Call to write third edition
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Call to Write , Third edition. Chapter Twelve, The Research Process: Critical Essays and Research Papers. Chapter overview. Looks at two of the most common writing assignments: critical essays and research projects Examines the genres Overviews the research process

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Call to write third edition

Call to Write, Third edition

Chapter Twelve, The Research Process: Critical Essays and Research Papers

Chapter overview

Chapter overview

  • Looks at two of the most common writing assignments: critical essays and research projects

  • Examines the genres

  • Overviews the research process

  • Follows one student as she does a project for her history class

Critical essays

Critical essays

  • Critical essays are generally short papers, ranging from 3 to 7 pages, focusing on a question or issue.

  • Student must use sources to “make sense of how authorities in a field define key issues and present interpretations” (430).

Research projects

Research projects

  • Research projects are bigger undertakings than critical essays.

  • The page length for research projects tends to range from eight to 20 pages or more; students use more sources and will probably spend more time on the project.

What are faculty looking for

What are faculty looking for?

Whether writing a critical essay or research project, faculty expect you to do the following things:

  • To work with your sources

  • To create your own research space

  • To identify the central discussion, debate, and controversies

Sample critical essay mla

Sample critical essay, MLA

  • Pages 432-435, “The Dilemma of Empire”

  • Context: written for a course in international relations

  • Assignment: analyze a set of readings and explain key differences

  • The text looks at her essay and analyzes how she handled the assignment.

Two strategies

Two strategies

  • First, she establishes the context of issues to be discussed in the first three paragraphs.

  • Second, she introduces two key terms starting in paragraph four. She then explains the purpose of her essay and explains how those terms will be used.

Sample research project mla

Sample research project, MLA

  • Chapter next presents a research project, also done in MLA style. This paper (pages 437-442) was written for a first-year writing course.

  • Notice that it begins with a quotation, uses headers for the various sections of the paper, and use MLA style for in-text citations; a Works Cited page can be found at the end.

Analysis of sample research paper

Analysis of sample research paper

  • An analysis follows that examines his strategies in the paper.

  • It extends past research by applying it to new cases.

  • It identifies a gap in the existing research

Checklist mla and apa style

Checklist – MLA and APA style

  • See the shaded box, page 443.

    It points out four features common to MLA and APA.

  • Double-space manuscript

  • Use a one-inch margin all around

  • Indent paragraphs five spaces

  • Number pages consecutively, including Works Cited or References pages

Checklist mla style

Checklist – MLA style

  • Unless instructed, don’t include a separate title page; see page 443 for more details on how to format the paper.

  • Insert page numbers in upper right corner.

  • Begin bibliography (Works Cited) on a separate page.

Checklist apa style

Checklist — APA style

  • Unless instructed, use a cover page. See page 443 for specific details on formatting the cover page.

  • Include an abstract on the next page; this is a brief summary of no more than 120 words.

  • Begin the text on the third page.

  • Use headers for the various sections.

  • Begin references section on a separate page.

Sample research paper apa style

Sample research paper, APA style

  • See pages 444-450 for the sample essay.

  • Notice that the paper begins with an abstract, a one-paragraph summary of the paper.

  • The essay uses headers and APA in-text citations, and ends with the References section.

Analysis of the sample apa essay

Analysis of the sample APA essay

  • An analysis follows, pages 450-451.

  • Early on she identifies the central issues of her paper by discussing a controversial book.

  • In doing so, she establishes a sense of credibility, creates a space for her research project, and sets up a framework to organize her paper and use her sources.

Overview of the research process

Overview of the research process

Pages 451-452 begin with four tasks:

  • Getting started

  • Finding sources

  • Reading and analyzing sources

  • Planning and drafting

Analyzing the assignment

Analyzing the assignment

The text presents the instructions for the assignment on page 452. Researchers position themselves five ways:

  • To provide an overview of the current thinking of experts

  • To review the arguments in a controversy

  • To pose and answer an important question or solve a problem

  • To position your own interpretation in relation to what others have said

  • To take a stand on a controversy

Doing preliminary research

Doing preliminary research

  • The author suggests five places to start doing research: the Web, encyclopedias, recent books, recent articles, and people (classmates, librarians, teaching assistants, and faculty members).

  • She gives her first reactions to the assignment and then after doing some research, her reflections on what she’s learned so far.

  • She presents guidelines to develop a research question.

Other key tasks

Other key tasks

  • Evaluating a research question, pages 455-456.

  • See the list of four questions; each is followed by an explanation of its significance.

  • Writing a research proposal, pages 456-457.

  • Defines purpose of research and research plan.

  • Does three things: identifies the topic or problem, presents a specific issue and question, and gives the research plan for how the question will be addressed.

Working bibliography

Working bibliography

A working bibliography is explained on pages 457-458. It lists the sources you plan to use in your research project. There are two advantages:

  • It helps you keep track of the sources you’ve located.

  • It makes it easier to prepare your Works Cited or References page later on.

More on doing research

More on doing research

  • Lists information needed for each type of source: books, articles, electronic information.

  • Looks at library databases, pages 459-462.

  • Shows an entry from an online catalog; it’s annotated to show what some of the fields mean. Notice that you are looking at the full citation for the source.

Two ways to analyze sources

Two ways to analyze sources

Presents ideas for how to integrate sources, and suggests two ways to analyze sources:

  • Need to analyze how relevant sources are to your research question (see five questions).

  • Need to look at the rhetorical situation and the arguments made by the writers (see four questions).

Taking notes

Taking notes

Methods vary on taking notes:

  • Some like using note cards.

  • Others like to use spiral notebooks, where they keep all of their notes.

  • Others make photocopies of sources and annotate them.

  • More recently, some use their computers to take notes.

Amira s notes

Amira’s notes

  • See page 465 for some of Amira’s notes.

  • Notice that she makes sure that she included a citation of the source at the top of the entry.

  • She uses a bulleted list for key ideas.

  • She includes one quote.

  • She also makes a note to herself of something that she may need to explain in the essay.

Planning and drafting

Planning and drafting

  • Amira does an exploratory writing exercise, pages 466-467.

  • She then makes an outline, page 467.

  • Notice that it includes enough detail to be useful, but does not use roman numerals.

  • She does indent some entries to show a hierarchy of main ideas and supporting details.

Looking ahead

Looking ahead

  • Amira now has analyzed her assignment, gathered research, and created an outline.

  • Now she’s ready to start writing the paper.

  • The next chapter will look at ways to incorporate sources into essays and research projects.

Companion student website

Companion Student Website

  • Go to the student side of the Web site for exercises, chapter overviews, and links to writing resources for this chapter:

  • Click on the textbook cover, and then select Student Resources.

  • Login