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Wednesday, 18 July 2007


After four years in the working world, we weren’t quite sure it would be like to return to the academic world. Studying for a graduate degree was an exciting prospect, but at the same time, we were intimidated! The last time we had written a paper of any academic worth was for our respective theses. We were worried that we couldn’t remember how to format a footnote. Could we do grad school without our own computer? What was an interlibrary loan? What’s Lexis-Nexis?

After the initial panic, Titchie remembered that her academic writing questions could be solved by having a copy of the MLA handbook (your department might prefer a different stylebook though so it’s better to check with them first). The computer problem was solved by becoming familiar with the schedules and locations of the computer labs all around the NYU campus. The interlibrary loan? Most schools belong to a consortium. An inter-library loan allows access and borrowing privileges to the collections of all libraries in the consortium, which gives greater access to more books and journals.

This chapter will not tell you how to study. We dearly hope you already know how that works. What we hope to help you with comes in the form of giving you some idea as to what to expect in terms of facilities and the academic environment in your school. It will also include tips on time management and directions for scholarly research.

Many of the graduate students we interviewed enthused about professors who were readily available for consultations, of ready access to the Internet and school computers, of a well-stocked and updated library that had no limit to the amount of books you can borrow. These can be exhilarating and overwhelming. Information overload can become a problem. Although learning our way around was fun, Titchie sometimes found herself researching a paper and getting sidetracked by other interesting sources. We hope these tips help. Good luck!

1. Digital or pulp planner
An average graduate program consists of 40 credits spread over two years; some students can do it in a year and a half including summer sessions. This means you take three to four classes per semester. That’s usually a three to four hour class. That doesn’t sound too bad, does it? Undergraduates don’t have it any easier. They have more classes (but with less readings), and more extracurricular activities (joining organizations, dorm parties and part-time jobs).

Class requirements usually include a lengthy reading list, several papers, group papers, and exams. A normal week of a grad student means finding the readings (most professors leave readings in the reserve section of the library and you have to photocopy it), getting the books (usually a one-time affair at the beginning of the semester), researching for papers, tackling the required reading, and meeting with group mates.

Other classes have even more erratic schedules. Arthur Manalac of Sydney University, had a class which met once a week at first, then fortnightly, then once a month. They were expected to do their projects and read in-between meetings. He said “It was harder because you didn’t have regular classes. Mahirap kasi you had your own time. You ask yourself, “Am I studying enough? Am I slacking too much?”

While school work will take up majority of your time (as it should), throw in errands to run (laundry, grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning, etc.), a part-time job, exploring the city, and you’ll find your 24-hour day crammed, not enough and you exhausted.

Time management becomes an absolute necessity with all the things you have (and might want) to do. At the very least, have a calendar where you can mark deadlines and exams. Use pencil and paper, an electronic organizer, or your computer to remind you of important dates.

2. Computer with internet access
If you have the funds to buy a computer, go ahead. A laptop occupies less space and is very portable, so you can bring it along for group meetings and while doing research in the library. However, for the same amount, you can get a PC with more memory, speed and accessories. Still, if all you’ll be using will be a word processor, spreadsheet, PowerPoint, and an internet browser, you won’t be needing all that memory, would you?

When buying computers in the US know that they do not come bundled with programs for free (like the practice in Manila), and you may need to buy the programs individually. A computer with wireless access is also a plus. A fax-modem is particularly useful if you want to send and receive faxes directly into your computer. This comes in handy when job-hunting and you need to fax your resume. This feature eliminates the need for a fax machine. As most schools provide software for students who want to access the school’s computer system from home, there’ll be no need to pay for an internet provider.

Most students print their work at school. The computer lab usually has the best equipment (fast modems, big monitors, most recent software), and use laser printers. At NYU, they have printing stations for students who only need to print their work. However, at Georgetown, they charge students for printing. Check with your school’s policy for computer use and printing.

There is a cheaper alternative: you can work in school. If you don’t want to purchase a computer, most schools have well-equipped computer labs for students. In a university, there might be several types of computer labs–one for general use (for undergrads and grad students), another exclusively for graduate students. Some colleges within the university have their own lab like the business school. The hours will vary and sometimes the computers might have different software from the one you’re used to. Again, check your school’s facilities which is most likely listed online.

3. Library
Say goodbye to card catalogs and welcome their computerized version. Aside from books, there are journals, CDs, films, and electronic databases (full-text databases like Lexis-Nexis, Proquest are described below) to choose from. Most libraries have library tours or introductory workshops on how to take advantage of its resources. Some libraries have an online guide on how to use their resources. The tour might seem elementary to most but it’s also helpful to know where everything is from the beginning rather than when you’re cramming for a paper.

