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Thoughtful research:. Moving beyond the topic! . So, what’s the big deal about research?. It’s just another project!. Research is a real-life skill. Research projects are training grounds for adult problem-solving and decision-making Which car should I buy and how much should I pay?
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Thoughtful research: Moving beyond the topic!
So, what’s the big deal about research? It’s just another project!
Research is a real-life skill Research projects are training grounds for adult problem-solving and decision-making • Which car should I buy and how much should I pay? • Which candidate will best represent my interests? • How can I convince my boss to accept my proposal? • How should we work together to rebuild Iraq? • Who do I believe?
No more reports! • The . . . • country • state • president • animal report has already been done (very well) by any number of encyclopedias. Why should we ask you to waste your time?
Analyze Judge Support or reject or critique Prioritize Evaluate Plan Debate Conclude Recommend Justify Argue Propose Invent Thoughtful research asks you to:
We are asking for . . . more meaningful, and more interesting research!
When you search: Three tips: • Focus—what is your mission? your question? Be specific! • Strategize—select search tools and search terms with precision • Refine—attempt to improve your search results • Evaluate—which results to visit, which documents to use? Did I do good work?
Start with good questions • “Which one” • “How” • “What if” • “Should” • “Why” • Brainstormer http://mciu.org/~spjvweb/questbrain.html
What your teachers expect: • All research is inquiry-driven, based on good questions • Perfect bibliographic format • Defense of your source choices in annotations • Quality, balanced sources. No research holes! • Variety of access tools—search engines, subject directories, databases, books • Original work, your own voice. No plagiarism!
Evaluate your sources! • Are your sources from a variety of media formats? • Have you considered the credibility, accuracy, currency, appropriateness, and relevance of all sources? • Have you pursued sources energetically? • Have you followed documentation guidelines?
Have you used print? • Non-fiction books are filtered for quality! • Non-fiction books are written not only by subject specialists, they are written by authors who know the needs of their audience. • It may take a year or two of research and editing for an author to publish a book. Many web pages are “thrown up” in a very short time period. • Probably 90% of this library’s collection is NOT on the Web. • You may need to get up. It’s not all on the Web.
Process for developing the thoughtful thesis topic questions tentative thesis thesis
Why, a thesis? • A thesis statement declares what you intend to prove. • A thesis gives your work focus. • A good thesis statement makes the difference between a thoughtful research project and a simple retelling of facts. • It makes the work worth doing!
I have a thesis. Where do I put it? The thesis statement is typically located at the end of your opening paragraph. (The opening paragraph serves to set the context for the thesis.)
What does a thesis look like? 2 Simple equations: Specific topic + Attitude/Angle/Argument = Thesis (or 3 Ts: Topic + ’Tude = Thesis) What you plan to argue + How you plan to argue it = Your thesis
Attributes of a good thesis: Contestable—proposes an argument with which people could reasonably disagree. Provocative—takes a stand and justifies the discussion you will present. Coverable—could be adequately covered in the format of the project assigned. Specific and focused—proves a point without discussing “everything in the world about …” Provable—asserts your own conclusion based on solid evidence.
Don’t rush your thesis! • A good tentative thesis will help you focus your search for information. • You must do a lot of background reading before you know enough about a subject to identify the key or essential questions. • You may not know how you stand on an issue until you have examined the evidence. • You will likely begin your research with a working, preliminary or tentative thesis which you will continue to refine until you are certain of where the evidence leads.
Be flexible! The evidence may lead you to a conclusion you didn't think you’d reach. It is perfectly okay to change your thesis!
How will you find a thesis? As you read look for: • Interesting contrasts or comparisons or patterns emerging in the information • Something about the topic that surprises you • Ideas that make you wonder why? • Priorities you can weigh • Something an “expert” says that makes you respond, “No way! That can’t be right!” or “Yes, absolutely. I agree!”
Try these five tests on your own tentative thesis: 1. Does the thesis inspire a reasonable reader to ask,“How?” or “Why?” 2. Would a reasonable reader NOT respond with “Duh!” or “So what?” or “Gee, no kidding!” or “Who cares?” 3. Does the thesis avoid general phrasing and/or sweeping words such as “all” or “none” or “every”? 4. Does the thesis lead the reader toward the topic sentences (the subtopics needed to prove the thesis)? 5. Can the thesis be adequately developed in the required length of the paper or project? If you cannot answer “YES” to these questions, what changes must you make in order for your thesis to pass these tests?
Are these good thesis statements? (Use the five tests to decide.) 1. Terrorism should not happen. 2. The causes of the Civil War were economic, social, and political. 3. The Simpsons represents the greatest animated show in the history of television. 4. The Simpsons treats the issues of ethnicity, family dynamics, and social issues effectively. 5. Often dismissed because it is animated, The Simpsons treats the issue of ethnicity more powerfully than didthe critically praised All In The Family.
Now you are ready!Go forth and do powerful, thoughtful research! Remember, you are not alone. Check frequently with your teacher-librarian and classroom teacher for guidance!