Before observing the importance of the book Mechanics of Research Writing, I would like to think about the present state of academic research writing in India in general and Northern India in particular which is sadly derivative or at its worst merely copying and pasting of material from here to there. This sort of writing is nothing but the smartly and cunningly presentation of another person’s ‘ideas’ or ‘information’ after a slight modification which is also known as plagiarism’. We all know that ‘plagiarism is a moral and ethical offence rather than a legal’ one (as per MLA Handbook, 7th edition), so our few fellow pseudo writers(hereinafter I will address them so) just take notes and present wording from it as if it were all their own. Sometimes these pseudo writers browse the web, copy and paste the articles, reviews or papers and rewrite it as it is without acknowledging the source while at another time they copy and paste chapters from universities’ research theses or old issues of research journals shamelessly. This sort of bland writing and reserching is so commonly in vague that one cannot even imagine of a quality writing in the future years. Secondly, the proliferation of pseudo-scholars, editors, poets, or researchers both online and offline and their haste to bring out as many books as they can or as many journals they can capture for the sake of publication of their plagiarized material is also very common scene now a days. Thirdly, the pedestal publishers who are more ailed with maladies like Commercialization, Capitalism, Marketization and commission-based sale of books in both College and University libraries have left me in the jitters. How could we be able to reap the harvest from such pest-stricken field? What else would we expect from these pseudo scholars who are eating leftovers of others shattering their originality?
Although “All is not lost”, if we are genuine readers or writers and prefer quality to quantity, we will find some good and qualitative authors among our coterie. One of such genuine scholars is Prof. R. K. Singh who has been writing over decades without any petty urge to come to the dazzling light of renown. People will always remember Prof. Singh for his qualitative and exhaustive research papers on IWE, equally enlightening book reviews, thought-provoking and erotic poetry, and very useful and beneficial books on ELT, Grammar and Research Writing.
The present book Mechanics of Research Writing by R. K. Singh simplifies the difficult task of research writing and even sharpens the skill of neo entrant as well as accomplished one. The book is the second edition of the book earlier titled Writing Your Thesis and Research Paper, which was written with a aim “to explain how post-graduate and doctoral students can improve the structure and style of their dissertations thesis, reports and articles.” (IV) The book also tells the scholars as to how to overcome the problems that they encounter before and after writing along with certain guidelines, they should bear in their minds while writing. The author has divided and updated the book into eight chapters keeping in view of the difficulties of Indian scholars that he came across while interacting the “scores of research students”. The four chapters of the book deal with theoretical concepts and do’s and don’ts of academic communication thinking, analyzing, organizing revising editing processes, style and an ‘interactional process approach to research writing’. Each scholar should seriously read the fourth chapter of “Research and Writing” because it makes clear what an ideal research is. According to the author, research literally means, “a hunting for facts or inquiry, probe, investigation, the motivation is to discover, which in scientific research particularly, involves a process of verification, comparison with known or natural laws, generalization, and possible expansion into other fields.” (63) Here the author has also thrown light on plagiarism, which is a “wrongful act”, as well as an academic dishonesty in which an author puts another person’s ideas without acknowledging the source. The author has given certain examples from MLA Handbook Second Edition 1987 and has suggested the scholars to be honest while researching and writing. In the subsequent four chapters, the author added exemplary models and formats of referencing. The sixth chapter of “Writing Abstract” guides the researchers to write a good abstract that is the hallmark of good researching. The seventh chapter of punctuation is also important as many scholars remain unaware of such nitty-gritty of writing and thus fail to attain perfection. The last chapter ‘Summing Up’ discusses the pattern of arrangement of the research matter with tips and points to remember after the typing of the dissertation or thesis and in the last passage of the book Prof. Singh has very remarkably said to all the scholars which if we remember while writing, we will definitely attain the unattainable goal. He says:
Your way of writing or style, shows how you ‘think out into language’, how you ‘dress’ your thoughts, how you present the total information, your knowledge, your sincerity and attitude are reflected in your presentation, your readers expect you to be objective in your approach to the problem, impartial in the analysis of data, and honest in the presentation of facts. (182)
I would suggest every honest researcher at least to take a glimpse of the book so that he/she may know the worth of the book and I would especially suggest the book to scholars of northern India where research writing is still the real area of darkness.