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Research Workshop SJCC Reading & Writing Center. Series 3: The Writing Process. Review of the Research Paper Process: What stage are you at?. Exploring Organizing and Analyzing Information Ready to Outline and Write the Paper. From a Broad Topic to a Narrow Topic.

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review of the research paper process what stage are you at
Review of the Research Paper Process: What stage are you at?
  • Exploring
  • Organizing and Analyzing Information
  • Ready to Outline and Write the Paper
from a broad topic to a narrow topic
From a Broad Topic to a Narrow Topic
  • As you explore and find sources, move from a broad topic to a more narrow focus.
  • Think of your topic as an entire pie; your research paper should only be a slice of pie—not the whole dish.
thesis 101
Thesis 101
  • To get started, identify at least two parts:
    • the focus or scope of your topic
    • your claim about your topic.
  • Using “training wheels” such as

In this essay I plan to prove that__________________________________________________________________________.

  • A clear, precise thesis statement helps unify what you write; it’s a promise to your readers that you’ll stay with the topic you’ve declared.*

*Source: Glenn, C., R.K. Miller, S.S. Webb, and L. Gray. The Writer’s Handbook. Second Ed. Boston: Thomson Heinle, 2004.

good questions to a sk yourself
Good Questions to Ask Yourself

Directly from The Craft of Researchby Booth, Colomb, & Williams (pg. 101):

  • What question am I asking?
  • What problem am I posing?
  • Keep rehearsing that formula, I am working on X to learn more about Y, so that my readers can better understand Z
  • Does this make sense?
  • Am I missing anything important?
  • What else would [my reader] like to know?
steps to the rough draft
Steps to the Rough Draft
  • Once you have finalized your thesis--it doesn’t have to be eloquent or pretty, but it should be a strong controlling idea--you can start to outline your paper.
  • When you outline, consider what patterns, or combination of patterns might work for proving your thesis and structuring your essay.
  • The next slide lists of some patterns of organization.
rhetorical moves patterns organization
Rhetorical Moves/Patterns/Organization
  • Description
  • Narration
  • Exemplification
  • Process Analysis
  • Causal Analysis
  • Definition
  • Classification
  • Comparison & Contrast
  • Argument
  • Or, Blended Options
more sources for organizing
More Sources for Organizing . . .
  • We will post links to the blog ( to give you more ideas for patterns of organization and sample outlines.
  • Also, trust your instinct about how you would present your ideas about your topic in an essay. Or, to put it another way, go with what makes sense—these additional sources are only meant to help you, not overwhelm you.
organizing to outlining
Organizing to Outlining . . .
  • In the next slide, we will look at a sample outline for an argumentative paper.
  • Then, we will go into more details about constructing an argument in your body paragraphs.
outlines cont http www uwc ucf edu handouts sample argument outline pdf
Section III

Claim: Lifting sanctions would benefit the American economy by increasing oil production

Evidence: logical appeal (facts), emotional appeal

• would cut down on gas and oil prices

Section IV -- Dealing with the Opposition

1st Opposing View: Sanctions are necessary to prevent Iraq from supporting terrorists and

becoming a regional problem again

Strategy for Response: Concede that we want to prevent more conflict and stop terrorism...but we

should lift sanctions gradually, and maintain a military presence in the area (compromise)

2nd Opposing View: Lifting sanctions would make the U.S. look weak

Strategy for Response: It is the humane and fair action to take; also, sanctions contribute to hatred

of the United States and encourage terrorist sentiment (rebuttal)


End with a conclusion that suggests the larger importance of this issue, and why we should care.

Create a final statement that is powerful and memorable.

Outlines, cont.

Sample Argument Outline

Introductory Section

Thesis (claim and reason): The American government should lift economic sanctions against

Iraq, because this policy does more harm than good for both countries.

Body Sections

Section I

Claim: The sanctions have not accomplished their goal.

