Learning Object “Writing: A Search”

Writing : A Search

By : Dr. Juneman Abraham, S.Psi.

Department of Psychology, Faculty of Humanities, BINUS University

INTRODUCTION

One of the barriers to writing for Indonesians is being accustomed to speaking to express one’s ideas. This oral culture is not wrong, but as the Latin proverb says, “Verba Volant, Scripta Manent”. That is, words will evaporate. Only those words written are permanent.

Are you a student who has started to frequently ponder the meaning of your life? Whatever the meaning of your life is, if you write it down, your meaning will always be learned by anyone who discovers it via the Internet, books, or other mediums. In writing, describe your struggles, concepts, and dreams-sadness-hopes, which will give color to anyone who reads it.

All types of writing basically have the opportunity to pass on meaning to the world, including for scientific writings. Do you want something concrete? Read a Psychology student’s thesis entitled Derita Cinta Tak Terbalas, which is now a book. This is an example of a qualitative study, which involves narratives or stories. This scientific paper is useful for us to dare to take a stand for hurt because of unrequited love.

What about quantitative research, which involves numbers and statistics? Do you still remember the situation of our country in early 2020? In those months, many personage (including public officials) in this country denied the existence of COVID-19 virus? Do you remember that it turned out that a professor from Harvard University had announced the results of a study published in a preprint server named Medrxiv? He stated that, based on a statistical analysis of regression of data on the frequency of Indonesian trips to China, this virus should already exist in Indonesia. If you don’t remember, read the news here: “It’s meant to help”: Harvard professor responds after government dismisses study on undetected coronavirus cases. If our nation had responded more seriously and wisely to the research report by making various early preventive measures, perhaps we would have been able to save more lives!

GOOD WRITING COMPONENTS

Of course, you have often heard about the requirements of a good scientific writing. In fact, you study it formally in the Research Methodology course. However, on the surface of this paper, I would like to invite all of us to have an implicit element in us, called Craftsmanship.

Craftsmanship

Have you ever seen a painting, sculpture, craft item, or theatrical performance that amazed you? Until you get absorbed into the painting or sculpture, because it’s so detailed, so deep, and so … unspeakable in its beauty? Yes, that is the masterpiece from Craftsmanship that I mean. Craftsmanship is a unique combination of passion & determination, mastery, and connection.

First of all, we need to have a desire, a passion to describe a thing or phenomenon, explain it, and even predict it. Usually creative ideas about a topic depart from those desires. For example, when I read the public’s anxiety about corruption that is rampant in this country, because they are directly or indirectly affected by corruption, I had empathy and a desire to further explore it. News about corruption also often appears on page one of national newspapers. I am concerned and want to take part in explaining it scientifically.

Is corruption caused by a person’s personality? Or is it because of the pressure of the situation? Or is it a unique combination of traits and situations? How can I predict if there is someone who is known to be pious in one’s home and school environment, and then works in an environment that is loose in moral standards, will he or she corrupt? What is the chance of it occurring?

When I became an undergraduate student like you, I also had an anxiety. At the end of my study, I had an internship at a company, and came across the fact that my Muslim colleagues were struggling between wearing and removing the hijab. Both wearing and removing the hijab it turns out invites responses and challenges from the environment that is not simple. Based on this, I have a passion to describe the struggle, and I put it in my thesis. My painting was finally published, you know, as a research book entitled, Psychology of Fashion. When I was interviewed by various mass media about the motivation to write this book, I said that this all departed from empathy. I quote (Figure 1) an interview in the Media Indonesia newspaper (9/25/2010) (Other media coverage can be seen in this link). Hopefully, it will be a driving force for you to show your hidden desires and ideas.

It talks about desire. Besides desires, we need determination (from the term ‘to determine’ which means ‘determine’). There is a slogan that “Good writing is finished writing!”. As good as our ideas are, as sophisticated as any of the techniques we have designed to do research, if they are not finished and are just sitting virtually inside a laptop, what’s the meaning? Do we have a strong will to “determine” ourselves that our writing will be completed within a certain timeframe?

