way to greater clarity and insight. Revision is absolutely crucial to the process of writing a text as long and complex as a thesis. Talk with your advisor to set up realistic personal writing goals and deadlines that both keep you on track to make the required deadlines and leave room for revision along the way.

You are required by the HSS Division to submit a full draft of your thesis about eight weeks into the second term. Your advisor and your first reader will give you comments on that draft, and you will then spend the remaining weeks of the year revising your draft to respond to those comments and to make other changes that you yourself have identified as important.

Reed College | History | Thesis Handbook for History Majors

Final revisions might include conducting targeted research, reorganizing the document, refining your prose style, and reformulating your argument into its clearest and most effective form. Your thesis has a staying power that no other piece of work you do in college will have. Make sure your finished document is polished and professional. The library will check that you are following the template properly, and your advisor will help identify errors of fact or interpretation.

But ultimate responsibility for ensuring that your thesis is a polished piece of work rests with you. You should not expect your advisor to proofread for you. Make sure that your thesis is free of typographical errors, misspellings, irregular punctuation, and other mechanical errors. If you are not adept at proofreading, get help from a friend who is. Finally, whatever program you use to write your thesis, be sure to back up your work on a regular basis. Every year students lose drafts and data when their computer equipment fails before they have backed up.

Such losses are lamentable--and entirely avoidable. There are many services on campus and online to support you as you write your thesis. Remember that in addition to your advisor, you can reach out to other faculty for advice. Academic Support Services provides specialized workshops for thesis writers, organizes thesis writing groups, and offers one-on-one thesis writing guidance. CUS creates the template for thesis and provides advice on formatting and computer-related problems. While thesis is an independent research project, it does not have to be a lonely pursuit. In the past, seniors have formed small support groups to share work, talk about experiences with research, relationships with advisors, and other aspects of the thesis process.

Finding the right balance of support and solitude that works for you can make your thesis year more enjoyable and productive. This librarian can help you find sources for your thesis and advise you on the research process. This could even include the purchase of sources or database subscriptions to aid your research. In addition to research, librarians can help you set up and maintain your bibliography and provide advice on Zotero and other digital tools. For more information on the support offered by the library for thesis, visit their guide: libguides.

The independent scholar's handbook

Zotero is a note-taking and bibliography tool that was developed by historians. It is free and relatively easy to use. The library often has zotero workshops, and can also set up one-on-one appointments. The history department cannot offer grants for seniors to conduct research, however there are resources on campus to which history majors can apply.


History students have been very successful in applications for Initiative Grants, and you can find more information about application materials and deadlines here: reed. While the senior thesis is central to the Reed Curriculum, we are not the only college to require a capstone project. Here are links to guides to thesis writing produced by other history departments. While these sites contain guidelines specific to each institution, you might find useful advice about research and writing.

If you are looking for further advice about research and sources, here are some materials recommended by history faculty. Wayne Booth, et al.

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The Harvard Guide to Using Sources: usingsources. The Chicago Manual of Style is the preferred style guide in history. It has useful information about grammar, punctuation, and citation. Quick Citation Guide: chicagomanualofstyle. Full: chicagomanualofstyle. Avoiding and Detecting Plagiarism: gc.

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Skip to Reed contact information. Reed College. History Department. Basics Units: Thesis is a year-long course that counts for two units. Process Your thesis may well be the most challenging and the most rewarding aspect of your academic experience at Reed. Finding a Topic Your first major decision in the thesis process will be developing a viable topic for your research. How narrow or wide should my topic be? Clinical decisionmaking is particularly influenced by interpersonal relationships with colleagues, 39 patient conditions, availability of resources, 40 knowledge, and experience.

This requires accurate interpretation of patient data that is relevant to the specific patient and situation. As Dunne notes,. A practice is not just a surface on which one can display instant virtuosity.

It grounds one in a tradition that has been formed through an elaborate development and that exists at any juncture only in the dispositions slowly and perhaps painfully acquired of its recognized practitioners. Clearly Dunne is engaging in critical reflection about the conditions for developing character, skills, and habits for skillful and ethical comportment of practitioners, as well as to act as moral agents for patients so that they and their families receive safe, effective, and compassionate care. Professional socialization or professional values, while necessary, do not adequately address character and skill formation that transform the way the practitioner exists in his or her world, what the practitioner is capable of noticing and responding to, based upon well-established patterns of emotional responses, skills, dispositions to act, and the skills to respond, decide, and act.

