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Writing a Research Paper

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  1. Writing a Research Paper

  2. Developing a Research Plan • Develop a research plan which includes: • Purpose • Audience • Tone

  3. Purpose • What do you want to accomplish? • Dual purpose: • Discover information for yourself • Share new information with an audience • Create a synthesis of information – a bringing together of the pieces of information you uncover into a whole.

  4. Audience • Write for the audience who will read your paper. • Who is your audience? • What is your audience looking for? • Information • Better understanding of the topic • Going beyond what they already know • Don’t forget to interest your audience. • Look for surprising details or an unusual twist to old information.

  5. Tone • Serious – not stuffy • Think of yourself as an authority who wants to communicate to others. • Sound objective • DO NOT USE FIRST-PERSON PRONOUNS IN FORMAL RESEARCH • I • Me • My

  6. NO! NO!! NO!!! • DO NOT USE FIRST-PERSON PRONOUNS IN FORMAL RESEARCH • I I • My • Me

  7. Developing Research Questions • Generate research questions by brainstorming or by using the following questions: These questions are initial guidelines. • Who • When • Why How • What • Where

  8. Getting an Overview Research begins with an overview of your topic. You may want to start with an encyclopedia article or two to gain basic knowledge about your topic. Remember to explore both print and nonprint sources in your library and community.

  9. Sources of Information Library

  10. Sources of Information

  11. Sources of Information Community

  12. Evaluating Sources of Information • You can tell whether a source will be useful or not by applying the “4R” test. • Relevant Representative • Reliable • Recent

  13. Relevant • The source must contain information directly related to your topic.

  14. Recent • Always use sources that are as current as possible. • Even for a topic that doesn’t rely on data • and experiments, you should read the most • recent publications about it because they • will often show you which older sources of • information are still important.

  15. Reliable The source must be accurate. • If in doubt about a source, consult: • A librarian • An expert • Look for the authors most quoted on the topic or listed in the bibliographies of other sources.

  16. Representative • If there are two opposing viewpoints on your topic, you need to look at sources with information and opinions on both sides of the issue. • As a researcher, you must examine and present all relevant information, even if you finally draw a conclusion that one side’s position is stronger.

  17. Using Primary and Secondary Sources • A primary source is firsthand, original information. Remember: Reliable and Representative • May be: • Letter • Speech • Literary work • Eyewitness testimony • Personal remembrance • Autobiography • Historical document • Information gathered from firsthand interviews • Surveys

  18. Using Primary and Secondary Sources • A secondary source contains secondhand or indirect information, but that does not mean such sources are unimportant. • Secondary Sources: • Encyclopedia • entries • Expert’s opinion • Magazine article • Biography Remember: Reliable and Representative

  19. Listing Sources of Information • In the Works Cited list at the end of your report, you will provide full information about every source you used • – in a very precise format. • Always carefully record information about • sources as you use them.

  20. Source Cards (10) 1 • 3” x 5” cards are • Easy to handle • Easy to add to • Easy to sort into alphabetical order for the Works Cited list • Time saving at the end of the paper when you must type the Works Cited list. Smith, Michael. Monkeys. New York: Wesson, 1999. WMHS839.5 Sm

  21. Guidelines for Source Cards • Number your sources. • To save time during note taking, assign a number to each source. Then you can write the number, rather than author and title, when you are taking notes.

  22. Guidelines for Source Cards • Record all publishing information. • Take down everything you might need: • Title and subtitle • Editor or translator • Volume number • Original publication year • Revised edition year • You may end up with more than you need, • but you won’t have to backtrack for a tiny • piece of missing information.

  23. Guidelines for Source Cards • Note the call number or location. • This information will save you time if you must go back to a source later. 485.26 Sm

  24. Sample Source Card # Author: Last Name, First Name. Title (underlined). City: Publisher, Date. Call Number

  25. Reminder • Create a list of questions to guide your research • Gain a quick overview of your topic from general reference sources • Find specific information sources in the library or community • Use the “4R” test to evaluate the sources • Record all publishing information about your sources on index cards

  26. Prewriting Researching Your Topic

  27. Taking Notes • The diligent search for specific information is often the major part of a research project. • The time you spend finding the facts, examples, opinions, and quotations you need to produce a strong and convincing report will be time well spent – provided you take good notes.

  28. Taking Notes • Careful note taking is vital to a good paper. • Take notes thoughtfully, but sparingly – you can’t write down everything. • Referring to your research questions will keep you focused on needed information. • Use 3” x 5” or 4” x 6” cards so that you have ample space but can also easily sort information later. • You’ll take two main kinds of notes: • Summaries or paraphrases • Direct quotations

  29. Summaries A summary is a very brief statement, in your own words, of a source’s main ideas.

  30. Paraphrases • A paraphrase is a restatement that retains more details. • Often you’ll want to note important details • such as names, places, dates, and • statistics; they’re necessary and effective in • a good report.