Desire and determination are necessary. Nevertheless, without mastery, language fluency, and toretic and methodological fluency, we will have difficulty in making a scientific paper. For those of you who feel the need to improve your language skills and methodological competencies, don’t hesitate to take in various information or online courses about this. Many of them are free on the Internet. Come on, set aside time. Invest your time in it. Why is fluency in these two things (language, theoretical-methodological) important? This is because scientific writing certainly uses scientific concepts. Scientific concepts come from the scientific community. Not the terms we compose ourselves!

For example, I mentored an undergraduate student in doing a thesis about why some social science students hate and some love statistics. What can predict these feelings? Then he observed a symptom. It turns out that if we study Statistics, we will face new logic and new formulas, which we cannot always digest immediately. We are struck by feelings of uncertainty when studying Statistics. There are those who are less resistant to this novelty and uncertainty. There are also those who are more resistant, so they are willing to settle and process the lessons they receive. Well, what is the right concept to represent symptoms like this? (Oh, apparently, it’s called: Tolerance of Ambiguity!). The words “tolerance of ambiguity” will not appear in our heads if we rarely or never read scientific literature. We become alienated from the scientific world because we lack literacy and are poor in vocabulary.

Figure 1. The Background of Researching and Scientific Writing

Scientific literature is indeed a representative or representation of the symptoms or reality around us. There are indeed many representatives or representations of reality, not just scientific literature. For example, there are proverbs. Maybe we know the proverb, “Like upholding a wet thread”, which represents reality: Doing useless things. Movies can also represent reality. Similarly, short stories are touted as being “based on true stories”.

However, scientific literature has certain advantages, namely the building of logical and rational thinking, which is supported by the building of facts in the field. Interestingly, scientific literature can always be made into films and used as rhymes. Oh yes, why do I call it “building”? We can indeed imagine scientific literature as a building. That is, we need to position ourselves as one of the building elements (There is also a more extreme comparison: our research and scientific writing is a small dot that contributes to the vast ocean). A byword states, “There’s nothing new under the sun.” There is nothing really new under this sky. When we start scientific writing, we depart from the awareness that we are not “reinventing the wheel”, making new buildings, but using or assessing existing wheels, to make or find “carts”, “rickshaws”,”cars”,”ships”, or our “aircraft”. Concretely, through scientific writing, we are actually in a dialogue with other writers virtually, both authors who are still alive and writers who have died. We use their research knowledge and findings as material to organize our research and scientific writing.

Therefore, you need to be diligent in reading! Look for quality readings, so that your ideas and writing are also of good quality. Westerners say, “Garbage in, garbage out!” If the things that enter (into our heads) are “rubbish” information or knowledge (for example, misinformation, disinformation, or scientific knowledge that cannot be accounted for), then it is difficult to expect that what is written (in our scientific writing) is gold.

Through scientific writing, as part of craftsmanship, we want to connect with other people, other writers, and other communities. You contribute something to your community, your society. The results of your research are certainly not intended only to fulfill the Bachelor’s graduation requirements, but also to become part of the building or vast ocean of human civilization based on scientific knowledge. So, always remember your identity when writing something scientific: You are the guardians of human civilization!

IMRAD

I have explained the elements of Craftsmanship. Now we will go into the more explicit and technical components of a scientific paper, namely IMRAD (Introduction, Method, Results, and Discussion).

You can start writing from anywhere, if the research is already at an advanced stage (you have already taken data and performed a statistical analysis, for example). However, if you are just starting out or are writing a research proposal, my suggestion is that you start with the Introduction.

Concept maps (mind maps) can be used as a way to “doodle out ideas”. Every time you have a new idea, jot it down on your cellphone or your laptop. You can also record your own voice. Remember that our capacity to remember is limited. We forget easily. In addition, creative ideas usually have their own moments to emerge.

At a certain moment, our ideas emerge so abundantly. At other times, we are like a drought of ideas. Therefore, if an idea appears, don’t waste it; record it immediately, jot it down immediately. You will collect and compile it later as a beautiful mosaic in scientific writing. My point is, when creative ideas don’t seem to be in order, don’t see it like a mystical thing. The emergence of creative ideas still requires input. Where did the input come from? Yes, it comes from your observations and readings, as well as from chatting with other people. The more we get better input, the internal dimension in you will process it, both consciously and unconsciously! This is called the settling period, the incubation period of ideas, before they are mature enough to become an idea. If there are no ingredients, what do you want to precipitate? A scientific idea will not come up by looking for inspiration by sitting under a frangipani tree!

