Writing a Research Paper Intercultural Literature C. R. Valverde, Ed.D.
Research Paper Assignment Identify what the assignment requires: • topic possibilities • number of sources • type of sources (journal, book, Internet) • citation requirements (MLA, APA, Chicago) • presentation requirements (oral or written) • length of paper • due date
Purpose • A research paper presents the results of your investigations on a selected topic. • Based on your own thoughts and the facts and ideas you have gathered from a variety of sources, a research paper is a creation that is uniquely yours. • The experience of gathering, interpreting, and documenting information, developing and organizing ideas and conclusions, and communicating them clearly will prove to be an important and satisfying part of your education.
Research Paper? A research paper… • is an extended essay that presents your own interpretation or evaluation or argument. • analyzes a perspective/position or argues a point. • should attempt to contribute to the field of knowledge on your given topic. • You are contributing to the existing body of knowledge by offering your own unique analysis and insight of the information. • Regardless of the type of research paper you are writing, your finished research paper should present your own thinking backed up by others' ideas and information.
Getting Started • Choose a topic based on requirements. • Ask yourself questions: • What do I know about the topic? • What would I like to learn? • What will others learn from reading my paper? Outlining, clustering, brainstorming, etc. is key to the research process.
What is the difference between an essay and a research paper? When you write an essay, you use everything that you personally know and have thought about a subject. When you write a research paper you make a deliberate attempt to find out what experts know and build upon what you learn.
Two Types of Research Papers • 1) Analytical Research Paper • You break a topic or concept down into its parts in order to inspect and understand it; • You do research to become an expert on a topic so that you can restructure and present the parts of the topic from your own perspective • 2) Argumentative Research Paper • You do research to support your stand on an issue. • The research paper is still analytical, but it uses information as evidence to support its point, much as a lawyer uses evidence to make his case.
Getting Started: Formulate a Question • Decide what question you want to answer with your research. • Formulate a Question – the answer to the question becomes your thesis question. • For example: • How does exercise improve someone’s mental health? • What are the effects of violent video games on elementary school children? • What was the impact of Cubism on early twentieth century culture? • Should elementary schools provide more programming in the arts?
Start by finding background information on your topic: Examples of Research Questions * A Research Question is a statement that identifies the phenomenon to be studied. For example, “What resources are helpful to new and minority drug abuse researchers?” * To develop a strong research question from your ideas, you should ask yourself these things: - Do I know the field and its literature well? - What are the important research questions in my field? - What areas need further exploration? - Could my study fill a gap? Lead to greater understanding? - Has a great deal of research already been conducted in this topic area?
Starting Your Research • Decide what kind of information that you need based on your research assignment. • The information will be determined by your topic and assignment requirements: • Current or historical or both • Biographical information • Criticism and analysis • Statistics • And More
Analytical or Argumentative? • The role of women in Pakistani families. • Racial profiling in US airports. • Women in Pakistani families are feminist by nature. • The need for greater racial sensitivity in US airport security. • The need for animal testing despite the numerous claims of cruelty. • US immigration policies and anti-immigrant political rhetoric.
Thesis Statement Examples • “The process of Intercultural dialogue promotes a collaborative learning environment.” • “An immigrant’s life, divided into the world of poverty and school, demonstrates how these dual roles enhance rather than detract from one another.” • “Contrary to popular belief, the consumption of beef is contradictory to the generally accepted diet of human beings.” • “While discrimination and implicit bias may appear to share superficial similarities, a closer examination reveals many differences concerning beliefs about cultural groups, concepts of difference, and the varying levels of tolerance.”
Doing Research The research process can be exciting or dreadful. This is why it is important to choose a topic you are passionate about; something that intrigues you; one in wanting to learn more about. The research process requires you act like a detective.
Doing Research Read, read, read! Search for what experts are saying about your topic. Find connections between what the experts are saying or finding. Begin to draw conclusions about the body of knowledge you research. One of these conclusions is ultimately your thesis statement.
Research as a Living Thing... It grows and changes as the student explores, interprets, and evaluates sources. Primary and secondary sources are the heart of a research paper, and provide its nourishment.
