Most Annoying Thesis Mistakes that you need to avoid

My prestigious university allowed me to be a spectator during the external viva of their graduating students. As per tradition, this is conducted by a guest professor from some an other University. Professor was asking questions about their work and giving remarks and recommendations about the thesis.

There were few mistakes in the thesis which being repeated by almost every student. Mistakes were so common that can be neglected by any student or supervisor and influence the overall influence more than we think.

Most Common Mistakes in Thesis

Spelling Mistakes

hippopotamus in brain
Your ‘Hippopotamus’ needs fixation, said Dr. Duck

Grammatical mistakes, at this level, are somehow avoidable only if the sentence is making sense but not the spelling mistakes. Poorly spelled words have very bad impression on the document. Suppose, you are writing about the “3D conformation” of proteins and you write it “3D confirmation”. Sometimes a single mistake of spelling makes a completely different sense of the sentence.

There was a student while writing about the brain. He wrote ‘hippopotamus’ because he only remembered that the part of the brain that controlled the Pituitary Gland went something like that, and ‘hippopotamus’ was the closest word he could think of.

Binomial Nomenclature

This is one of the most basic norms of scientific norms. While talking to the Professor, he told me, “Scientific names always need to be written in italic, students don’t pay attention to it.” He added, “while writing any name of microbe or virus, don’t forget to mention the variant or strain especially if it is commercial.”

Harry potter - Wingardium Levisoa
Let me try Wingardium Leviosa

Have you seen Harry Potter? Great! Wrong format of scientific names can backfire on the impression of your whole text. Just like the wrong Spell on the person holding the magical wand. 

Overall formatting

Certain parts of the thesis like ‘Discussion’ requires intuition. You don’t know when the idea will come into your mind. You always keep their laptop at hand’s distance even during sleep. Most of the people don’t check the font they are writing with at a certain paragraph. Either it’s the recommended one or not. Be careful to use the only single font in your whole document recommended by the Institution or the supervisor. Be careful about the following things as well,

  • Font size
  • Font color
  • Letter Spacing
  • Page Spacing
  • Page Numbers
  • Headings
  • Heading numbers and bullet style

Citation Style

University mostly provides the citation style for the thesis. Students mostly avoid harmonizing the citation style and just copy paste it from the source website. This is not a good practice. Any experienced researcher can always tell you if you have used the same citation style in the thesis or not.

It’s better to read the complete guide to any specific citation style you are going to use instead of relying on the citation software only. Basics of APA Style. 

Device and Software names

If you used any device such PCR Thermocycler, you should not only mention the name of the company but also the model number of the device. Such as Biosystems Thermocycler D348. Same rule goes for the software as well. You must mention the release version number in your thesis.

Later on, if someone reports any bug in the software or machine of that specific version/model, the reader can understand your reading better. This will also help if someone, at the junior level, replicating your experiment.

Chemicals and Other Solutions

While mentioning some chemical used in any experimentation, don’t forget to mention the concentration and volume used. Not only this, also adds the manufacturer or supplier of the chemical used. If you are using any kit, such as PCR, also mention the component you used in your experiment along with the kit.

“Student mention the name of the kit used, but not they used from the kit, usually it’s not the everything that comes with the kit.” said the professor. Don’t forget to mention the rpm/voltages etc. of any device used.

Use of Images

Graphic content is always more attractive than the textual. But while writing scientific content, you need to be very careful about the images you use. Don’t use stock images, experts don’t endorse it.

“I like to see the result of your gel electrophoresis, not the device of gel electrophoresis. I have seen it already” said the professor to a student. So be careful, only adds the photos that are needed. Don’t try to increase the pile of sheets in your thesis by adding more photos.

If it’s some diagram, flowchart and schematic representation of any process. Try to make it on your own instead of downloading from Google Images. Read, Draw Plasmids in PowerPoint

Explain Images and Diagrams

Writing two lines of the caption under the image is not enough. Make sure you discuss the image in the paragraph as well. This approach will also help you to use the necessary images only.

