THE RESEARCH ESSAY

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THE RESEARCH ESSAY Powered By Docstoc
					      THE RESEARCH
          ESSAY


Every students' guide to success …
What is a research essay?
 The research essay leads you into the works of
  others and asks you to compare their thoughts with
  your own
 Writing a research essay involves going to source
  material and synthesizing what you learn from it with
  your own ideas
 You must find texts on the subject and use them to
  support the topic you have been given to explore
 You must take particular care to narrow your topic
  so you don't get lost in a mountain of information
STEP 1: Topic
 Usually assigned by your teacher
 Usually chosen from a list
 Can be self generated, with your teacher's
  approval
 Not a research question
 Not a thesis statement
STEP 2:
Understanding the topic
 Involves preliminary research and then
  refining of your topic through the careful
  examination of the available resources
 Involves preliminary READING
 This step is crucial in the writing of a research
  essay because once you've settled on a
  general subject area or sketchy topic, you'll
  need to determine if refining is necessary
  (narrowing or broadening)
Step 3:
Refining your topic
 The amount of resources is often a great guide: if
  you are required to use 6 to 8 resources for your
  paper and there are over 500 available, that's a good
  sign to narrow your subject area to a more specific
  topic.
 If you can only find 1 or 2 good resources, this is a
  good indicator that you need to start "broadening"
  your horizons (i.e. changing your focus)
 The popularity of the subject area or topic is your
  second clue: are the resources available? overused?
  commonplace? being used by other students?
 In other words, do your resources tell you very little
  that's new and interesting about your topic?
Step 4:
Create a Research Question
 First, list all of the questions that you'd like
  answered about your topic and then choose
  the best question
 Make sure it's not too broad or too narrow,
  based on your preliminary research
 Your thesis statement is the answer to this
  question
 Vitally important to the flow of your essay
           TOPIC vs.
      RESEARCH QUESTION
TOPICS:
 protests against the Vietnam War
 middle-class women's sexuality during the Jazz Age
 mathematical discoveries of the Incas
 the lasting effects of global warming


RESEARCH QUESTIONS:
 To what extent did working-class Americans participate in
  protests against the Vietnam War?
 To what extent did sexual experimentation increase in the
  1920s?
 To what extent did the mathematical discoveries impact
  Incan culture?
 To what extent is global warming impacting precipitation
  levels in Central Africa?
FORMULATING THE QUESTION
 Start with To what extent …

 Combine with any of the following key words:
       Adaptations
       Characteristics
       Defence
       Importance
       Purpose
       Roles
       Survival
       Value
       Changes
       Conditions
       Function
       Kinds
       Relationship
       Structure
       Types

 Insert the keyword of your topic to create a good focus question
Step 5: Thesis Statement
 A sentence that explicitly identifies the
  purpose of the paper or previews its main
  ideas
 The answer to your research question
 Found in the first paragraph of your essay
 Restated in your concluding paragraph
IMPORTANT THINGS TO KNOW
    ABOUT YOUR THESIS
A thesis statement is an assertion, not a
  statement of fact or an observation

 Fact or observation: People use many lawn
  chemicals.
 Thesis: People are poisoning the
  environment with chemicals merely to keep
  their lawns clean.
Cont'd …
A thesis takes a stand rather than
 announcing a subject

 Announcement: The thesis of this paper is the
  difficulty of solving our environmental problems.
 Thesis: Solving our environmental problems is a
  difficult task because of the lack of commitment
  from corporations, weak government guidelines,
  and feelings of apathy amongst the general
  public.
Cont'd …
A thesis is the main idea, not the title. It
  must be a complete sentence that explains
  in some detail what you expect to write
  about

 Title: Social Security and Old Age.
 Thesis: Continuing changes in the Social
  Security System makes it almost impossible
  to plan intelligently for one's retirement.
Cont'd …
A thesis statement is narrow, rather than
  broad. If the thesis statement is
  sufficiently narrow, it can be fully
  supported

 Broad: The American steel industry has
  many problems.
 Narrow: The American steel industry’s
  primary problem is a lack of funds to renovate
  outdated plants and equipment.
Cont'd …
A thesis statement is specific rather than
  vague or general

 Vague: Hemingway's war stories are very
  good.
 Specific: Hemingway's war stories helped
  create a new prose style by employing
  extensive dialogue, shorter sentences, and
  strong Anglo-Saxon words.
Cont'd …
A thesis statement has one main point rather than
  several main points. More than one point may be
  too difficult for the reader to understand and the
  writer to support

 More than one main point: Stephen Hawking's
  physical disability has not prevented him from
  becoming a world-renowned physicist, and his book
  is the subject of a movie.
 One main point: Stephen Hawking's physical
  disability has not prevented him from becoming a
  world renowned physicist.
Step 6: Research
 Now you can finally develop your arguments based
  on the thesis