To start an Introduction, you need to ask why you want to know something, and why it is important to know right now. An Introduction is a mixture between observations and literature. For example, you observe the symptoms of impulsive buying. In fact, you may experience this symptom yourself. You might also notice that there are “worrying” statistics among young people about these symptoms. If this impulsive purchase is not explained successfully, you assume that this phenomenon will harm many young people financially, make them wasteful, get into debt, and have even other further impacts (for example, be involved as a drug dealer to get money to buy goods). By the way, Figure 1 that I told you before, can also be part of an Introduction.

You start by searching on Google Scholar by entering the keywords ‘impulsive buying’ or ‘buying impulsively’. You write down what other people have researched, and think about if you want to repeat the research (replication) or complete the research (replication plus). For example, you may want to explain the symptoms of impulsive buying using the concept of one’s cultural orientation.

You have such an opinion or position, because you, after reading through Google Scholar, are not satisfied with the writer’s explanation of impulsive purchases that are related to personality concepts, attitudes, and emotional disturbances. You may affirm your opinion with logic and support of other scientific articles (scientific journals, scientific conference proceedings, theses, dissertations, etc.): Why cultural orientation plays an important role in explaining one’s impulsive buying. Next, you make it as a research problem statement (in the form of a question); for example: Does a certain type of a cultural orientation predict a person’s tendency to make impulsive purchases? Therefore, your real research goal is to answer that question.

If you remember a Science / Logic / Methodology Philosophy course, the above process can be described as an activity to collect scientific premises (research results that you find through Google Scholar) to compile your conclusions. Your conclusion is basically a hypothesis that you will propose to be tested.

In the example above, the “first premise” might be the result of research that states that cultural orientation is related to one’s impulsive behavior. There is also a “second premise”, the results of research that you find stating that cultural orientation is related to a person’s buying behavior. Based on these two “premises”, you construct a “conclusion” in the form of a hypothesis or rational conjecture that cultural orientation can explain impulsive buying behavior.

The things above are simple examples of how the Introduction is structured, starting from observing the field conditions, observing a number of literature collected through Google Scholar, and processing on your own based on the “premises” collected. That is, in this Introduction part, you must have a clear frame of mind, which is your way of thinking to answer the problems that you raised in this research.

In this paper, I will not discuss much about Methods. You have already gotten this discussion in basic lectures on philosophy and research methodology. Repetition will only saturate this article.

Nevertheless, I will emphasize one thing that is most important in this section of the Method. Namely: Make your Method section as open and transparent as possible. For example, continuing the Introduction section above, you want to know if a person’s cultural orientation influences his impulsive purchases, and you are interested in using a questionnaire to capture his data.

Therefore, in the Method section, you need to write in detail: Who are the groups of people you are going to recruit or ask to be willing to fill out your questionnaire, why does it have to be that group of people (not other groups), what are the criteria for the groups that can participate in your research, what is your research design, who can be a research assistant, what are the concrete operations (for example, if you do laboratory experiments, what are the exact steps), what are the contents of your questionnaire to be able to “measure” the types of cultural orientation & at the same time “measure” the tendency of someone’s impulsive buying (and from which items you generated your questionnaire), how to process data that will be collected, up to, how you communicate with those who influence your research process, and has ethical approval for your research been obtained? (when your research procedure has the potential to “hurt” or cause “injury” to the participant, both physically and mentally, the slightest level of pain or injury).

Specifically in the Method section, when we write scientifically, we need to imagine that there will always be other people or researchers who will doubt your research. Yes ALWAYS! As researchers, you (we!) need to have a democratic spirit, according to the Fourth Precept of Pancasila. We need to voluntarily let other researchers reexamine our research. How? Other researchers can simply read our writing, and they can independently repeat our research process WITHOUT having to contact us via email only to request our questionnaire (or primary data filter). In addition, make the data we have collected accessible 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Online! This is what in today’s development is called the Open Science practice. With open science, we are willing to be tested by anyone, we are willing to be “used” by anyone for the common good.

