Writing Research


Hello, today we
re going to talk about Writing Research. One of the things that is very important to remember
when you re moving from high school to college is that a lot of times what was considered
writing research before is now … it s becoming something else. So we re going to go over
that, talk about what it is, talk about what it isn t and hopefully get you started writing
your first research paper. So first of all, what it is not. Generally, when students begin
the research process, especially for the first time coming out of high school, they start
with something that s really a lot closer to a summary or a book report and as you can
see here that summarizing is the last thing you want to do when you re writing research.
You don t want to restate any information that you found in other sources. You don t
want to continuously restate things that have been said by somebody else over and over and
over. And you don t necessarily want to just inform a reader about what other people have
to say on your topic. So the point of research is that it is actually a process. It requires,
of course, research but also critical thinking and some kind of a valuation. You re going
to want to organize what you find and start preparing it into a specific composition.
You want to make sure that you re not just taking this information but that you re evaluating
it and you re interpreting it and that really what your doing is your drawing from others
and your making your own …you re coming to your own conclusions about the information.
So what we re going to talk about today specifically is the different types of research, how to
begin your research project and, of course, writing a thesis and finally just a little
bit on forming a conclusion. And I m going to use my friend Sherlock here to help me
make some of the finer points. So what are the different types of research? Generally
speaking the types of research are going to fall into one of two categories. It s either
going to be an argument or you re going to have an analysis. So an argument is generally
what students are most familiar with, especially coming right the gate. It takes a stance on
some issue and it needs to have a clear pro and con side. I often tell students that s
something like – children should eat less candy – that s not going to be a great argument
because it s going to be hard to find reasonable people who disagree with that statement. Maybe
there s a few somewhere but generally speaking it s hard to find somebody that agrees. So
you re going to want to choose an argument that has some and you re going to want to
show your reasoning for choosing that particular side. So you re going to want to be clear
as to why you decide to pick whichever side you choose on an argument and if offers valid
support for why your pro or why your con. And in analysis which can take the form of
it can be a literary review; it can be sort of a report on an experiment that you ve done.
It begins with some sort of question and the reader takes no stance on what the answer
is. So you want to consider it an exercise in exploration. You just kind of want to start
out by posing a hypothesis and then you re using sort of a scientific method to come
to a certain conclusion. So in an argument, specifically, your introduction needs to clearly
say which side of a topic you re on. Like I said before, you want to show in that introduction
how you arrived at your thesis, why you believe the way you do and you must be able to identify
what the other side is. So even in that introduction you just want to touch on not only why you
chose what you chose, what you actually think but you also want to acknowledge what the
other side is saying briefly. And, of course, the purpose of an argument is, at the end
of the day, to persuade. So a closer look at an analysis like I said it does pose a
question and use the research to come to some sort of conclusion. It explains, analyzes,
interprets or evaluates or reflects upon some sort of some source of information some bit
of information. Like I said it can be equated to the scientific method. I like to think
of it as first my thesis, maybe the hypothesis and then I just sort of systematically go
through what s available and hopefully take my readers along for the ride, so we come
to the conclusion together. There is a little bit of persuasion going on here but nothing
like you see in an argument. So let s look at them side to side. So if we re looking
at them we want to know what the differences are since they do seem kind of similar up
front. So, like I said, both do require some form of persuasive writing; the difference
is really in the style. Arguments, you really want to assume that members of your audience
don t agree with you and not only do they not agree but sometimes they hostilely disagree.
So for that purpose you have to make sure that you re acknowledging what their disagreement
is and you re refuting it. Now to refute means to show that some information is wrong and
not just say you re wrong. In an analysis you can assume that your members are skeptical,
maybe you re coming to some conclusion that is not widely accepted right now. So they
may sort of have a little bit of reservations about jumping onboard with you. So, of course,
you want to persuade them but in this case, you know, everybody can sort of keep their
fists down because we don t need any of that same kind of fighting. You don t need to recognize
the other side in the same way you do in an argument, you don t need to refute anything.
So there s different parts of research; one of the biggest differences between high school
and college research writing is that in college writing you really want to get involved in
the process. So, of course, the first step is going to be to gather your information.
Now I always tell students that the best way to do this is to make sure that you have enough
information to speak broadly on your topic for five minutes without repeating yourself.