Be careful to add the image after discussing it in the earlier paragraph. It’s not a good approach that your image is on page two and you are discussing it on somewhere page 3-4.

Use of Abbreviations

Restrict the use of abbreviations to frequently used words in your text. Too many abbreviations in your text will make it a bit difficult to understand. Don’t forget to add an extra page of abbreviations in thesis file.

Abbreviating scientific names is a very annoying approach. Write M. charantia instead of MC while shortening Momordica charantia.

Don’t split tables and flowcharts

Tables and flowcharts are a nice way to present your data. Try to have them on a separate page. Do not split the tables and flowcharts into multiple pages.

If there is too much data which needs to be added to the table, be creative and categorize. Make sure that it must be on a single page separate page.

Similarly in case of Flowcharts, simply it. Don’t add the general things in the flowchart. generally, you can add more data in the circular flowchart.

Full Page Paragraphs

This is the among the poorest format errors any person can commit. Paragraphs must not be more than 4-5 lines.

If you want the readers to read the content, then make the short paragraphs and short sentences as well. It’s a number one rule for good readability of content.

Thesis Review Checklist

This is a quick checklist to review your thesis for mistakes before submitting it.

  • Read the guidelines provided by the Institution, again.
  • Check Font Size/Color/Style
  • Page margins and letter spacing
  • Image captions
  • Volumes/Concentration etc.
  • Front page: Your registration Number, Name of Department/Institution, Name of Supervisor and Title of your thesis.
  • Data of the tables and Flowchart
  • Either the Document is print-friendly or not
  • Scientific names

What embarrassing mistake you commit in your thesis? Share with us anonymously in comment section and others.

Bioentrepreneurship: Beginner’s Guide

Are you a life scientist but looking to start your own business?

Do you have any idea for your business?

Is it any molecule that you discover or modified that have some novel utility?

Or some kind process that is potentially marketable?

Have you ever asked these questions to yourself?

If yes, then congratulations. You are at the right spot and this guide on Bioentrepreneurship is for you exactly.

To make things easier, We have divided this guide into several sections.

Introduction to Bioentrepreneurship


Bioentrepreneurship is the integration of two different disciplines, science, and business. It is the flow of innovation from academia to industry. Unlike Entrepreneurship, Bioentrepreneurship is entirely academia-powered.

Or Simply, an entrepreneurial business based on the Biotechnology is known as Bioentrepreneurship. Biotech-based business is usually started a researcher so that’s why a Bioentrepreneur has more knowledge of its product than any other entrepreneur.

Bioentrepreneurship is the integrated activity that creates, develops and commercializes the biotechnology product.

Bioentrepreneur is not shadowed by the business risks but scientific risks are haunting him. The aim of Biotechnology-based business is to commercialize the research and deliver its potential benefit to the human race.

Significance of Bioentrepreneurship


Humans is using Biotechnology-based products since the dawn of civilization. Our today’s products are not less than miracles for our ancestors. The reality is that these products are based on their knowledge and our scientific research. Today, biotechnology-based products are the part of our daily life.

1. Potential of Heal, Feed, and Fuel

Biotechnology has enabled the creation of breakthrough products and technologies to combat disease, protect the environment, feed the hungry, produce fuels, and make other useful products.

Helping Save and Extend Lives

Biotechnology product developments are transforming the practice of medicine and providing new and better ways to detect, treat, and prevent disease. These products provide targeted treatments to minimize health risks and side-effects for individual patients. Biotechnology tools and techniques open new research avenues for discovering how healthy bodies work and what goes wrong when problems arise.

Helping to Feed the World

One of the challenges that biotech scientists and bioentrepreneurs are working to solve is how we address the needs of a growing world population. Today, there are more than 7 billion people living on our planet. However, by 2050, the global population is expected to reach 9 billion. That is much more mouths to feed. In fact, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (UN-FAO), we will have to double world food production to do it. With most of the world’s arable land already in production, we’ll need to make existing acreage much more productive. Biotechnology is helping us do so.

Biotech crops were used by more than 17.3 million farmers on more than 420 million acres of farmland in 28 countries.