  31. Summaries and Paraphrases • For note-taking purposes, summaries and paraphrases don’t have to be written in complete sentences. • You save space and time by using abbreviations, phrases, lists, and sentence fragments.

  32. Direct Quotations CITE CITE CITE • Use a direct quotation only when an idea is particularly well phrased or intriguing, or when you want to be sure of technical accuracy. • When writing write down a direct quotation, copy each word and punctuation mark carefully. • Always enclose direct quotes in quotation marks on your note card (even if you expect to paraphrase them later) so that when you write your report, you’ll remember that these words are the author’s, not your own.

  33. Guidelines for Note Cards • Use a separate note card for each source and for each main idea. • If a card has information from two sources or unconnected items, you will have trouble sorting and grouping the notes later.

  34. Guidelines for Note Cards • Write the source number in the upper right-hand corner and the page numbers(s) at the bottom of the note. • Both numbers are essential for correct documentation. • The number you have assigned to the source is your key to all publication data on the source card. • And if you use the note’s information, you will have to supply the page number(s) in your paper.

  35. Guidelines for Note Cards • Write a label showing the main idea at the top of the card. • The labels will let you see content at a glance • Number the note card by the source card number GANGS IN OLIVER TWIST 4

  36. Guidelines for Note Cards • Reread the note to make sure you understand it. • Abbreviations and other shortcuts are fine, but be sure you can “translate” them. • Check for clarity now - not later, when you’re trying to draft.

  37. Writing a Thesis Statement • Your thesis statement is a sentence or two telling the main idea of your paper. • Writing a thesis statement is an act of synthesis, reviewing and pulling together all your information to say what the paper is about. • A thesis statement guides you as you write by helping you focus on information that should directly support or develop the thesis. • A thesis statement at the beginning of your writing is preliminary: It may change as you draft and revise the paper.

  38. Making an Outline I. A. 1. a. i. • Note cards actually help accomplish your main tasks of grouping and ordering. • The labels on your note cards allow you to sort notes into stacks by main ideas. • You can go through each stack, deciding which ideas to use or set aside, whether “substacks” are possible, and what order will present the information clearly. • Cards make arranging and rearranging information easier.

  39. Making an Outline • It also helps to make an outline on paper so that you have an overview of your writing plan. • You can make an informal outline for planning; but after your paper is complete, you must make a final outline. • This final formal outline must follow the standard outline format.

  40. Writing Your First Draft Elements of a Research Report

  41. Writing Your First Draft Elements of a Research Report

  42. Guidelines for Using Quotations Quote one or more whole sentences, introducing them in your own words: EXAMPLE: Chief Lyons commented, “But America got it from the Indians. America got the ideas of democracy and freedom and peace here.”

  43. Guidelines for Using Quotations Quote part of a sentence within a sentence of your own. EXAMPLE: Bruce E. Johansen explains that the Great Law spelled out a “complex system of checks and balances” (Forgotten 24).

  44. Guidelines for Using Quotations Quote only a few words (or even just one word) within a sentence of your own. EXAMPLE: These historians do not believe the writers of the Constitution tried to “copy” the Great Law (Johansen, Letter).

  45. Guidelines for Using Quotations Use ellipsis points (three spaced periods) to show you’ve omitted words from a quotation. You may want to alter a quotation to shorten it or make it fit grammatically into your text. If so, you must use ellipsis points for words deleted within a sentence or for any deletion that makes a partial sentence from the source appear to be a complete sentence.

  46. EXAMPLE: Johansen explains that “The retention of internal sovereignty within the individual colonies…closely resembled the Iroquoian system” (Forgotten 71-72).

  47. Guidelines for Using Quotations Set off longer quotations as “blocks.” For quotations of four lines or more, start a new line, indent the entire quotation ten spaces from the left margin, continue to double-space

  48. Documenting Sources • Do credit the source of each quotation (unless it’s very widely known, such as George Bush’s “Read my lips”). • Do credit the source of information from scientific studies, surveys, and polls and other sources of unique or little-known information. (Doing so also lends credibility to sources of information unfamiliar to your audience. You want your audience to accept the information you present.)

  49. Documenting Sources • Do credit any original theory, opinion, or conclusion. You must not present another person’s ideas as your own, even if you are paraphrasing them (That’s plagiarism). • Don’t credit facts that appear in standard reference works or several sources. For example, the names of the nations in the Iroquois League are given in most encyclopedias and do not need documentation.