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Writing a Research Paper

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Writing a Research Paper

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  1. Writing a Research Paper

  2. What does an essay look like? Introduction Point 1/Supporting details Point 2/Supporting details Point 3/Supporting details Point 4/Supporting details Conclusion References/Works Cited

  3. Introduction What is the function of an introduction? An introduction • captures your audience's attention. • gives background on your topic. • develops interest in your topic. • guides your reader to your thesis.

  4. Thesis What’s a thesis? • A thesis statement in an essay is a sentence that explicitly identifies the purpose of the paper or previews its main ideas. A thesis statement is an assertion, not a statement of fact or an observation. • Fact or observation: People use many lawn chemicals. • Thesis: People are poisoning the environment with chemicals merely to keep their lawns clean.

  5. Thesis, 2 A thesis takes a stand rather than announcing a subject. • Announcement: The thesis of this paper is the difficulty of solving our environmental problems. • Thesis: Solving our environmental problems is more difficult than many environmentalists believe. A thesis is the main idea, not the title. It must be a complete sentence that explains in some detail what you expect to write about. • Title: Social Security and Old Age. • Thesis: Continuing changes in the Social Security System make it almost impossible to plan intelligently for one's retirement.

  6. Thesis, 3 A thesis statement is narrow, rather than broad. If the thesis statement is sufficiently narrow, it can be fully supported. • Broad: The American steel industry has many problems. • Narrow: The primary problem if the American steel industry is the lack of funds to renovate outdated plants and equipment. A thesis statement is specific rather than vague or general. • Vague: Hemingway's war stories are very good. • Specific: Hemingway's stories helped create a new prose style by employing extensive dialogue, shorter sentences, and strong Anglo-Saxon words.

  7. Thesis, 4 A thesis statement has one main point rather than several main points. More than one point may be too difficult for the reader to understand and the writer to support. • More than one main point: Stephen Hawking's physical disability has not prevented him from becoming a world-renowned physicist, and his book is the subject of a movie. • One Main point: Stephen Hawking's physical disability has not prevented him from becoming a world renowned physicist.

  8. Thesis, 5 • You can revise your thesis statement whenever you want to while you are writing your essay. Writers often discover what their real purpose and point is in the process of putting their thoughts into words and then reading what they've written.

  9. Introduction, continued How can I write an introduction? There are three basic ways to write an introduction: • You can write the introduction after you write the body of your essay. • You can write the introduction before you write the body of your essay. • You can rough out the introduction first and then focus and revise it once you have written your essay. • Many people write a rough draft and from that find out what their purpose really is and what they really believe. Then they revise the focus, language, or order of their introduction. This sequence -- of drafting an introduction and then revising and refining it once the body of the paper is sketched out -- is very common. None of the above situations is better!

  10. Introduction, continued What goes on in an introduction? There is no single right form for an introduction to take, but one common form that many writers use is the following: • The introduction begins with a broad statement about the main idea. This statement might suggest background or the general category to which the thesis idea belongs. • The next sentences are more specific, moving closer to the actual thesis of the essay. • The final sentence of an introduction often contains a fairly specific version of the main idea; it is the thesis statement.

  11. Body of Essay (Support) The Basic Rule: Keep One Idea to One Paragraph • The basic rule of thumb with paragraphing is to keep one idea to one paragraph. If you begin to transition into a new idea, it belongs in a new paragraph. There are some simple ways to tell if you are on the same topic or a new one. You can have one idea and several bits of supporting evidence within a single paragraph. You can also have several points in a single paragraph as long as they relate to the overall topic of the paragraph. If the single points start to get long, then perhaps elaborating on each of them and placing them in their own paragraphs is the route to go.

  12. Body of Essay Elements of a Paragraph • To be as effective as possible, a paragraph should contain each of the following: Unity, Coherence, A Topic Sentence, and Adequate Development. As you will see, all of these traits overlap. Using and adapting them to your individual purposes will help you construct effective paragraphs.

  13. Body of Essay Unity • The entire paragraph should concern itself with a single focus. If it begins with a one focus or major point of discussion, it should not end with another or wander within different ideas. Coherence • Coherence is the trait that makes the paragraph easily understandable to a reader. You can help create coherence in your paragraphs by creating logical bridges and verbal bridges.