The era of biotechnology-enhanced agriculture began in the 1990s with government approval for commercial deployment of biotech soybeans, corn, cotton, canola, and papaya. Because of their tremendous production advantages, biotech crops have become the most rapidly adopted technology in the history of agriculture and, in 2013, biotech crops were used by more than 17.3 million farmers on more than 420 million acres of farmland in 28 countries.

Better Ways to Protect Environment

Industrial biotechnology is one of the most promising new approaches to help meet the global challenges of preventing pollution, conserving energy and natural resources, and reducing manufacturing costs. The application of biotechnology to industrial processes is transforming how we produce existing products and helping to generate new products that were not even imagined a few years ago.Industrial Biotechnology - Bioentrepreneurship

Industrial biotechnology uses natural biological processes, such as fermentation and the harnessing of enzymes, yeasts, and microbes as microscopic manufacturing plants, to produce useful products.

Among the products being made with industrial biotechnology are biodegradable plastics, renewable chemicals, energy-saving low-temperature detergents, pollution-eating bacteria, multi vitamins, and biofuels.

 

With the growing adoption of industrial biotech, we are in the early stages of an emerging biobased economy that meets some of the most important needs of our global civilization

 

2. Second Largest Economy

Worldwide production of biobased products – including biofuels, renewable chemicals, and biobased polymers – is projected to grow from approximately $203.3 billion in 2015 to $400 billion by 2020 and $487 billion by 2024. The United States is well-positioned to capture a large share of that projected growth, due to investments made today in first-of-a-kind production capacity, innovative research, and development, as well as employment and training of U.S. workers.

Between 2010 and 2015, investors pumped nearly $9.2 billion into the industrial biotechnology sector

This funding came primarily in renewable chemicals and biobased polymers. The funding came from a variety of sources, including private equity and some public investment. But the majority of the investment and financing – $5.3 billion (57 percent) – came from venture capital. Venture capital investments primarily target research and development of new technologies, and synthetic biology start-ups have garnered the largest share in recent years.

Biobased economy - Bioentrepreneurship
Biobased economy and sector projections Courtesy: Bio Innovation Organization

 

Bioentrepreneurship Versus Entrepreneurship


There is many similarities between two of them such as a great idea to start with, funds to production, a skillful team and leader to overcome obstacles. But the differences are quite larger than the similarities. The challenges faced by a bioentrepreneur is usually not encountered by an entrepreneur such as long development periods, enormous fundings, strict regulatory and scientific uncertainty.

1. Incubation requires more time

If we look into the incubation and acceleration periods of IT-based start-ups than usually, it is less than a year. But if you are creating a drug or vaccine then it can take around 12 years to come into the market, if everything goes well. Bioentrepreneurial startups take more time to complete than others. The reason is quite simple, it is easier to create an Internet application than to develop a biological molecule with can be commercialized.

2. Requires more capital

Biotech-based companies require millions of dollars uninterruptible for decades. Research and development cost a fortune to funders so find a big investor is usually a difficult task. This is the why Biotech companies prefer to the joint venture and merger with bigger companies.

Eli Lilly acquired Pacific Biotech in 1990 and Origin Medsystems and Heart Rhythm Technologies, Incorporated in 1992. In the early 1990s, Lilly combined these medical equipment companies into a Medical Devices and Diagnostics Division that “contributed about 20 percent” of Lilly’s annual revenues.

The bioentrepreneur must have in their mind (and on paper) a good estimate of the total capital required to reach each value-enhancing milestone in order to remain attractive to subsequent investors. Funding gaps are not unusual for a development-stage company; however, it is incumbent upon the leader to be sure that these short-term and temporary funding gaps do not cause the demise of the company.

3. Strict Regulations

A product of Biotech-based company usually goes through several phases or trails and scrutiny of regulatory authorities before coming to the market. Even after that, the post-market analysis is conducted. In US, Food and Drug Administration (FDA), in Japan JFDA and in Kora KFDA are examples of some regulatory authorities. Since biotechnology products require numerous years of development, it would not be unusual to observe regulatory requirements modified or changed between the time your product development started and when your product is fully developed. Regulatory requirements differ for agricultural products, medical devices, laboratory tests, therapeutics, and biologics. List of Regulatory authorities by WHO.

