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Writing Excellent Research Papers

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  1. Writing Excellent Research Papers ASPA Student Summit April 10, 2010 Patricia M. Shields, Ph.D. Director, MPA Program Texas State University ps07@txstate.edu http://uweb.txstate.edu/~ps07/

  2. Tools of Scholarly Research Step by Step NotebookProject ManagementTime, Materials, Ideas Conceptual Frameworks Organize Ideas and Data

  3. Focus: 20+ page scholarly paper • Literature Review • Empirical ResearchCollect and Analyze Data Dissertation Applied Research Project

  4. Texas State Experience Problem • Poor Literature Review • Poor Organization • No Conceptual Framework Evidence • Awards • Downloads on ecommonshttp://ecommons.txstate.edu/arp/ • Opportunities

  5. Taxonomy of Cognitive Domain

  6. Thinking, Doing, Tools:Research Process

  7. You will be judged by how well you write because nobody really knows how well you think(Gray, 1998, 140) Critical Thinking • Application • Analysis • Synthesis • Evaluation

  8. Classical Pragmatism as intellectual source for workshop John Dewey William James Dewey, John. 1910. How We Think. New York: D.C. Heath Co. Dewey, John. 1938. Logic: the Theory of Inquiry. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston. James, William. 1907. Pragmatism: A New Name for an Old Way of Thinking. New Your: Longmans. Kaplan, Abraham. 1964. The Conduct of Inquiry: Methodology for Behavioral Science. Scranton, PA: Chandler Publishing. Emphasis on Tools of Inquiry

  9. Build a Research Paper : One Step at a TimeNotebook method for writing papers

  10. Common Problems • Can’t find time to work on it for more than an hour • After a while I lose my place and forget what I originally wanted to do

  11. The Step ProcessTransforms Writing a Paper Managing a Project Organizing • Materials • Time • Ideas

  12. Organizes Materials • Three-ring binder • Tabs

  13. Organizes Time Planning • Things-to-do list • Calendar

  14. Organizes Ideas Integrated Outline • Before writing begins the outline incorporates the reading, notes, interviews • Entire notebook builds to create the outline • Conceptual Frameworks

  15. Addresses Binge Writing • Common Form of Writer’s Block • Wait till the last minute to do the paper • Stress, sleeplessness • Poor quality work

  16. Causes Procrastination Feel overwhelmed Self doubt Need big block time Perfectionism Destructive self talk Perfect conditions Step Solution Planning Separate small activities Use time wisely Persistence Use every day Practice habit of writing Binge Writing

  17. Organization Step Notebook • Things-To-Do List & Calendar • To find & useful information • Bibliography • Notes • Integrated Outline • Drafts • Sources

  18. Things-To-Do List — Tab • Project oriented - tasks for paper only • Breaks the many tasks into small manageable pieces (15 minutes - hour) • Emphasizes scholarly reading • Keeps track of book chapter, articles etc. • Links to notes • Addresses procrastination - easy to return to work after a break

  19. Calendar - Tab • Takes into account paper deadlines • Timetable for reading, notes, drafts etc.can be developed • Connects to other events in scholar’s life • Can be kept in personal Daytimer

  20. To Find - Tab • Many of the best references are found in the bibliography of articles and books that are being read. • Scholars should note the reference in this portion of the notebook as they go along.

  21. Miscellaneous - Tab Keep important difficult-to-classify information here. • Email exchanges with professor • Hotel and conference information • If several people are working on a project, keep key email exchanges here • Notes on phone conversations • Web sites

  22. Bibliography - Tab • Work on as paper progresses • Finish bibliography before begin writing paper • Can accomplish something on things-to-do list without having to think • Links to notes and things-to-do list

  23. Notes - Tab • Keep detailed notes in this section. • Organize alphabetically by last name of author. • Develops habit of writing. • Builds reading comprehension. • Ties directly to the integrated outline. • Essential part of process - this is where the student really learns the new material.

  24. Outline - Tab Integrated Outline • Outline that incorporates all of the notes. • Begin drafting paper after integrated outline is complete • Fewer frantic searches.

  25. Drafts - Tab • Early drafts are kept here. • Edit on hard copy and then make the corrections. • Use different color paper for different drafts.

  26. Sources - Tab • Hard copies of journal articles, book chapters, monographs, government publications • File alphabetically by last name of the author.

  27. Review - Organizing

  28. THINGS-TO-DO LIST INTEGRATED OUTLINE DRAFT WORKFLOW Name of the author needs to be included in each item READIING & NOTES Ideas Theories Facts Analysis Synthesis Clarifying crafting creating Names & titles

  29. LAST THINGS FIRST • What is the end- state or goal that a scholar trying to achieve?

  30. Concrete End-State of Paper • Series of coherently organized paragraphs • References imbedded in the paragraphs. Notebook reinforces the importance of • Author’s last name • Year of publication • Page of quote

  31. Applying the Activities • Armed Forces and International Security: Global Trends and Issues (encyclopedia - short) • Editors Franz Kernic and Jean Callaghan • Transaction Press 2003 Chapter - The Bureaucracy in Military Sociology (8 -10 pages) Purpose : “This chapter examines the intersection of military sociology and bureaucracy.”