Decide on the Usefulness of Internet Site Information • Evaluate Internet site: • find source of the site and information • Who is responsible for the website? • Who provided the information? • a person who is known in the field of study. • an organization that is reputable, i.e. American Cancer Society. • note currency of site – when was it last updated? • assess relevance of information to the assignment.
General Organizational Style • Basic Style: Introduction, Body, Conclusion • Basic Content: A research paper contains … • * a clear and concise thesis. • * Credible sources and information • * Appropriate formatting of document (MLA style) • * Works Cited list
Modern Language AssociationStyle Sheet Format FOUNDED IN 1883, THE MODERN LANGUAGE ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA PROVIDES OPPORTUNITIES FOR ITS MEMBERS TO SHARE THEIR SCHOLARLY FINDINGS AND TEACHING EXPERIENCES WITH COLLEAGUES AND TO DISCUSS TRENDS IN THE ACADEMY. MLA MEMBERS HOST AN ANNUAL CONVENTION AND OTHER MEETINGS, WORK WITH RELATED ORGANIZATIONS, AND SUSTAIN ONE OF THE FINEST PUBLISHING PROGRAMS IN THE HUMANITIES. FOR OVER A HUNDRED YEARS, MEMBERS HAVE WORKED TO STRENGTHEN THE STUDY AND TEACHING OF LANGUAGE AND LITERATURE.
Why is it important? • MLA Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing is published and utilized widely across the the world. • Higher education institutions have adopted its guidelines as the standard for scholarly and professional writing.
MLA guidelines include… • How to format documents appropriately; • How to cite authors and works appropriately; • How to write an appropriate bibliography format (Works Cited list)
What is an in-text parenthetical citation? • MLA requires that you cite the quotations, summaries, paraphrases, and other material used from sources within parenthesis typically placed at the end of the sentence in which the quoted or paraphrased material appears. • These citations correspond to the full bibliographic entries found in a list of references at the end of the paper.
Why is an in-text citation so important? • It avoids plagiarism. • Plagiarism – using any information that is not common knowledge from any source and not giving proper credit through citation. • If the ideas and information are not yours, don’t write as if they are. Give credit where credit is due. • Plagiarism is a high-risk endeavor. It can lead to… • Failure of the assignment • Note on academic records • Expulsion (most institutions) • Embarrassment and regret
Examples of In-text Parenthetical Citations Single author named in parentheses. • The tendency to come to terms with difficult experiences is referred to as a "purification process" whereby "threatening or painful dissonances are warded off to preserve intact a clear and articulated image of oneself and one’s place in the world" (Sennett 11). Single author named in a signal phrase. • Social historian Richard Sennett names the tendency to come to terms with difficult experiences a "purification process" whereby "threatening or painful dissonances are warded off to preserve intact a clear and articulated image of oneself and one’s place in the world" (11). Two or more authors. • Certain literacy theorists have gone so far as to declare that "the most significant elements of human culture are undoubtedly channeled through words, and reside in the particular range of meanings and attitudes which members of any society attach to their verbal symbols" (Goody and Watt 323). Corporate author (organization, association, etc.). The federal government has funded research concerning consumer protection and consumer transactions with online pharmacies (Food and Drug Administration 125). Works with no author. Several critics of the concept of the transparent society ask if a large society would be able to handle the complete loss of privacy ("Surveillance Society"115).
In-text Parenthetical Citations cont. Work found in an anthology or edited collection. • For an essay, short story, or other document included in an anthology or edited collection, use the name of the author of the work, not the editor of the anthology or collection, but use the page numbers from the anthology or collection. • Ex: Lawrence Rosenfield analyzes the way in which New York’s Central Park held a socializing function for nineteenth-century residents similar to that of traditional republican civic oratory (222). Bible passage. • Unfortunately, the president could not recall the truism that "Wisdom is a fountain to one who has it, but folly is the punishment of fools" (New Oxford Annotated Bible, Prov. 20-22). Secondary source of a quotation (someone quoted within the text of another author). • As Erickson reminds us, the early psychoanalysts focused on a single objective: "introspective honesty in the service of self enlightenment" (qtd. in Weiland 42). Web page. • Website: Abraham Lincoln's birthplace was designated as a National Historical Site in 1959 (National Park Service). • Internet Article w/ no page number): A study by the Rand Corporation indicated a “growing hysteria due to economic turmoil” (“Economic Crisis”). Note: • Internet citations follow the style of printed works. Personal or corporate author and page number should be given if they exist on the website. Have more questions? For information on electronic sources, try the MLA's homepage or Online! A Reference Guide to Using Internet Sources.