Essential Bioentrepreneurial Characteristics


There are certain characteristics that must prevail in you if you want to be a Bioentrepreneur. These characteristics are something more than just the skills. 

1. Awareness of Unknown-Unknowns

Known-unknowns

A bioentrepreneur faces two type of problems, first are Known-Unknowns in which they know their limitations and seeks the help of experts. A bioentrepreneur is usually an expert in one field only, either its biology, chemistry or biotechnology. When ever there are some issues related to finance, accounting, compliance, production, transportation or marketing. He will hire some expert to resolve the problem.

The known-unknowns refer to having full recognition and awareness of limited information in an area that is critical to the company or future success, and you are also aware that you do not have enough knowledge to make rational decisions about how to proceed. There is safety in this awareness because entrepreneur leaders can then seek the advice of experts in these fields and proceed with caution.

Unknown-unknowns

Then there are the unknown-unknowns. This is when you do not possess knowledge about an area critical to the company, and you do not recognize your limitations, yet you proceed anyway. In other words, these are the things you do not know, that you do not know.

 Socrates - WisdomThe more I learn, the more I learn how little I know.”  – Socrates

One good way to avoid this pitfall is to always seek counsel and advice from experienced individuals in your field before embarking on what you are wanting to do. Often, because of the need to accomplish many things quickly, we move forward with a limited understanding of the issues, only to find out later there are unforeseen consequences. This can especially be true when planning and preparing for regulatory approvals and clearances for biotechnology and bio-agricultural products.

2. Understand the Language of Business and Science

Scientists are trained to be analytical. They are adept at questioning theories and suppositions. They are great researchers because they are trained to be skeptical of information they don’t understand until reproducible evidence is documented. Also, scientists naturally detect interpretation errors, and most scientists can quickly spot inconsistencies and problems within assumptions. These characteristics are ideal for making new discoveries, but they are ineffective communication tools when speaking to potential investors, business persons, and marketing people about your company’s purpose and mission.

Bioentrepreneur needs to understand the languages of Business and Science both. Usually, they are equipped with technical knowledge about their product or service but no interest in understanding and learning marketing, finance and legal compliance. In such condition, they fail to impress the investor. A good product but no with no market is useless for an investor. A scientist must be able to make investor understand the use of the product in common words.

Confusing jargons - Bioentrepreneurship Guide
Proficiency and skill are required in order to convey precise meaning so the listener understands what is communicated and not confused by the jargon.

3. Leadership Wisdom

Leadership is about motivating people to help you achieve your goals. Leadership depends on several aspects including the cause, followers, and goals. A leader needs to understand the factors that motivate the people. Usually, these factors include the needs and desires of the people.

Wisdom is knowing when to apply a particular piece of knowledge in a particular situation at a particular time.

We can train ourselves to increase our wisdom just as we can train ourselves to gain knowledge. Often learning to increase in wisdom has to do with closing our mouths more often and listening carefully in order to understand the communicated thoughts and ideas of others.

4. Resiliency

Failure is the most common thing that happens in an entrepreneurial setup. Every entrepreneur has to be resilient towards failures and hurdles. A strategic approach is very necessary to achieve the goals of the organization. A resilient bioentrepreneur always several alternates and chooses the best in a certain situation by research, experimentation, and experience.

Thomas Edison - Bioentrepreneur“I have not failed. I have just found ten thousand ways that won’t work.” – Thomas Edison

Resilience is the virtue that enables people to move through hardship and become better. No one escapes pain, fear, and suffering. Yet from pain can come wisdom, from fear can come courage, from suffering can come strength — if we have the virtue of resilience.

5. Core Values

Core values are the sum total of the guiding principles upon which we operate and make decisions. Sometimes these core values are clearly defined, and other times these guiding principles are simply understood. The entrepreneurs that have built successful companies have been guided by strong core values.