  14. Body of Essay A topic sentence • A topic sentence is a sentence that indicates in a general way what idea or thesis the paragraph is going to deal with. An easy way to make sure your reader understands the topic of the paragraph is to put your topic sentence near the beginning of the paragraph. (This is a good general rule for less experienced writers, although it is not the only way to do it). Regardless of whether you include an explicit topic sentence or not, you should be able to easily summarize what the paragraph is about.

  15. Body of Essay Adequate development • The topic (which is introduced by the topic sentence) should be discussed fully and adequately. Again, this varies from paragraph to paragraph, depending on the author's purpose, but writers should beware of paragraphs that only have two or three sentences. It's a pretty good bet that the paragraph is not fully developed if it is that short.

  16. Body of Essay • Some methods to make sure your paragraph is well-developed: • Use examples and illustrations • Cite data (facts, statistics, evidence, details, and others) • Examine testimony (what other people say such as quotes and paraphrases) • Use an anecdote or story • Define terms in the paragraph • Compare and contrast • Evaluate causes and reasons • Examine effects and consequences • Analyze the topic • Describe the topic • Offer a chronology of an event (time segments)

  17. In-Text Citation of Data • MLA • “Evans is a fantastic school,” according to experts (Thornton 354). • Experts said, “Evans is a fantastic school” (Thornton 354). • Many educational researchers believe Evans High School is great (Thornton 354). • Thornton believes Evans is a great school (354).

  18. In-Text Citation of Data • APA • “Evans is a fantastic school,” according to experts (Thornton, 2009). • Experts said, “Evans is a fantastic school” (Thornton, 2009). • Many educational researchers believe Evans High School is great (Thornton, 2009). • Thornton believes Evans is a great school (2009).

  19. When do I start a new paragraph? You should start a new paragraph when: • When you begin a new idea or point. New ideas should always start in new paragraphs. If you have an extended idea that spans multiple paragraphs, each new point within that idea should have its own paragraph. • To contrast information or ideas. Separate paragraphs can serve to contrast sides in a debate, different points in an argument, or any other difference. • When your readers need a pause. Breaks in paragraphs function as a short "break" for your readers—adding these in will help your writing more readable. You would create a break if the paragraph becomes too long or the material is complex. • When you are ending your introduction or starting your conclusion. Your introductory and concluding material should always be in a new paragraph. Many introductions and conclusions have multiple paragraphs depending on their content, length, and the writer's purpose.

  20. Organization of material Use an organizational structure that arranges the argument in a way that will make sense to the reader. The Toulmin Method of logic is a common and easy to use formula for organizing an argument. The basic format for the Toulmin Method is as follows: • Claim: The overall thesis the writer will argue for. • Data: Evidence gathered to support the claim. • Warrant (also referred to as a bridge): Explanation of why or how the data supports the claim, the underlying assumption that connects your data to your claim.

  21. Organization of material Toulmin method, continued • Backing (also referred to as the foundation): Additional logic or reasoning that may be necessary to support the warrant. • Counterclaim: A claim that negates or disagrees with the thesis/claim. • Rebuttal: Evidence that negates or disagrees with the counterclaim. • Including a well thought out warrant or bridge is essential to writing a good argumentative essay or paper. If you present data to your audience without explaining how it supports your thesis they may not make a connection between the two or they may draw different conclusions. • Don't avoid the opposing side of an argument. Instead, include the opposing side as a counterclaim. Find out what the other side is saying and respond to it within your own argument. This is important so that the audience is not swayed by weak, but un-refuted, arguments. Including counterclaims allows you to find common ground with more of your readers. It also makes you look more credible because you appear to be knowledgeable about the entirety of the debate rather than just being biased or uniformed. You may want to include several counterclaims to show that you have thoroughly researched the topic.

  22. Conclusion Strategies for Writing a Conclusion • Conclusions are often the most difficult part of an essay to write, and many writers feel that they have nothing left to say after having written the paper. A writer needs to keep in mind that the conclusion is often what a reader remembers best. Your conclusion should be the best part of your paper. A conclusion should • stress the importance of the thesis statement, • give the essay a sense of completeness, and • leave a final impression on the reader.