  32. Example Paragraph with embedded references Cotty et al. (2002) examine civil-military relations in the emerging democracies of post-communist Eastern Europe. Like Feaver (1996) they believe there is too much concern in the literature over the “threat of praetorian military intervention in domestic policies” (Cottey et al. 2002:31). They call for a reconceptualization of civil-military relations “in terms of the governance of the defense and security sector” and the “wider problem of the democratic management and implementation of defense and security policy” (Cottey et al. 2002:32).

  33. Things-to-do listreinforces author’s name

  34. Starting the Things-To-Do List • Collect set of materials • Review & decide read or skim • Use post-it-notes to record read/skim • Each book chapter gets a note • Transfer post-it-note directives to Things-to-do list • Include note taking on list • Remember 15-60 minute tasks

  35. Things-To-Do List Emphasizes Reading and Thinking Important to read widely. Important to comprehend deeply. Ideas for paper come from the literature and thoughts of scholar. A persons writing ability is constrained by their reading comprehension. It is impossible to write clearly about a subject you do not understand.

  36. Importance of Notes • A form of “practice” writing. • Use “persistence” in note taking. • Deepens comprehension of books and articles. Think while you take notes

  37. Tips on Note-taking • Be self-reflective when taking notes. • Do you really understand what the material? • Less you understand the more detailed the notes should be. • Notes can be take on computer or by hand. • Be sure the author’s last name, year and page are on every page of the notes.

  38. p. 31 p. 32 Says too concerned in lit about “threat of praetorian military intervention in domestic policies.” Should “reconceptualize in terms of democratic governance of the defense & security sector.” Shifts focus to “the wider problem of the democratic mgt and implementation of defense & security policy.” PART OF BUREAUCRACY - job to implement policy Cottey et al 2002

  39. The Bureaucracy in Military Sociology I.Intro A.Set the stage/Weber ideal B.Purpose statement: This chapter examines the intersection of military sociology and bureaucracy Define mil sociology 2. Interdisciplinary study bureaucracy II.Military Bureaucracy Unique Definition-War Authority Leadership decisions Recent Trends A.Bureaucracy and civil-military relations 1.Mature democracies 2.Emerging democracies B.New Roles IV. Conclusion Example - Integrated Outline Step 1

  40. The Bureaucracy in Military Sociology I.Intro A.Set the stage/Weber ideal (Weber, Merton) B.Purpose statement: This chapter examines the intersection of military sociology and bureaucracy 1. Define mil sociology(Siebold, H-J & Moskos) 2. Interdisciplinary study bureaucracy Socio-(Mills) Political Sci (Allison) Policy science (Wilson) II.Military Bureaucracy Unique Definition - War (Janowitz & Little p.27-28) B. Authority (J&L p.27-28) C. Leadership decisions (Allison) III. Recent Trends Bur & Civil-military relations 1.mature democracies (Feaver) 2.emerging democracies (Cottey et al pp31-32)* B.New Roles(Mora, Parchomenko) IV. Conclusion *Paragraph slide 23 “Example” Integrated Outline Step 2

  41. Where does the outline come from? Analysis & Synthesis • Developing the outline can be the most difficult part of the process. • Think about organization of paper as go along. • Keep ideas in “miscellaneous” tab • Sorting method • Conceptual Framework

  42. THINGS-TO-DO LIST INTEGRATED OUTLINE DRAFT WORKFLOW Name of the author needs to be included in each item READIING & NOTES Ideas Theories Facts Analysis Synthesis Clarifying crafting creating Names & titles

  43. Equilibrium with greater complexity Equilibrium Path of learning or understanding while doing a paper

  44. As scholar confronts the unexpected while doing the reading- confusion-doubt Equilibrium with greater complexity Equilibrium with greater complexity Equilibrium • Unexpected doubt and reflective thought

  45. Notebook is a tool to manage the ‘doubt and confusion’ stage Equilibrium with greater complexity Step notebook is a tool that brings order to the outer world while the inner world changes Equilibrium Transformations of Inquiry

  46. Tools of Scholarly Research Step by Step NotebookProject ManagementTime, Materials, Ideas Conceptual Frameworks

  47. William James Pragmatism: Theory as Tool William JamesHotel Corridor (resolve problem) Labor Saving Contrivance (less mental effort) John Dewey John DeweyMaps (direction to data collection - in light of purpose)

  48. Review: Thinking, Doing, Tools

  49. What is a Conceptual Framework? Formal way of thinking (conceptualizing) about a process/system under study. Set of concepts linked to a planned or existing system of methods, behaviors, relationships and objects. Type of intermediate theory that connects to all aspects of inquiry (purpose, lit review, methodology, data collection, statistics). Conceptual frameworks act like maps that give coherence to empirical inquiry.

  50. Sources: Conceptual Framework • Shields, Patricia, M. and Hassan Tajalli. (2006). “Intermediate Theory: The Missing Link in Successful Student Scholarship.” Journal of Public Affairs Education 12(3): 313-334. http://ecommons.txstate.edu/polsfacp/39/ • Shields, Patricia M. (1998). “Pragmatism as a Philosophy of Science: A Tool for Public Administration,” Research in Public Administration. Volume 4: 195-225. http://ecommons.txstate.edu/polsfacp/33/