VIEWS: 3 PAGES: 5 POSTED ON: 9/30/2012
Research Papers Considering the Rhetorical Moment When you write a research paper, you’ll want to begin by considering the rhetorical moment that you’ve been placed in and how that affects what you can and will write about in your paper. The questions that you ask and the rhetorical decisions that you make with regard to the context and subject matter should be governed by a sense of kairos. Kairos is a Greek concept meaning “timeliness” and “suiting the word to the occasion.” Do some freewriting about the rhetorical moment that you find yourself in with this assignment. What topics and ideas do you think are particularly well suited to this assignment and to the time and place where you are right now? How would you characterize and describe the rhetorical moment that you’re in? How do you think it will shape your creation of a research paper? Getting Motivated to Find a Subject Get motivated by responding in writing to the following questions about a possible research subject. 1. What subjects are you passionate about or would you like to learn more about? Why do you care about these subjects? (List at least three.) 2. How did you learn to care about them? 3. What subjects do you need to know more about? (List at least three.) 4. How do you know you need to know more about these subjects? Analyzing Subjects Take notes as you ponder the following questions for each potential subject you wrote about. The Rhetorical Situation 1. What is going on—on campus, in your community, or in the world—that relates to these subjects? 2. What purpose will you ultimately have in communicating your research? Will you teach readers? Persuade them? Delight them? 3. What period of time do you have to complete the project? 4. How long should your final project be? Analyze the Subject 5. Given the rhetorical situation, is your subject too large and unwieldy? (Be careful to focus. Good writers can make sharp ideas go a long way.) 6. Is your subject too narrow? Or is it irrelevant to the assignment? (For instance, why you like the color blue may be personally interesting, but you’ll find it hard to prove that you do or convince anyone else that learning more about why you do is worth the effort.) 7. Is this subject something that you can find information about—more than what is commonly known? (For example, many book writers have tried to explain the Kennedy assassination but at some point run up against the fact that much of the information is still protected in the National Archives or otherwise not easily retrieved. In the film JFK, director Oliver Stone had to invent a character, X, who would reveal top-secret information.) 8. Will your subject interest your readers and fulfill the assignment? (For instance, how sneakers are made in Asia by children who are paid meager wages in horrible working conditions might just be a subject that you can learn more about and that will be interesting to sneaker-owners and those concerned about the exploitation of children.) You can choose one of the three potential subjects from “Finding a Subject” to work on now, or take more time to think about it. Remember that your research subject should interest you because you will be working on it in depth and perhaps for quite some time. Exploring Your Subject As you refine your subject, use these strategies to help you learn more about it. 1. Discuss possible topics with your instructor, classmates, friends, family, or other interested parties. 2. If you know people who are knowledgeable about your subject, ask them if they know of any hot issues that you could explore. 3. Do Web and/or library searches for popular news articles about your subject. 4. Do Web searches using search engines such as Google for Web pages about your topic. 5. Look through Internet discussion groups such as Yahoo! Groups, located at http://groups.yahoo.com or L-Soft’s Catalist at http://www.lsoft.com/catalist.html to see if there are any debates or discussions related to your subject. 6. Use a search engine such as the Google Glossary on terms or phrases. Go to http://www.google.com, then in the search box enter define:yourterm Google will return a list of definitions drawn from reliable websites and provide links to those sites where you can learn more about the terms and phrases you’re looking for. Let serendipity guide you early in the process. Be open to new discoveries. 7. Browse the library or a bookstore for magazines, newspapers, or books related to your topic. Focusing Your Subject As you think about your approach to your research topic, consider these questions, which will help you focus your subject. Brainstorm. What do people think about it? Why? How long has this topic been an issue in society? How does it affect peoples’ lives? Review texts that discuss your topic. What has already been said? What solutions are there to problems surrounding your topic? Have any solutions been tried that failed? Are people satisfied with the state of your issue/topic? Consider the elements of your issue. How long has it been an issue? Who is affected? Where and when does it occur? Does it primarily affect a certain group of people? Is money involved in your issue? How? Is money a problem or is money a possible solution to a problem? Compile ideas about problems and solutions. What have you discovered so far about your issue? Jot down answers. Consider your topic once again: What new questions do you have in light of your recent discoveries about your topic? Rethink whether the problem is important and your response is realistic. Is this problem significant? Is your solution feasible? Who will fund your solution if it needs financial support? Would you pay extra taxes for the solution? Would others? Where and when are the benefits going to emerge? Who will be affected primarily if your problem is solved? Are there any secondary benefits? At this point you may wish to review some brief information on conducting research in the disciplines. If you are working in the humanities, see 9j; the social sciences, see 9k; the sciences, see 9l. Developing a Research Hypothesis Once you have figured out what subject you want to research, begin considering the various elements or aspects of that