Writing a Research Paper Daniel W. Blackmon Coral Gables Senior High
One’s research technique is the same whether one is writing: • A term paper for a class • An Internal Assessment for IB • The Extended Essay for IB • Your master’s thesis • Your dissertation
Define your topic • Phrase the topic as a research question. • Narrow the question down to fit the length of the paper. • If your research opens new directions or possibilities, then simply change your research question. • Phrasing the topic as a question helps you stay focused.
Construct a tentative bibliography • Consult the select bibliography of a general textbook! This will help you find out the most important authors and/or works on the period.
The Bibliography continued: • Use the on-line catalog by author and subject to assemble titles. • Unless you already know some of the authorities in your field, start with the subject and / or key words.
The Bibliography continued: • If you can get into the stacks, take the time to browse. This can be very rewarding. • No search program is any better than the indexing done when the database was created. There may be very useful books available that did not turn up on your computer search.
The Bibliography continued: • Investigate scholarly journals. • Journal articles by definition are very focused. An article that is useful is likely to be very useful.
The Bibliography continued: • At the University of Miami, you would access scholarly journals by clicking the icon for Richter Library.
The Bibliography continued: • Then, under Resources, click on Databases and Indexes. • From there, select your subject area.
The Bibliography continued: • For example, under History, a powerful tool would be JSTOR • Using JSTOR, a search under “quilombos” of journals in History, Latin America, and African-Americans yielded the following:
The Bibliography continued: • The Quilombo of Palmares: A New Overview of a Maroon State in Seventeenth-Century Brazil. • Robert Nelson Anderson • Journal of Latin American Studies, Vol. 28, No. 3, Brazil: History and Society. (Oct., 1996), pp. 545-566
The Bibliography continued: • JSTOR allows you to see: • Citation / Abstract • View Article • Page of First Match • Print • Download
The Bibliography continued: • This can be a very powerful tool for your basic research, so do not neglect it!
The Bibliography continued: • Check the Internet for good sources. • But use good judgment! Just because something is on the Web does not mean that it is reliable! • Sites that end in .gov or .edu may usually be presumed to be reliable.
The Bibliography continued: • Constructing a good, working bibliography is an essential step in writing a good paper. • Do not try to take short cuts at this stage. • A research paper which is based on inadequate or flawed research cannot be salvaged.
Note Cards • The use of note cards is not optional!
Note Cards • The use of note cards is mandatory!!!!
Note Cards • Failure to produce your note cards [and diskette] upon demand will create a presumption of malpractice if I have questions regarding whether the paper is your own work or not!
Note Cards • Note cards allow you to manipulate your data effectively. • Note cards allow you to cite your sources correctly. • Note cards demonstrate that the work is yours, and has not been downloaded or purchased off the internet.
Note Cards • Making note cards can be tedious. • Be methodical. Create good habits now and you will not get into trouble. • There are now hand held, pen-sized scanners that potentially could take a lot of the tedium out of making note cards.
Note Cards • There are two types of Note Cards: • Bibliography Cards • Data Cards
Bibliography Cards • Use ONE card for every source you use. • Include all necessary bibliographic information on the card, so that you can construct your Works Cited page from it easily. • Include the call number of the book. • Identify each Bibliography Card with a number (I use Roman Numerals).
Bibliography Cards • You will use the number in the top right hand corner to identify the source for each data card. • Otherwise, you have to write the name of the author on every single data card, which is really tedious, even for me!
For Example: I Fest, Joachim. Hitler. Transl. Richard and Clara Winston. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich. 1974. [add the call letters for your library here.]
For Example: II Beveridge, Albert J. “The Taste of Empire." Annals of America. Vol. 12. Chicago: Encyclopedia Britannica, 1976. 198-202..
For Example: • III • Hunt, James C. "Between the Ghetto and the Nation: Catholics in the Weimar Republic." Towards the Holocaust: The Social and Economic Collapse of the Weimar Republic. Ed. Michael N. Dobkowski and Isidor Walliman. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1983.
For Example: IV Rawley, James. The Atlantic Slave Trade. New York: Norton, 1981.
Data Cards • Data cards include the information with which you will write the paper. • That information may be a direct quote. • It may also be an indirect quote.
Data Cards • A direct quote is a verbatim account of what the author said. • Indicate direct quotes on your data cards by enclosing them in quotation marks. • Direct quotes must be cited in your paper!
Data Cards continued • An indirect quote may be a paraphrase, a summary, or a condensation of the authors ideas. • Indirect quotes must be cited in your paper!
Citations: • If you cite your source, then you are engaging in Scholarship. • If you fail to cite your source, then you are engaging in Plagiarism!
