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Academic Research Process in Ppsm

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Kongres Pengajaran & Pembelajaran UKM 2011

Academic Research Process: A Review on current practice in PPSM

Noriza Majid*, Rokiah@Rozita Ahmad, Ummul Khair Salma Din, Azmin Sham Rambely,

Nur Riza Mohd Suradi, & Faridatul Azna Ahmad Shahabudin

Faculty of Science & Technology, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, 43600 UKM Bangi Malaysia


Academic research is a compulsory short research project for the final year students of Pusat Pengajian Sains Matematik (PPSM). This research project intends to give the opportunity to the students in applying the knowledge from previous courses to produce a quality research through guided self learning. Among the issues often raised by supervisors is the quality of the research topic, rehashing and writing skills of the academic work which is unsatisfactory. Some students take longer time to complete the project than the specified period given. This study aims to review the current practice and propose the improvement for the process.

© 2010 Published by Elsevier Ltd.

Keywords: final year project; quality of research; current practice

1. Introduction

Academic research can be defined as the systematic, rigorous investigation of a situation or problem in order to generate new knowledge or validate existing knowledge. Academic research takes place in various areas such as industrial and specialized practices, environmental issues affecting human life and health, vitality, theory development, and others. Academic research can be conducted by one group of experts for generation of knowledge development and innovation, or by collaborating of diverse group of researchers on a certain problem or issue. Research normally involves knowledge searching, or systematic investigation, in order to establish novel facts, solve new or existing problems, prove new ideas, or develop new theories, usually using a scientific method (Thompson 1996). The focus here is scientific inquiry.

Academic research can be classified into few categories, namely exploratory research, refining or testing the existing theory, or integrated research (Paul & Clayton 2005). Exploratory research is a type of research conducted for a problem that has not been clearly defined, or when there are no prior studies and documentation of the phenomenon. Generalisations regarding the phenomenon under observation will be made by the researcher. Meanwhile, in refining the existing theory, previous theory that is available but still cannot explain the phenomenon specifically. This type research often involves some modifications or enlargements on the model. A new theoretical model is expected outcome form this type of research and model validation is required. Another type of research is testing an existing theory whereby from an existing theory new testable hypotheses are derived tested with a new set of relevant data. Integrated research involves complex problems and multidisciplinary research. Academic research is also known as scientific investigations.

The main purpose for academic research to be conducted is to answer specific questions or solve certain-related problems. Basic scientific investigation acquires the generation of new knowledge or development of new theories; sometime the results obtained cannot be applied directly to specific situations. Some research provides an accurate portrayal of characteristics of a particular individual, situation, or group as the outcome.

The research process is a great deal of task regardless of the type of research one is conducting. The research process is recursive and starts from general questions, then focusing on one particular aspect of interest before designing and analyzing this aspect, and finally concludes and generalises the findings. .

Figure 1 Research Process

2. Academic Research in PPSM

The final year research project has been one of the major mechanisms used by the Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) in providing the students with an opportunity to gain experience in the practical, effective, efficient, and beneficial application of what the students have been studying for the past few years. This final year project will be their first exposure to experience in project work where their competency will be assessed and also preparing them for their internship. It is very important for them to learn from this exposure and apply the mathematical sciences theories that they have learned in the classroom.

As a fulfillment in obtaining their bachelor degree, final year research project is one of the compulsory core courses required for students in PPSM, Faculty of Science and Technology, UKM. The main purpose of this academic research is to equip the students with self-learning and research skills with the supervision of an appointed supervisor among the lecturers on existing, extended or new topic in the area of mathematical sciences. Shaharir (2000) highlighted that final year projects could develop the students' ability to experience the dynamics of current mathematical sciences issues, either chosen by them or proposed by the supervisors. Research topic is either interesting topics of which the students did not have a chance to study or the expansion of materials that they have studied (Undergraduate Handbook 2009). Students are required to implement the project in one semester, which is the last semester of their study. In the first week of the semester, students should be able to determine which areas of research to be done.

After the process of literature review has been done, they have to propose the topics and scope of the study together with the references list. From time to time students and supervisors will engage in a few discussion sessions. At the end of the semester, students are required to write the research as an academic paper and then present it in a formal session. The flow of the whole processes involved is as shown in Figure 2.

Figure 2: The learning outcomes for the final year project

3. Problems Finding a research topics

Regarding the methodology, among the common mistakes done by the students is choosing the methodology that is inappropriate with the data,

Lack of compu

4. Proposed improvements to the



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