Developed by Jeniffer Viscarra The Research Paper Brought to you by your University Learning Center UP 247 / AC I 160
Intro to the 5-Week Plan • What is a Research Paper • Finding a Topic – Week 1 • Focusing the Research – Week 2 • Note-taking and Pre-writing – Week 3 • Drafting the paper – Week 4 • Revising – Week 5 • Preparing the Final Manuscript – Week 5
What is a Research Paper? Certainly not an occasion to panic • It is not a summary, a report, a loose collection of anecdotal memories, or a patchwork of data pulled from several books. • It is a PROCESS • The final product will be a unique and appropriate integration of evidence you have located in addition to personal insights.
Finding a Topicweek 1 • Make sure you understand the assignment • Choose something that interests you • You may want to try free- writing, brainstorming, and/or clustering to map out your possible perspective The sooner you choose a topic, the sooner you can get started, and the less stressed you’ll be
Focusing Your ResearchWeek 2 • Survey your sources to establish the scope of your project. • Get a feel for what experts have to say • This will allow you to examine available resources--even if you're familiar with the general subject area --to see whether delving further into the topic will prove to be practical and original.
Note-taking and PrewritingWeek 3 • This is the most important step in your process. No good paper can come from poor notes and underdeveloped ideas. • Paraphrasing is worth the extra effort. You record critical observations made in sources and connect purpose and evidence while processing the information rather than just copying it. • To process the information, one must understand it!!
More on Note-Taking • Quoting is not a space filler !! • Quote only to capture something unique in an original source • Quote fairly and within context • Paraphrase as much as possible to preserve your voice and rhythm.
Drafting the PaperWeek 4 • Choosing a Thesis or a Research Question • Choose a topicworth arguing about or exploring. This means constructing a thesis statement or research question about a problem still debatable, controversial, or up in the air. • Arguing that drinking and driving is dangerous-- while abundant evidence supports that view –wouldn’t really work. • Why would anybody care? You wouldn't persuade your reader of anything, and therefore, all your work would be fairly meaningless.
More on Drafting • Developing an Argument • Choose your writing voice and be consistent with it (formal, humorous, etc). • Make an effort to appeal to emotion and reason. • If you must choose one, ALWAYS choose reason. • Emotional tugs are just that – tugs, not anything on which you can LOGICALLY hinge an argument.
Yet More on Drafting Your first draft should be a relatively painless and quick process provided that: • You have taken good notes. • You have an organized plan other than the one in your head (like an outline or a table). • You have chosen a working thesis statement. • You DO NOT edit as you write (leave this for the revision stage).
Drafting Continued • Cite your sources as you go along • MLA (author page) • APA (author, year) • You don’t want to have to hunt through all your sources looking for the quote you already used. • Check the credibility of your internet sources (avoid .coms and personal or biased sites). • Consult style manual or handbook
Revising Week 5 • As you or a second reader evaluates your draft, ask: • Is my purpose clear? • Did I stay on topic? • Are my arguments convincing? • Do I address the opposing point of view? • Do body paragraphs relate to my thesis? • Does the order of paragraphs make sense? • Are my citations relevant (not fillers) and supported (not tacked on)? • Do my sources overpower my own voice? • Are there any flaws in my evidence? • Is the paper interesting?
Revision Continued • Allow yourself time to do revisions. • Don’t get so attached to your draft that you can’t bring yourself to make significant changes. • Revisit your thesis often for tweaking. • It’s OK to throw out irrelevant material even if you worked hard on it. That’s part of the PROCESS!!
Comments for Procrastinators • As all writers know, good writing is never finished; it is only due. • If you do not follow the process because you think you work best in those three hours before the paper is due, then you are turning in a rough draft! • If you are tight on time, condense the steps (don’t skip any!).
Preparing the Final Manuscript Week 5 • Double-check all assignment requirements. • Have you done the assignment the professor wants? • Spend time on formal guidelines: • MLA/APA • Margins • Works Cited/References – tedious but important • Headers • Title Page • Tables, Charts, Illustrations
Summary • A research paper is an integration of your ideas and your sources • Choose an interesting and debatable topic • Paraphrase in note-taking • Don’t over-quote or over-cite (25% limit) • Be careful with internet sources • Compose a draft with purpose and reader in mind • Use a style manual and handbook
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Sources Used • Sarah Hamid. “Writing a Research Paper.” Perdue On-line. 5 May 2003. http://owl.english.purdue.edu/workshops/hypertext/ResearchW/ • Sam McCool. “The Research Paper.” Writing Lab. 5 May 2003. http://w3.fiu.edu/ulc/Power%20Point/The_Research_Paper.ppt