Data Cards continued: • Each data card should be identified by the source number and also by a number that indicates its sequence from the same source. • I use a system that looks like this: • I.1, I.2, I.3 etc.
Data Cards continued: • Each data cards must also include the page number in the source where the information was found! • Failure to include page numbers means you cannot cite properly!
Example of a Data Card: II.1 "But today, we are raising more than we can consume. Today we are making more than we can use. Today our industrial society is congested: there are more workers than there is work; there is more capital than there is investment. . . . Therefore, we must find new markets for our produce, new occupation for our capital, new work for our labor." (206)
Example of a Data Card: I.13 Hitler moved to Munich in order to escape military service in Austria. He was arrested by Austrian police in 1914, but was excused on the grounds of physical unfitness. When the war broke out, Hitler volunteered for the Bavarian army, which required special permission since he was an Austrian citizen. (61-65)
Data Card Cited Within the Text Ironically, Hitler moved from Vienna to Munich in order to escape military service. The Austrian police tracked him down and arrested him in 1914, but excused him on the grounds of of physical unfitness. When the war broke out, Hitler volunteered for the Bavarian army, which required special permission since he was an Austrian citizen. (Fest 61-65)
Example of a Data Card: III.2 "Few bishops were as outspokenly antirepublican as was Michael Cardinal Faulhaber, Archbishop of Munich, at the 1922 Catholic Rally. Condemning the November Revolution as 'perjury and high treason,' he blamed Germany's distress on the Weimar Constitution.“ (206)
Data Card Cited Within the Text The Catholic Church was also quite hostile to the Weimar Republic, representing as it did a Social Democratic government. An example of outspoken clerical hostility was Michael Cardinal Faulhaber, Archbishop of Munich, who, in 1922, condemned the November Revolution as “perjury and high treason” and blamed the Weimar Constitution for Germany’s troubles. (Hunt 206)
Example of a Data Card: • IV.103 • Estimated Slave Imports into the Americas by Importing Region 1451-1870 • Region and CountryCurtinRawley% • Old World 175,000 297,000 2.6 • Spanish America 1,552,10 1,687,000 14.8 • Brazil 3,646,800 4,190,000 36.9 • British Caribbean 1,665,000 2,443,000 21.5 • French Caribbean 1,600,200 1,655,000 14.5 • Dutch Caribbean 500,000 500,000 4.4 • Danish Caribbean 28,000 50,000 .4 • British North America 399,000 523,000 4.6 • ------------- ------------- • 9,566,100 11,345,000 • (428)
Data Card Cited Within the Text • Estimated Slave Imports into the Americas by Importing Region 1451-1870 • Region and CountryCurtinRawley% • Old World 175,000 297,000 2.6 • Spanish America 1,552,10 1,687,000 14.8 • Brazil 3,646,800 4,190,000 36.9 • British Caribbean 1,665,000 2,443,000 21.5 • French Caribbean 1,600,200 1,655,000 14.5 • Dutch Caribbean 500,000 500,000 4.4 • Danish Caribbean 28,000 50,000 .4 • British North America 399,000 523,000 4.6 • ------------- ------------- • 9,566,100 11,345,000 • (Rawley 428)
Organizing Your Information • Once you have completed your research, you can begin organizing your data. • Outline the broad headings for your paper. • Sort your data cards under these broad headings.
Organizing Your Information • Refine your outline into subheadings. • Re-sort your data cards into the new subheadings. • Continue this process until you have sorted every data card into the specific heading you wish to use it with. • At this point, your data cards will be sorted into the order in which you will actually use them.
Organizing Your Information • If you use this approach, the length of the paper is irrelevant. • You divide up the paper into logical components or modules, and then write each component in turn. • If you have done your work properly up to this point, the paper will practically write itself.
Writing Drafts • Good writing is always a process of revision. • When you finish your first session writing a draft, save the file using an extension: FILENAME.001. • When you finish your next session, save the file using a different filename: Save As FILENAME.002
Writing Drafts • When you finish your next session, you again use a new extension: Save As FILENAME.003 • This technique provides part of the proof that the work is your own, since it documents the process of composition.
Writing Drafts • Failure to follow this technique will create a presumption of malpractice if I have questions regarding whether the paper is your own work or not!
Writing Drafts • When you have finished your first draft, re-read it carefully for logical consistency, writing style, spelling, grammar, punctuation, and correct use of MLA.
Writing Drafts • The final draft of your paper represents you. It should be stylistically as perfect as you can make it.
Writing Drafts • Remember: good writing requires revision!
Final Draft • The final draft should look look neat. • It must be double spaced, use one inch margins, and should be written using 12 point font. • Any last typographical errors must be corrected in black ink.