Caution: How much should I quote? • If more than 20% of your paper are quotes, which is someone’s exact words, then that’s too much! • You want your paper to contain your writing. • Too many quotes in a paper take away from the writer’s voice.
Works Cited list (aka Bibliography) • A list of references that demonstrates the source of where you obtained your information. • Demonstrates evidence of your research; • Allows readers to locate the original documents; • Brings credibility to your work; • Helps avoid plagiarism.
Preparing the Final Version of Your Research Paper • Revise draft based on comments from your instructor and/or tutor • Check cited sources for accuracy and MLA Style or another style format. • Proof read your work – don’t forget the Spell and Grammar check in Microsoft Word. • Add works cited page. • Add title page.
General Tips The following information will guide you through the research paper writing process. Never hesitate to ask questions.
Keep in mind… • Argumentative research papers are usually persuasive by nature, therefore… • Express your argument clearly and convincingly; • Know your audience; • Understand the other point of view: strengths and weaknesses; • Examine the weaknesses of your own arguments; • All of your arguments must be backed up with reliable and trustworthy evidence.
Basic format to convey an Argument • Here is a problem • It’s an interesting problem • It’s an unsolved problem • Here is my idea • My idea works (details, data) • Here’s how my idea compares to other people’s approaches. • Here's why my idea is important to the field • Viola! A Research Paper
Writing the Introduction • Purpose: to acquaint the reader with the rationale behind your work, with the intention of defending it. • Describe the importance (significance) of the study - why was this worth doing in the first place? • Provide a broad context. • Provide a rationale. State your specific hypothesis(es) or objective(s), and describe the reasoning that led you to select them. • Style: • Describe the problem • State your point (thesis)...and that is all
Sample Introductions • Example 1: Teenagers in many American cities have been involved in more gangs in the last five years than ever before. These gangs of teens have been committing a lot of violent crimes. The victims of these crimes are both gang members and people outside of gangs. Many people do not want to travel to areas in our cities because of the danger from this problem. For this terrible situation to stop, it is going to take a combined effort on the part of many people. Excellent, supervised after-school programs, more jobs available for teens, and healthy family relationships will go a long way towards ending this crisis in our society. • Example 2: During the Middle Ages in Europe and the Middle East there was much armed conflict between Christians and Muslims. Christians called these conflicts the Crusades because they were fighting under the sign of the cross to save the holy lands of the Bible from being desecrated by non-Christians. However, the true reason for fighting for these lands was less than holy. It was mainly a desire for economic gain that prompted the Christian leaders to send soldiers to fight in the Holy Land.
Elements of an Introduction & Thesis Statement… * Despite the many cultural, historical, and social implications of tatooing, the art form continues to thrive in contemporary society. * While tatooing continues to thrive across cultures in contemporary society, the art form still carries many negative social and cultural implications.
Another example… Forms of bullying (i.e., cyber) High profile events Anti-bullying movements * Bullying has become an issue of great concern in society today, however, many of the attempts to prevent it continue to face many social and legal challenges. * While bullying is a part of a greater social problem, ill-prepared schools are inadequately left with the tremendous responsibility to address this concern.
Building the Body of your Paper Read and read more! Find credible sources that support your research topic. Begin to synthesize the information (develop your perspective on the issue) Decide which quotes and sources best suit your thesis. Beware of plagiarism; use parenthetical citations; paraphrasing vs. summarizing.