And I also say it s best to do that aloud because then you know what you ve said and
what you haven t said. Of course, when you create a working thesis that s going to be
your next point cause you want something to guide the rest of your writing in the rest
of your research. It s a working thesis because you can t exactly know, especially in an analysis,
exactly what conclusion to draw because you haven t gone through all of the information
yet. It s important to know that the thesis is a process, just like the actual research
itself, and it can change as new evidence becomes available. Second of all, you want
to actually do the research you actually want to make sure that you re getting in there
you re evaluating your sources and any bit of information that you re finding you want
to be sure that you re asking the question of is this a valid authority, is this someone
that can be trusted what is their background and do they have any biases. Then you want
to move into your outline. The outline process we re going to talk a little bit about but
it just really gives you re writing some kind of it gives you just a map of where you want
to go. And then finally you re going to write and then proofread and edit. Okay, next we
are going to talk about the thesis statement. So a lot of student s don t understand why
exactly the thesis statement is so important. Well it asserts your point and it provides
structure. When you begin the research process a lot of times you re just bombarded with
a ton of information and it s hard to decide what s relevant and what isn t. So, with a
thesis statement you can really start to decide what parts you need to pick and choose from
and what parts are just not something that you want to spend time on right now. So it
also helps control the paper. Even in the paper you might have different points that
seem relevant and seem sort of have something to do with your topic but if it doesn t speak
directly to the thesis then you re going to need to find a way to get that out of there.
Also, a thesis is a guide for what s coming. I tend to think of my thesis as sort of a
verbal agreement that I ve coming to with my readers. So it s very important to try
to keep that agreement so they can know what to expect as you move forward. So for an argument,
the thesis statement needs to be a should and you want to have make sure that you have
two coherent sides. I know I ve said that before but that is something that really tends
to throw students off the path. So the example here is that modern Sherlock movie franchise
should be discontinued because it undermines the power of the intellect and sells violence
as the only way to solve conflicts. So obviously somebody can disagree with me. There may be
people out there right now that absolutely love this Sherlock franchise. So I would have
to go in and pick out reasons why I don t like it and they d have to make sense and
be something that goes further than just my own taste preferences. So then we move into
an analytical which – in this case you re going to want to have conclusions about a
topic that is supported in your work. Again, it s not necessary in this case to pick a
side. So you can see my example is Sherlock Holmes remains a prominent figure in pop culture
because he personifies this scientific spirit, which is just beginning to blossom in the
early nineteen hundred s and continues to move society forward today. So that thesis
statement, with that strong thesis statement, we can see that if I were just to talk about
Sherlock Holmes I wouldn t satisfy everything that my thesis is supposed to. If I just talked
about life in the nineteen hundreds, again, I wouldn t really be getting to the bottom
line of what the thesis is asserting. And, of course, I could talk about the scientific
spirit but again we d be in that same problem. Now, in this case, I will need a touch on
all those things to bring context to my thesis. But just to summarize what all that stuff
is or give some historical background that s not going to be what we re looking for.
So just one last thing, again, when you re writing a thesis you really want to consider
it a working thesis; it may change a little bit, it may change a lot throughout the course
of your research. One thing that you cannot do is you cannot have just a thesis statement
and then have a paragraph that doesn t matter to the thesis statement, it s completely irrelevant
or it goes against what your thesis is. At that point you d have to either get that out
of there, get that paragraph out of there or you have to change your thesis. What you
can t do is have it both ways. As Sherlock says here, Never theorize before you have
data. Invariably, you end up twisting facts to suit theories instead of theories to suit
facts. So just be on the lookout for that. Now we re going to get into the different
types of research. So I think a lot of us are familiar with using academic journals.
Well, that s only one sort, you can also go for reputable newspapers that you can even
get hard copies of in a library or, one of my favorites are, just good old fashioned
books. You can go and get any of this on the internet but I always warn people you want
to be careful because the internet isn t specifically published, so anyone can put anything on there.
So that s one of the big reasons why I like books because they go through the specific
process of fact checking and publishing and, you know, other people in the field have to
accept it. There s just a lot more that a book needs to go through before we see the
final product. So if you want to use online sources just be aware and understand how to
evaluate them and, of course, no Wikipedia. So there s different types of resources just
like there s different types of papers, you have the primary and you have secondary. Primary
is something that comes from – the person has found that out themselves. You want to
think of an experiment report where an experiment was conducted and now I m writing about what
happened in the course of my experiment. Of course, statistics, which is just any number
of any group of things. Now when you do when you look for statistics it s important to
understand where the statistics come from and understand how the statistics are being
used. In this case you really want to think of any just raw plain data. Then, of course,
the secondary like news articles and journal reviews. In this case they re interpreting
data. Also, if I can I always try to go for primary as much as possible just because you
re free of bias and you re free of just all kinds of different things that you can fall
into in the research process. So moving on when you re doing research you always want
to keep track of your sources. Some students like to have note cards that contain all of
their sources. I prefer a legal pad where I ll just write down the information I intend
to use and then I ll put the page number and the last name and the book that it comes out
of right there, so that at the last minute when I m looking for it it s just right there
for me. And then you want to be prepared to cite properly. Now that s easy when you keep