Recently, we were all shocked by the news that a research result claimed that certain drugs were not effective for treating COVID-19 (so there was no need to continue the research project). The publication of the results of the research had to be withdrawn from two leading scientific journals. Why? When the author was reviewed by another researcher, asking for his research data, the writer said, “Our data is confidential”. These words indicate that the writer is not willing, or unable to be responsible for the data. This should not happen in a good scientific writing practice.

It’s obvious that in the scientific research that you wrote down, there shouldn’t be MYSTERY in it! All the processes and all the procedures must be very clear; nothing is hidden. You need to have a democratic spirit! There is no need to be afraid of your ideas or your research tools being “stolen” by others. Science will not develop properly if this kind of fear is developed.

In order to have an idea of what the Method section is like, I included Figure 2, taken from my article titled “National culture as a correlate of research output and impact”. Note that I clearly state the secondary data sources (data from other parties) that I use, the data processing tools, and their analysis techniques.

Figure 2. One of the Ways to Write Method Section

Now, we move to the Results section. Kindly describe the results of our data processing, both quantitatively and qualitatively. Once again, a description. This part of the results does not yet involve the meaning or interpretation of the data. Just describe the results. You can use tables and pictures as a means to visualize the results of your research.

One thing that is also important in this section is the presentation of results according to the inhouse style of your writing medium. For example, if the style of the environment in your thesis or scientific journal template is APA (American Psychological Association) Style, then the way to present the Difference Test Table with a one-way ANOVA analysis is as shown in Figure 3.

As you can see, the table has no vertical lines. This table is also not the result of a copy-paste from a data processing program (SPSS, for example), but rather is adapted to the APA Style format. Statistical indices such as M (mean), SD (standard deviation), F, and p are italicized. Especially for APA Style, if you want to know the complete inhouse style, please download the guide for free on the APA Style Blog. The thing to remember is that every style of an environment (inhouse style) has a way to organize their writing. A tip in this regard is: Strictly follow the inhouse style.

Picture 3. One of the ways to present the results of research using the help of Tables (Souce: Sample One-Experiment Paper)

In the Discussion section, we give meaning to the results of our research, and explain the position of our research results among other study results. Are our results similar, different, contrasting, or supporting research by other people or groups? Why is it like that? Are there alternative explanations for research results that are not in accordance with your initial expectations? Is there literature support (journals, proceedings, books, etc.) that can help you to elaborate your reasoning in understanding? Are the results of your research universally applicable – in a variety of environmental contexts, or does it apply in particular – only to a limited environment? What are the implications and suggestions (theoretical, practical) of the results of your research? What is the significance of your writing for one or more topics in a field of science?

One important thing to remember in this section is that we as writers / researchers should not give an “excessive interpretation” of the results of our research. Look again at the method we use. For example, if you do your research by taking data using a questionnaire (not a laboratory experiment), then you cannot write down that your results are about a causal relationship; for example: types of cultural orientation have caused / influenced the impulse buying tendencies. At most, you can only state that types of cultural orientation are related to or predict impulsive buying trends. Methodologically, you can find this explanation in Research Methodology books.

An example of writing a Discussion for research results that contradicts the results of previous studies is shown in Figure 4. You can end this discussion with a Conclusion.

Figure 4. Discussion of Research Results (Souce : Impulsive buying, cultural values dimensions, and symbolic meaning of money)

CLOSING

 In the process of scientific writing, there are three things that we can learn from this article.

First, discovering a topic requires observation / sensitivity, reading, and imagination.

Second, the search for scientific meaning and truth through scientific writing urgently requires self-reflection and feedback from others.

Third, completing a writing requires self-determination and technical mastery.

Hopefully, all of this article gives you spirit and helps you to start writing, right now!

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Assignment

For further explanation about topic, check out this video https://bit.ly/CreativeWriting-aSearch-Video

And For claiming SAT Point, you can complete the assignment from this below:

  1. Tell me about a desire and passion you have to research something that interests you! 
  2. Make a scientific writing framework by following the arrangement of I-M-R-A-D! (If you have just written a research proposal / suggestion, it is enough to make an I-M from I-M-R-A-D). Please use a concept map (mind map) if needed. 
  3. Furthermore, you may send your assignment (Creative Writing) to this link https://bit.ly/UpLoad-Assignment-LearningObject