Core values carry a lot of weight, but unfortunately, often go overlooked after the first 30 days of employment. When embraced properly, core values become part of your day-to-day activities within your company’s walls and beyond. They are a compass for performance and the stories you tell when asked about your business. Make them matter.

6. Creativity

Bioentrepreneurship isn’t just about the technical knowledge and business mindset, a person needs to be creative and innovative. New ideas and concepts breed better companies. it is essential to the success of every biotechnology entrepreneur.

Bioentrepreneurship - Creativity and ImmagniationEiffel Tower was just a grand idea that existed in the mind of two engineers, Maurice Koechlin and Émile Nouguier, many years before the first steel girder was ever set in place. Even after the imagined structure was drawn on paper, Gustiv Eiffel and his two engineers encountered seemingly insurmountable challenges and were faced with many reasons to quit. There was great opposition to the building of the tower as criticism abounded, claiming it would cost too much, the design could not support its weight, and the land where it was to be erected was not solid. However, through creativity and imagination, the founding team was able to overcome all these obstacles, including the public opposition. As a result, the Eiffel Tower is appreciated and has become one of the most recognized structures in the world today. Never underestimate the value of creativity and imagination.

Never underestimate the value of creativity and imagination. Creative and imaginative entrepreneurs can accomplish great things when coupled with having leadership wisdom.

Closing Advice


Entrpreneurs have the vision to see the things which others can’t. Don’t just start a business to make your own company, try to help people by making better treatments available. As a society, this is where we should spend our best energy, use our best people, and focus our best efforts.

The ability to pioneer something, and go places that no one else has ever been, is unique. Almost anyone can do things that are predictable. Remember, most initiatives will fail, but if you have the courage to take things forward and can identify alternatives, you can make your ultimate goal successful. I wish each of you the very best of success in your endeavors!

60 days, 28 revisions and 145 cups of tea I required for this post. Don’t you think I deserve, Share, Feedback and Comment on this Post? 🙂 

10 Commandments for Academic Presentations

10 Presentations Tips for Academic Projects

Project presentation is not just about telling about what have you done or what are you going to do, it is about presenting your idea and you have to do present in the best way. Students being non-professional presenters make many mistakes while presenting their work so after a while audience retreat to their mobile phones. Before panicking about your project presentation or presenting a terrible one, keep following 10 Commandments for Academic Project Presentation in mind.

1. Timing is most important

Time is a very valuable thing because it is scarce. You have to be very careful about the time. Come at least 30 minutes earlier of your presentation. Be very careful about the time you take on each slide. It is a very good tactic to divide the time on the slides equally. Don’t take too much time on presentation only so you can spare some time for the question and answer session as well. Presentation Guru recommends 1 minute per slide but actually, it depends on the complexity of the idea you are presenting. So, all depends on you that how much time you need to present your idea efficiently without boring the audiences.

2. Double-check everything

The main purpose to come earlier is to check everything. The following checklist will be helpful for you,

  • Multimedia is working fine
  • Slides are aligned properly
  • Media in slides are appearing or not
  • Grammatical or Technical Errors in the slides
  • Proper title and Presenter details
  • Ratio of content in each slide
  • Time required for each slide

3. Use PowerPoint Efficiently

Any presentation software you are using either it is PowerPoint or something else, use it very efficiently. There are several best available templates for PowerPoint presentations, download them and use them. Following are the 5 mistakes that you make while designing your PowerPoint presentation

  1. Too much information on slides is not helpful so don’t vomit everything on them. If you are going to write down How to use powerpoint efficiently in academic project presentations.everything on the slides then please hand-over the slides and take the seat. There is a quite difference between a document and a presentation. If your audiences are reading word by word from the slide then what is the purpose of you being there. So, it is better to do some hard work and turn that data into something meaningful. Tip: Keep one main point per slide.
  2. Visuals make your presentation more attractive so it is better to add some interactive graphs and illustrations. Avoid using the graphics available in Microsoft Office suite and download some free stock-images. Adding flow charts in presentations enhances the presentation of your idea.
  3. Avoid using childish visuals, be professional and look for some better designs. Be careful in using the fonts, You can down beautiful fonts from Google, download them and try them in your presentation. If you think that you are not enough creative then spend some money and buy better templates for you.
  4. Proper alignment of the components in each slide is very important. Effective use of white spaces makes presentation very effective. Be careful while using different color schemes, you can get help about color schemes from colorlovers.com
  5. Design, Don’t just slap things together. 1 hour of presentation requires 30 hours of preparation, this is what the experts say. So, spend some time in designing your presentations if you really want effective results.