Aside from the main library, there will be specialized libraries in your university. Most likely, the colleges of law and medicine have their own libraries. Inter-library loans are also a popular feature as most schools share libraries for students to have access to a greater pool of information.

Most library catalogs are available online so you can conduct preliminary research at home and at the computer lab.

Also find out if there are “specialty libraries” in your city. New York has a business library. DC/Maryland/Virginia residents have the Library of Congress and the National Archives. If you’re doing research on Philippine history both of these places are marvelous resources for research.

If you want to take a break from all that studying, you can go to the multi-media center where they lend CDs and films for free. Another item your library might lend out are laptops, so it’s easier to write your paper.

Titchie also missed the copy vendors in the Philippines. You hand over a book and they do the rest. The copy machines at the NYU library were not state of the art, and are sometimes not that user-friendly. Many copy machines in your new university need a copy card and you have to do the photocopying yourself. If you plan to photocopy a whole book at a copy shop (like Kinko’s), they might refuse due to strictly enforced copyright laws. But this is not impossible if you do the photocopying yourself.

Sidebar: Indispensable Databases

Periodical Abstracts (Proquest General Reference)
It provides a powerful, convenient search and retrieval to one of the world's largest collections of information, including summaries of articles from over 8000 publications. It covers general and academic periodicals; full-text is available for many articles from 1985 onwards. Database covers US and international periodicals and selected US newspapers. Indices and abstracts have over 2200 titles, with selective coverage back to 1971 with more complete coverage from 1986 onwards. For example, a search for Cory Aquino from 1986-1998 turned up articles from the New York Times magazine, Economist, World Press Review, The American Spectator, The Nation, Newsweek, Christianity and Crisis, and The Village Voice.

JSTOR (Journal Storage)
An archival collection of full-text scholarly journals.
JSTOR is unique because the complete back files of core scholarly journals have been digitized, starting with the very first issues, many of which reach back to the 1800s. Due to an agreement with publishers current issues are not available. Again, a search for Cory Aquino brought up eight results from Asian Survey, Anthropology Today, Journal of Politics, and The French Review.

LEXIS-NEXIS Academic Universe
Up-to-date business and legal information is the strength of the Lexis-Nexis Academic Universe service. It allows you to search for periodicals, public records, and legal documents, often within 24 hours of its publication, and in some cases may go back to 20 years.

"Scholarly" and refereed journals are generally not available on Lexis-Nexis Academic Universe, with the exception of law reviews, which are often refereed, and often contain analytical and in-depth information. The Cory Aquino search was limited to articles from the past six years which yielded 439 results. Some of the publications include the Vancouver Sun, Toronto Star, Business World, The New York Times, BBC News Transcripts, CNBC News Transcripts, The Mirror, The Times (London), Belfast Newsletter, Associated Press, and PR Newswire.

Elsevier Electronic Subscriptions
Elsevier Science recently introduced a new electronic publishing program: the Elsevier Electronic Subscriptions (EES). The EES is designed to bring researchers electronic access to all of Elsevier’s scientific and technical journals. This enables you to build and maintain searchable electronic journals across the local network and to integrate these journals, as well as other local and remote information resources, into a single system accessible from the desktop using a World Wide Web browser. One added feature is the citation search: this allows you to track down all articles published in any of the Elsevier journals that cite a particular paper. For those interested in the literature that came after a seminal paper, this is a powerful search tool, comparable to the Social Science Citation Index (another database). Since this is a scientific search tool we opted to search for the Philippines and came up with the following results: East Asian Higher Education: Traditions and Transformations (textbook), Deep Ocean Circulation (book), From Magma to Tephra (book), Cretaceous Environments of Asia (book).

Google Scholar
Similar to a Google search, Google Scholar (still in beta version) searches scholarly literature such as peer-reviewed papers, theses, books, abstracts and articles, from academic publishers, professional societies, preprint repositories, universities and other scholarly organizations. A search for Cory Aquino resulted in 264 hits.