subject. Look for new angles, trends, and ideas concerning your subject. It may help to consider what local perspectives there may be on your subject or how your subject affects you, your family, and/or your social group. Move toward discovering a unique angle or perspective that offers you a problem to solve or an opportunity to analyze your subject in a new light. This may sound time- consuming, but it makes common sense: You want to develop a research subject that is focused enough to be manageable in the limited time you are offered. You also want to find a way of writing something fresh about your subject. Considering the Logistics of Potential Research Consider the logistics of your potential research. Think about how you will handle the research, from finding information and equipment, to living with your topic, to traveling to locate information. Is the subject currently in the news? Which media are covering this topic the most? Is the topic so recent that finding sources might be difficult? Where will I find the most complete information about the topic? How will I initially determine the best sources so that I can learn more? Has this topic been selected by half the class already? Will I have to compete with others for materials? If the subject includes extensive visual elements (such as modern art or film), can I find the equipment necessary to view and analyze it? Do I need access to a DVD player or a microfiche machine? Can I find and use this equipment? Will I need to conduct field research to find more information? Generating Keywords for Your Subject Generate a list of ten keywords or phrases about your topic. Then do some quick searches on the keywords, either in the library or using Web search engines, to determine whether they generate any specific and relevant information for your topic. Keeping a Research Journal A research journal is a place to keep track of all the places you have searched, the information and sources you have found (and how to find them again), and your thoughts about your research process. How to Keep a Research Journal Keep a record. Sometimes research will cause you to go to different locations, to different libraries, to speak with different people. Keep a record of the dates and places you went. What you do on Monday, which you think you will easily remember, may be forgotten by Thursday. Take a few minutes to record your steps so you will not have to retrace your steps later. Track your evolving understanding. Record the ways that your research process changes your understanding of your subject and your ideas about its key terms. You could include running notes under each term, for example, devoting a page to each term. Or use a double-entry notebook. Divide the page in half, with factual information included on the left side, and running notes and commentary on the right. Write down quotations and ideas that intrigue you on 3” x 5” index cards, which are easy to sort. (See 9g.) With portable computers, the process can be streamlined with new programs that assist with note-taking and sorting. Microsoft’s Outlook has a useful Note function, and standalone programs are available. On most Apple computers, you’ll find “Stickies.” For Windows-based machines Post-It Notes offers a free “Lite” version of “Post-It Software Notes” at http://www.3m.com/market/office/postit/com_prod/psnotes/index.html Record complete publication information. Always note precise publication information about each work that you examine. See 9g. Creating a Working Annotated Bibliography As you collect information from a variety of sources, record all the bibliographic information, as described on pages 107 and 108. One useful strategy is to incorporate a short summary of the work after the bibliographical information. Normally, annotations are brief; try to keep an article or book chapter’s summary to a paragraph or so. Describe and evaluate the potential of the source in your annotation: Make your annotations descriptive. Information that might not seem relevant early on may become critical later, so try to relay accurately the content and scope of the work. Provide an analysis of the relevance and the quality of the source you are annotating for your research project. Discuss how it might fit into your work. Don’t focus on your emotional responses to the reading, for instance, don’t write that the article “makes [you] angry.” However, do make the annotation serve your purposes. You are likely to review, skim, and read dozens, if not a hundred, sources. Your annotated bibliography provides you with a descriptive trail back into areas of your research that you will need later. Using Online Research Strategies Consult chapter 10 for strategies for conducting online research effectively. Using Library and Field Research Strategies Consult chapter 11, which discusses strategies for conducting research at the library and in the field. Using Information Effectively Consult chapter 12, “Using Sources Ethically,” which provides information on how to summarize, paraphrase, and quote from your sources in rhetorically effective ways. The chapter also contrasts ethical and unethical uses of sources. Documenting Sources Every source whose ideas or words you end up using in your research paper must be documented so that readers know where the information came from. Depending on the field you are studying, you may use different systems of documentation. In composition and other humanities courses, you will probably cite your sources according to the Modern Language Association (MLA) style (see chapter 13) or perhaps the Chicago Manual of Style (CMS) system (see chapter 15). In the social sciences you’ll likely use the American Psychological Association system (APA); see chapter 14. In the sciences you may use the Council of Science Editors style (CSE); see chapter 16. If you are using MLA or APA style but have numerous online sources, or if you will be posting your work online, you may want to consider using the Columbia Guide to Online Style (CGOS) system; see chapter 17. It would be smart to ask your instructor which documentation style you should be using.
Pages to are hidden for
"Research Papers - Download as DOC"Please download to view full document