In nursing and medicine, many have questioned whether current health care institutions are designed to promote or hinder enlightened, compassionate practice, or whether they have deteriorated into commercial institutional models that focus primarily on efficiency and profit. MacIntyre points out the links between the ongoing development and improvement of practice traditions and the institutions that house them:.

Lack of justice, lack of truthfulness, lack of courage, lack of the relevant intellectual virtues—these corrupt traditions, just as they do those institutions and practices which derive their life from the traditions of which they are the contemporary embodiments. To recognize this is of course also to recognize the existence of an additional virtue, one whose importance is perhaps most obvious when it is least present, the virtue of having an adequate sense of the traditions to which one belongs or which confront one.

This virtue is not to be confused with any form of conservative antiquarianism; I am not praising those who choose the conventional conservative role of laudator temporis acti. It is rather the case that an adequate sense of tradition manifests itself in a grasp of those future possibilities which the past has made available to the present.

Living traditions, just because they continue a not-yet-completed narrative, confront a future whose determinate and determinable character, so far as it possesses any, derives from the past 30 p. It would be impossible to capture all the situated and distributed knowledge outside of actual practice situations and particular patients.

However, students can be limited in their inability to convey underdetermined situations where much of the information is based on perceptions of many aspects of the patient and changes that have occurred over time. Simulations cannot have the sub-cultures formed in practice settings that set the social mood of trust, distrust, competency, limited resources, or other forms of situated possibilities.

Social and Cognitive Handbook

One of the hallmark studies in nursing providing keen insight into understanding the influence of experience was a qualitative study of adult, pediatric, and neonatal intensive care unit ICU nurses, where the nurses were clustered into advanced beginner, intermediate, and expert level of practice categories. The advanced beginner having up to 6 months of work experience used procedures and protocols to determine which clinical actions were needed. When confronted with a complex patient situation, the advanced beginner felt their practice was unsafe because of a knowledge deficit or because of a knowledge application confusion.

The transition from advanced beginners to competent practitioners began when they first had experience with actual clinical situations and could benefit from the knowledge gained from the mistakes of their colleagues. Competent nurses continuously questioned what they saw and heard, feeling an obligation to know more about clinical situations. Beyond that, the proficient nurse acknowledged the changing relevance of clinical situations requiring action beyond what was planned or anticipated. Both competent and proficient nurses that is, intermediate level of practice had at least two years of ICU experience.

Expertise is acquired through professional experience and is indicative of a nurse who has moved beyond mere proficiency. As Gadamer 29 points out, experience involves a turning around of preconceived notions, preunderstandings, and extends or adds nuances to understanding.

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  8. Experiential learning requires time and nurturing, but time alone does not ensure experiential learning. Aristotle linked experiential learning to the development of character and moral sensitivities of a person learning a practice. The most effective knower and developer of practical knowledge creates an ongoing dialogue and connection between lessons of the day and experiential learning over time. Gadamer, in a late life interview, highlighted the open-endedness and ongoing nature of experiential learning in the following interview response:. Being experienced does not mean that one now knows something once and for all and becomes rigid in this knowledge; rather, one becomes more open to new experiences.

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    A person who is experienced is undogmatic. Experience has the effect of freeing one to be open to new experience … In our experience we bring nothing to a close; we are constantly learning new things from our experience … this I call the interminability of all experience 32 p. Practical endeavor, supported by scientific knowledge, requires experiential learning, the development of skilled know-how, and perceptual acuity in order to make the scientific knowledge relevant to the situation. Clinical perceptual and skilled know-how helps the practitioner discern when particular scientific findings might be relevant.

    Often experience and knowledge, confirmed by experimentation, are treated as oppositions, an either-or choice. However, in practice it is readily acknowledged that experiential knowledge fuels scientific investigation, and scientific investigation fuels further experiential learning. Experiential learning from particular clinical cases can help the clinician recognize future similar cases and fuel new scientific questions and study. For example, less experienced nurses—and it could be argued experienced as well—can use nursing diagnoses practice guidelines as part of their professional advancement.

    Experience precedes expertise. In doing so, the nurse thinks reflectively, rather than merely accepting statements and performing procedures without significant understanding and evaluation. Through a combination of knowledge and skills gained from a range of theoretical and experiential sources, expert nurses also provide holistic care. Experts are thought to eventually develop the ability to intuitively know what to do and to quickly recognize critical aspects of the situation. In fact, several studies have found that length of professional experience is often unrelated and even negatively related to performance measures and outcomes.