Paraphrase vs. Summary • A paraphrase is your “translation” of the text into your own words. (Unlike a summary, which is shorter than the text, a paraphrase is about the same length). • A summary condenses the ideas of a text into a briefer version. (Unlike a paraphrase, which is about as long as the text, a summary is shorter in length). • If you paraphrase or summarize a specific concept or idea from your research, you must cite the source with a parenthetical citation after the last sentence of your paraphrase: Ex: “… continues to affect society (“US Dept of Education”). • You only need to cite paraphrasing of unique ideas found in your research. If the idea, fact, claim, or statistic is not yours, you need to cite it! • If the information is generally considered common knowledge, you don't have to cite it.
Writing Tips • Use formal prose (avoid “I”) • Stay focused on the research topic and thesis of the paper; • Use paragraphs to separate each important point; • Indent the first line of each paragraph; • Present your points in logical order; • Use present tense to report well accepted facts - for example, 'the statistics show that'; ‘the literature demonstrates that’; (Published literature is considered timeless so use the present tense when referring to it) ‘the author states that…’ • Use past tense to describe specific results - for example, ‘the results of the study showed that’; ‘a review of the survey revealed that’; • Avoid informal wording; don't address the reader directly; don't use jargon, slang terms, or exaggerated language.
When to Use First Person in Academic Writing. • "I", "we," "me," "us," "my," and "our” • Overly strict rules about writing can prevent us, as writers, from being flexible enough to learn to adapt to the writing styles of different fields, ranging from the sciences to the humanities, and different kinds of writing projects, ranging from reviews to research. • When it suits your purpose as a scholar, you will probably need to break some of the old rules, particularly the rules that prohibit first person pronouns and personal experience. (Some instructors disagree, so it is a good idea to ask directly) • Avoid “I” when analyzing an objective principle or data (Child Labor, Propaganda, High School Drug Use, Diamond Mining, etc.) • Use “I” when your personal experience is valuable to your claim, argument, or research topic. • In many cases, using the first person pronoun can improve your writing, by offering the following benefits: • Assertiveness – to emphasize your unique perspective or argument • Clarity – to avoid awkward constructions and vagueness • Positioning yourself in the essay – to claim some kind of authority over your topic
Common Errors in Student Research Papers • Plagiarizing Ideas that are not yours. Give credit when necessary. • Incomplete sentences, redundant phrases, obvious misspellings – Proofread! • Do not define terms that are well known to the intended reader. • When you affect a situation, you have an effect on it. • 'Affect' is a verb: “Gender discrimination affects child development.” • 'Effect' is a noun. “The effect of gender discrimination is worrisome to child psychologists.” • Improper Capitalization (names, titles, etc.) • In the USA we put commas and periods before the quotation mark, not after it. • “This is a correct example.” not “This is an incorrect example”.
Note-taking • It is easy to lose source information in the beginning stages of your research. • Take notes of research and sources. • Suggestion: Create a word document to save URL’s of different sites you visited;
Direct Quotations • Directly quoting means typing one or two sentences verbatim from a source. • Set up direct quotations with phrases of your own to guide your flow of discussion. • Use quotation marks (“ ”) to set off directly quoted material from your own words, and parenthetically document the work at the end of the sentence, using MLA format. • Avoid ‘dropped quotations;’ randomly placed without context or signifiers introducing the quote.
Direct Quotation Example • EXAMPLE: Reflecting upon the role of books in shaping her childhood among missionaries, Ruth Bell Graham writes, “I was born and raised in China, … and books were just a part of our life” (“Literary Experiences”). • Tips: Be sure to use the proper research citation format for parenthetical documentation. • Use ellipses sparingly in omitting quoted material: Readers will get suspicious if it looks like you omitted a lot of material. • If you need to quote three or more sentences, use blocked quotation format, but don’t use blocked quotations just to “pad” or lengthen a paper.
Quotation No-nos • NO dropped quotations or quoting without proper context presented by your own thoughtful phrasing. • NO traffic‐jam quoting or choo‐choo train quoting where several direct quotations are strung together, one after another, without discussion.