  23. Conclusion, 2 Suggestions • Answer the question "So What?" Show your readers why this paper was important. Show them that your paper was meaningful and useful. • Synthesize, don't summarize • Don't simply repeat things that were in your paper. They have read it. Show them how the points you made and the support and examples you used were not random, but fit together. • Redirect your readers • Give your reader something to think about, perhaps a way to use your paper in the "real" world. If your introduction went from general to specific, make your conclusion go from specific to general. Think globally. • Create a new meaning • You don't have to give new information to create a new meaning. By demonstrating how your ideas work together, you can create a new picture. Often the sum of the paper is worth more than its parts.

  24. Conclusion, 3 Strategies Echoing the introduction: Echoing your introduction can be a good strategy if it is meant to bring the reader full-circle. If you begin by describing a scenario, you can end with the same scenario as proof that your essay was helpful in creating a new understanding.

  25. Conclusion, 4 Example • Introduction • From the parking lot, I could see the towers of the castle of the Magic Kingdom standing stately against the blue sky. To the right, the tall peak of The Matterhorn rose even higher. From the left, I could hear the jungle sounds of Adventureland. As I entered the gate, Main Street stretched before me with its quaint shops evoking an old-fashioned small town so charming it could never have existed. I was entranced. Disneyland may have been built for children, but it brings out the child in adults. • Conclusion • I thought I would spend a few hours at Disneyland, but here I was at 1:00 A.M., closing time, leaving the front gates with the now dark towers of the Magic Kingdom behind me. I could see tired children, toddling along and struggling to keep their eyes open as best they could. Others slept in their parents' arms as we waited for the parking lot tram that would take us to our cars. My forty-year-old feet ached, and I felt a bit sad to think that in a couple of days I would be leaving California, my vacation over, to go back to my desk. But then I smiled to think that for at least a day I felt ten years old again.

  26. Conclusion, 5 • Challenging the reader: By issuing a challenge to your readers, you are helping them to redirect the information in the paper, and they may apply it to their own lives. Example • Though serving on a jury is not only a civic responsibility but also an interesting experience, many people still view jury duty as a chore that interrupts their jobs and the routine of their daily lives. However, juries are part of America's attempt to be a free and just society. Thus, jury duty challenges us to be interested and responsible citizens.

  27. Conclusion, 6 • Looking to the future: Looking to the future can emphasize the importance of your paper or redirect the readers' thought process. It may help them apply the new information to their lives or see things more globally. Example • Without well-qualified teachers, schools are little more than buildings and equipment. If higher-paying careers continue to attract the best and the brightest students, there will not only be a shortage of teachers, but the teachers available may not have the best qualifications. Our youth will suffer. And when youth suffers, the future suffers.

  28. Conclusion, 7 • Posing questions: Posing questions, either to your readers or in general, may help your readers gain a new perspective on the topic, which they may not have held before reading your conclusion. It may also bring your main ideas together to create a new meaning. Example • Campaign advertisements should help us understand the candidate's qualifications and positions on the issues. Instead, most tell us what a boob or knave the opposing candidate is, or they present general images of the candidate as a family person or God-fearing American. Do such advertisements contribute to creating an informed electorate or a people who choose political leaders the same way they choose soft drinks and soap?

  29. Works Cited/References • Works Cited –MLA • References-APA • Alphabetical order according to the author’s last name • Double-space everything • Hanging indents • Use same font/font size as the rest of the paper • Use Perdue University’s Online Writing Lab (http://owl.english.purdue.edu/) for more tips and specific guidelines • Ask Mrs. T for help BEFORE Friday!!!!!!!! • 

  30. Revision • Have the needs of the audience been kept in mind? • Have the ideas been adequately developed? • Are all paragraphs unified and coherent? • Is there an inherent logical order evident in the placement of each paragraph?  • Do the paragraphs flow smoothly from one to another? • Does each paragraph serve a logical purpose?  • Could any of the sentences be written more concisely without losing meaning?  • Are the sentences clear and complete?  • Are there sentences that announce what you are going to say or that sum up what have already said, and therefore could be cut? • Is the piece of writing fair to the subject and to the reader? Editing Guidelines: • Minimal use of passive voice • Use of specific details • Consistency of verb tense • Minimal use of forms of "to be" • Varied sentence structure, rhythm, and length • Word choice: clear, effective, concise • Grammar: pronoun-antecedent agreement, subject-verb agreement, sentence fragments/run-ons • Spelling • Punctuation: comma splices, quotations, titles