4. Your own library
The following books will be helpful to have on your shelves. There’s no need to purchase the most expensive versions of these books. You can get cheap copies in secondhand stores or they can sell at really low prices when on sale.
· Dictionary
· Thesaurus
· Elements of Style by Strunk and White
· MLA handbook/ALA handbook (whatever format your school uses)
· Filipino-English Dictionary and vice-versa/or a dictionary using the language of the country you’re staying

5. Material for Papers, Projects, Thesis, etc.
You haven’t started your program yet but it would be a good idea to think of a thesis topic. Some of your materials might only be available in the Philippines. If you can’t bring the actual book, bring photocopies; if you have a scanner, scan the documents. If you prefer, e-mail existing copies of relevant papers to your e-mail account (you can do this with web-based emails such as gmail, hotmail, yahoo, etc.) so you don’t have to carry it at all. Just make sure you don’t exceed the storage limit or your e-mail provider will start deleting your files. Yahoo has a useful storage system that accommodates 30 MB of storage—go to Yahoo! Briefcase( Google also has a similar program called Google Docs ( Or if you have the money, get a flash drive.

Arvin Concepcion who took multimedia production classes at NYU says, “If you’re doing a solo project (like a multimedia program or website) do something related to your culture! Some teachers like this so much and they give you extra points for it. Just don’t overdo it (like going overboard with super patriotic slogans and anti-American themes) – you’ll look like a jerk.”

Here’s a list of useful sites for research, even if you simply want to get in touch with the Filipino in you. We havent updated this list in a while so if there are any dead links, let us know. And if there are any sites you want to include in this list we would appreciate it if you share it with us...
Media and Search Engines
ABS-CBN News (Affiliated with Today)
Asian Journal (US)

Bayani Magazine

Business World
Center for Media and Responsibility

Filipino Express (Fil-Am Newspaper)
Filipino Reporter (Fil-Am Newspaper)
Manila Times
Pinoy Central
Planet Philippines
Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism

Philippine Daily Inquirer (affiliated with GMA and has a link to Newsbreak)
Philippine Headline News (Canada)
Philippine News (US)

The Manila Bulletin
The Philippine Star

Asian Institute of Management
Assumption College
Ateneo de Manila University
De La Salle University
Filipinas Heritage Library
Miriam College
Philippine Military Academy
Siliman University
St. Scholastica’s College
University of Asia and the Pacific
University of San Jose - Recoletos
University of the Philippines - Diliman
University to Santo Tomas
UP Library

Museums and Libraries
Lopez Museum
Ayala Museum
Museum of Natural History UP Los Baños
Filipinas Heritage Library
National Museum of the Philippines
Museo Pambata

Official Website of the Republic of the Philippines
Department of Science and Technology
Department of Trade and Industry
Department of Foreign Affairs
Department of Social Work and Development
Department of Labor and Employment
Department of Natural Resources
Department of Budget and Management
Department of Agriculture
Department of Agrarian Reform
Department of Tourism
Department of Justice
Supreme Court of the Philippines

House of Representatives
Central Bank
National Economic and Development Authority
Department of Education
Philippine Information Agency
Official Website on Philippine Culture and Information

Resources/Organizations A Philippine-based website offering free legal advice online and vast links to Philippine law information
Philippine Institute for Development Studies
International Institute of Rural Reconstruction
Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Development – University of the Philippines
Social Weather Station
US Library of Congress Country Study
International Rice Research Institute
European Union in the Philippines.
National Commission for Culture and Arts

Philippine TV Stations Sites
GMA Network
Sky Media

Bamboo Girl
Filipinas Magazine
Her World (a subsidiary of Business World Publishing)

Discussion Groups
Female Network
New Filipina
Pinoy Exchange

Book Stores
National Book Store
Ateneo de Manila University Press
Bookhaus Publishers - Independent publisher founded by former journalist Veltisezar Bautista. No Bisaya books but The Filipino Americans: Their History, Culture and Traditions is worth reading by any one interested in the subject of Filipino-American history.
De La Salle University Press
Goodwill Bookstore
Kaya Press – publisher of Asian / diaspora literature and culture
Philippine American Literary House (PALH) – Philippine fiction and children’s books
Power Books
Tatak Pilipino!
University of the Philippines Press
Xeres Books specializes in rare and hard to find books or those which are academic in nature

Miscellaneous Shops
Cultural Center of the Philippines
Ethnic Grocer
Kabayan Central
Made in the Philippines
My Ayala
My Barong
Ramar Foods

Government Offices/Banks
Bank of the Philippine Islands
Bureau of Internal Revenue
Development Bank of the Philippines
Equitable PCI Bank
Keppel Bank Philippines
Metro Bank
Philippine National Bank New York
Philippine National Bank
Standard Chartered Bank Philippines
Union Bank
United Overseas Bank Philippines

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