4. Be Formal

Academic talks need to be very formal. Avoid the use of any kind of slang or humor that doesn’t sound cool in front of teachers. Your dressing also needs to be formal, if there is any specific uniform of the institution then go for it otherwise go for a suit. Your dress must be slightly better than your audience. Avoid checking shirts and ties with designer logos or other illustrations. View this presentation on the dress code of men and women during the presentation.

5. Maintain a Pace

The poor pace is one of biggest blunders made by the newbie speakers. Pace can make or break your presentation. Most of the newbie presenters speak too much quickly which is the natural effect of fear and nervousness. Gurus say that fast pace causes your audience to understand 10% of your words. So, you have to control your Adrenalin. Only speed is not the issue, the constant pace is also not recommended, this makes you appear as a robot in front of your audiences. Following tips can be helpful in that,

  • Look people in the when speaking
  • Breathe more often
  • Pause between phrases

6. Practice Practice Practice

Yes, you have to do this a lot of times. Marvelous proposal and nice slides can’t save you if you present poorly. You have to repeat each and every word you are going to speak as rehearsal. Looking slides just 1 hour before presentation will end you up as a fool in front of your audiences. I wrote the word practice 3 times because you have to do this in three different ways,

  1. Present in front of Mirror
  2. Invite few volunteers and deliver your presentation to them
  3. Record your presentation and watch it by yourself

7. Avoid slide-reading

It’s the deadliest sin which most of the presenters commit. If your presentation is only about reading the slides then why you even bother to come to the podium, the audiences can read it by themselves. Your slides must contain the keywords or key points of your presentation. The presentation is a kind of formal talk with your audience. Not looking towards someone while talking to them is not a good manner.

8. Don’t be a Robot

Sticking to a place and just keep on speaking will make your presentation boring and unabsorbable for your audiences. Use your hands and head movements to give gestures to the listeners and change your position as well on the available space. It is not recommended to walk in the audiences if it is an academic talk. But if you are a speaker or trainer then it is a highly effective strategy to gain the attention of attendees.

9. Audience Analysis

This is the must-do thing in every kind of talk or presentation. Understanding the expectation of your Audience always helps to deliver a better talk. In delivery an academic talk, surely the experts are sitting in front of you but it’s better to understand that they are expert in what field. Some of the main audience analysis factors are following,

  • Audience Expectations – Everytime audience comes with some expectations and if you violate those expectations, the audience will be offended. Let’s say a politician is planned is deliver a talk to the villagers, they are expecting to hear some news about electricity and roads in the village but the politician starts talking about the legislative matters of the parliament house. He will not only the attention of the villagers but the credibility also.
  • Knowledge of Topic – Don’t ever underestimate the knowledge of your audiences when delivering a presentation on your research proposal. For example, your research topic is something in Genetic engineering and you are explaining them about what DNA is then definitely you will look a fool.
  • Attitude towards Topic – It is necessary to know the attitude of the audience about the topic. It can be possible that the audience are quite interested in your research proposal but they worried about some ethnic and religious issues. So, it would be better to address those issues with more detail in your work.

10. Deliver an Effective Talk

This point is missed by around 98% of the people. Giving a presentation is about telling the about your idea. Keep in mind, there is a motivation in every talk, Academic presentation doesn’t have to be a boring one always. Keep the following points in mind,

  • Fluctuate the tone of voice and convey feelings.
  • Relative descriptive details when necessary.
  • Show sense of humor but not all talks require jokes.

To enhance the delivery of your talk, show enthusiasm, make eye contact, and smile.

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