Evidence: logical appeal (facts, expert authority)

• Saddam Hussein is still in power

• other dictators have withstood sanctions (Fidel Castro)

Section II

Claim: Rather than hurting Saddam, the sanctions only make life worse for the common people of


Evidence: logical appeal (statistics), ethical appeal (fair, humane), emotional appeal

• goes against American ideals of helping other people

• thousands of Iraqi children die each month sanctions continue

• restrictions on medicine and food hurt the poorest people first

the toulmin argument
The Toulmin Argument

Adapted from pg. 116 from The Craft of Research by Booth et al. (2008).







the toulmin argument1
Source image: Toulmin Argument
paragraph example of a version of the toulmin argument
Paragraph example of a version of the Toulmin argument.
  • From The Craft of Research (Booth et al., 2008)

TV violence can have harmful psychological effects on children claim 1 because those exposed to lots of it tend to adopt the values of what they see. reason 1 Their constant exposure to violent images makes them unable to distinguish fantasy from reality. reason 2 Smith (1997) found that children ages 5-7 who watched more than three hours of violent television a day were 25 percent more likely to say that most of what they saw on television was “really happening.” evidence supporting reason 2 Of course, some children who watch more violent entertainment might already be attracted to violence. acknowledgement But Jones (1999) found that children with no predisposition to violence were attracted to violent images as those with a violent history. response

introductory paragraphs
Introductory Paragraphs

Made up of three parts:

  • Lead in (or hook)
  • Background information
  • Thesis statement

Suggestions for a lead in:

    • Begin with a question.
    • Begin with a quotation.
    • Begin with an unusual or odd fact
    • Begin with a particularly interesting, striking, or shocking fact.
sample introduction
From the article “A Voice for the Forsaken; Criminal law in California” from The Economist (06/13/09)Sample Introduction

IN 1995, a year after Californians voted for a "three strikes and you're out" law that guaranteed much tougher sentences for criminals who reoffend, Curtis Wilkerson stole a pair of socks that cost $2.50. This is usually counted as a misdemeanor, but a prosecutor in Los Angeles got it classed as a felony. Since Mr. Wilkerson had already been convicted of abetting two robberies in 1981, when he was 19, his petty theft was counted as the third strike. He was sentenced to life in prison.

Getting Mr. Wilkerson and others like him out of prison is now the mission of a group of students at Stanford Law School. Under the supervision of two teachers, Michael Romano and GalitLipa, they try to bring the most egregious injustices of California's three-strikes law before judges. About 1,000 "strikers" have written to them from prison, and about 20 are active cases. Three have been released so far.

conclusion paragraphs
Conclusion Paragraphs
  • A good conclusion has these two characteristics: it summarizes the main points from the body of the essay, and it leaves the reader something to think about
more conclusion suggestions
More Conclusion Suggestions:

1. Generalization—Sentences that make one of your specific points more general in focus.

2. Question for Further Study—Sentences that mention a related subject or question that is beyond the focus of the essay.

3. Synthesis of Main Points—Sentences that pull together the points proven in the essay to say something new.

4. Application—Sentences that apply the proven thesis statement to another idea or issue.

5. Argument Limitations—Sentences that explain how or why your conclusions are limited.

6. Emphasis of Key Point—Sentences that mention and add importance to one of the points of your essay.

7. Statement of Significance—Sentences that discuss the importance and relevance of the proven thesis statement.


writing tips
Writing Tips
  • Organize information first (outline or other technique)
  • Write quickly to get across ideas (take it idea by idea).
  • The rough draft is rough.
  • Then, you can revise for clarity and proofread for grammar and spelling mistakes.
  • Use transitions to help your readers to follow your ideas and build a bridge to the next paragraph.
mla citation
  • Look at the Series 2 PPT and the additional resources posted on the blog for questions on in-text citations.
  • The RWCUS blog has links to documents from that explains MLA citation for the Works Cited page.
anything else
Anything Else?
  • Do you feel ready to write?
  • Remember to consult with a librarian.
  • Talk to a friend about your ideas.
  • Visit the SJCC Reading & Writing Center for individual help.