track of your sources and that s really why you want to keep track of them but make sure
that you know whether you re writing a MLA or APA and cite accordingly. Also, very important
is you want to be sure that you understand every word or idea that you borrow. It s actually
pretty easy to tell when you don t quite know what you re talking about and credibility
is so important when you re writing research, so you just really want to make sure that
you have that under control. And only use direct quotes when necessary. I say something
like, you know, we don t need I don t need an authority to tell me that the sky is blue,
it s something that we all know. You really only want to use an authority when it s something
that they say best or when it s some difficult idea that it s just it doesn t mean anything
if I m saying this to you. And you want to understand between reading and skimming. If
you re writing an eight page research paper then it probably isn t necessary for you to
read four or five books completely through. But if you re writing a doctorate or a book
or something like that you better be prepared to read front to back. So, finally, we re
going to talk a little bit about creating an outline. A lot of students come and they
don t really want to write the outline and it just seems like extra work. But the truth
is if you create the outline everything else is very, very easy. So why bother? You can
see here that it creates a map between the introduction and conclusion. It s like if
I left my house today and I just decided I was going to go to Traverse City, well I could
drive around and, you know, I might get there eventually but when you re writing research
we want you to take the most direct route. So this is why we use the map. It provides
control, it s easy to navigate all of your reasons I really like this because it s just
a very user friendly way to tell what research is necessary and what research is unnecessary;
what I can put in, what I can get out. Also, I can visually see if I provided enough support,
that everything is well balanced and, of course, the organization, which I touched on a little
bit. But like I said does this go better here, does this go better there you can kind of
see how you want your paper to progress. So when you re creating an outline the first
thing you want to do is you just want to be aware of how it s set up. This is the basic
template for an outline and you can actually find that on Word or online or anywhere or
you can just create your own. So where the title is here I couldn t find a perfect one
you can either do the title, you can just write the title of your paper so I m just
going to write Research Paper. Okay and then you move down to where it says Introduction
I want you to think thesis. This is where the thesis goes. And you can actually just
go ahead and just write your thesis out completely, whatever it is, just write it out there. If
you have a couple of supporting details then you can write it here and here; at this point
you don t necessarily need the A and the B. Now that we re into the body this is what
you want to think of as Evidence 1 needs to go here and then here we have maybe a quote,
maybe a citation, maybe we have some information just one of those forms of research are going
to go in here. And you can have one through four, you can have one through three; probably
in this case you don t want one through ten, okay, that might be just hitting the hammer
too hitting the nail too hard that s how it goes. But, okay, so here you re going to have
Evidence 2, again the same thing, you know, you just take as much as you want just like
you don t want eight you also don t want just one point here or two, you want it to be a
little bit more involved than that. Finally, you re going to have Evidence 3. So you re
going to have all your points here, all your supporting details here. This would probably
grow, this is like I said a very basic template so you might have a D down here and it, you
know, the same kind of structure. And remember if it s an argument you re going to need to
refute somewhere, so maybe D s is where you refute. And then finally you re just going
to have your conclusion. So this is the main point that you want to conclude to and you
re just going to sort of write a sentence or two, right here. And then you re going
to have some of the other things that you want to put a conclusion down here. We re
going to talk more about what exactly goes into a conclusion, coming up next. So finally,
we get to the conclusion. The first thing I like to tell people about conclusions is
you really want to be aware of midnight madness or like I like to call it, the midnight special.
And what that is is when you just put something on cause you re just ready to be done. So
here, you can see, resist that urge, don t do it, you worked so hard you can make it
just a little bit further. So, also remember that the end of the paper is just not the
time to introduce new information, no new facts none of that because you can t develop
them so leave it at that. And you want to maintain your credibility and stay off the
soap box. Lot of people like to say something like, If you do it this way then maybe you
just don t just love children , of course, we don t want to make anybody think that they
don t love children. All right, so here we go so the conclusion sometimes what I do the
most basic way to do a conclusion if your just completely clueless and you just need
something to move you just a little bit further I like to pretend that my thesis is an essay
question and that my conclusion is just a short answer. So I m kind of summing up my
own information. If the assignment is an argument maybe at this point you want to have a call
to action or an alternative to what you re arguing for or against, specifically if you
re arguing against. If it s an analytical then a summary of your findings may be well
placed in this position. And also if your research changed your mind about something
then it may be a good place to reflect but be careful because still in research we don
t want any I/me/you always keep it in third person. So that may be something that you
really want a Writing Fellow to double check if you decide to reflect. So just a few last
minute tips. You want to be aware of the format that you re writing in. Most research takes
place with APA format but your teacher may instruct you to use MLA, so just be sure to
be using what they tell you. Also, you want to be sure that you re maintaining the third
person point of view. That means you want to avoid saying I or you or anything like
that. Finally, you want to make sure that you re avoiding all contractions just because
it s considered informal language and at this point you just want to maintain your authority
by staying with the formality, by keeping with the formality. And then, of course, just
once again make sure that you re keeping track of all your sources and make sure that you
re citing in the proper way. So that s all I have for you. I hope it helps and good luck
writing those research papers.

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