Understand and use three types of resources
      A primary source is an original document or account
       that is not about another document or account but
       stands on its own
       A secondary source is one that interprets primary
       sources or are otherwise a step removed
      A tertiary source consists of information which is a
       distillation and collection of primary and secondary
       sources.
Step 7: Begin your research
   Locate a variety of resources
   First-----READ, READ, READ
   Do NOT start with the Internet
   Indexes, Indexes, Indexes
   Evaluate: Is information current?
   Does the source have authority?
   Have you used primary sources?
   Are your secondary sources superior?
   When you identify a good sources, always record source info
   Always take notes systematically (written or electronic)
   Avoid plagiarism by identifying general vs. subject-specific
    knowledge
Step 8: Documentation
 The basic rule Document any specific ideas,
  opinions, and facts that are not your own
 Do not document common knowledge
 For example:
The World Trade Centres collapsed on Sept., 11, 2001
  (common knowledge)

The World Trade Centres collapsed on Sept., 11, 2001,
  was an inside job. (not agreed upon as common knowledge)
 A good rule is if in doubt, document
Wikipedia
is a Tertiary Source
The following is taken directly from Wikipedia:

   Wikipedia can be a great tool for learning information. However, as with all
   sources, not everything in Wikipedia is accurate, comprehensive, or
   unbiased. Many of the general rules of thumb for conducting research
   apply to Wikipedia, including:
    •   Always be wary of any one single source (in any medium–web, print,
        television or radio), or of multiple works that derive from a single source
    •   Where articles have references to external sources (whether online or not)
        read the references and check whether they really do support what the
        article says
    •   In all academic institutions, Wikipedia, along with most encyclopedias, is
        unacceptable as a major source for a research paper. Other encyclopedias,
        such as Britannica, have notable authors working for them and may be
        cited as a secondary source in most cases. For example, Cornell University
        has a guide on how to cite encyclopedias.
    •   However, because of Wikipedia's unique nature, there are also some rules
        for conducting research that are special to Wikipedia, and some general
        rules that do not apply to Wikipedia.
Never cite a tertiary source
Use the tertiary sources during your initial
 stages of research to:
         Familiarize yourself with your topic
         Gain a broad overview
         Guide you to primary and secondary sources
Examples:
    Almanacs;               Directories;
    Bibliographies          Fact books;
    Chronologies;           Guidebooks;
    Dictionaries and        Indexes & abstracts;
    Encyclopedias           Manuals;
                            Textbooks
Processing Information
 This is the most difficult step
 It involves analysis and evaluation
 Interpret: What does it mean?
              Is it relevant?
 Can I use the information? (i.e. Is it legitimate
  evidence?)
 Thesis tweaking may be necessary
 Finally, it requires accurate and appropriate
  documentation through copious and accurate
  notes
MAKE GOOD NOTES
HOW TO TAKE NOTES
 First of all, make sure that you record all necessary
  and appropriate information: author, title, publisher,
  place of publication, volume, span of pages, date.
 Never forget your Bibliography
 Keep a running list of page numbers as you take
  notes, so you can identify the exact location of each
  piece of noted information.
 Note cards are a good way to organize
 Electronic notes are fine but do not copy and paste
 Templates are available in the library for those who
  find note cards too small
STEP 9: THE OUTLINE
   gives you the structure on what you need
    to say and where
    tells you whether your thesis statement will
    work
   Each major outline point is your topic
    sentence for each major paragraph
   Written in point form
   Acts a guide for the first draft
   Includes evidence & sources cited
STEP 10: FIRST DRAFT
 Now, you just start writing
 Includes an introduction, body paragraphs
  with integrated evidence, and a conclusion
 Shouldn't take too long as you've done most
  of the work already
 The first draft is NEVER the final draft
STEP 11: REVISION
 The editing and rewriting process
 Should occur a few days after you've written
  the first draft
 Includes peer editing
 Is NOT proofreading
 This is the time to become your audience and
  your marker and evaluate your work from
  their point of view
STEP 12: PROOFREADING
 deals largely with surface details and
  presentation
 start at "higher order" concerns (how the
  essay and individual paragraphs hold
  together)
 then move down to "lower order" concerns
  (sentences, word choice, mechanics)
 ADD, CUT, REPLACE, MOVE: words,
  sentences, paragraphs, information, citations
STEP 13: DOCUMENTATION
 Embedded citations, footnotes, endnotes
 Bibliography (this is not your Endnotes)
 Consult available sources about MLA, APA, Chicago,
  Turbian by going to www.glenforestlibrary.com and
  click on Research Tools under the Library tab
 Avoid plagiarism at all costs
 Hint: the Bibliography and footnotes/endnotes is the
  easiest thing to mark for a teacher; therefore, it's the
  first place you can lose marks
      STEP 14: WRITING AN
           ABSTRACT
An abstract is a self-contained, short, and powerful
  statement that describes a larger work.
 Components vary according to discipline; an
  abstract of a scientific work often contains the
  scope, purpose, results, and contents of the
  work.
 An abstract is not a review
 Contains key words found in the larger work
 The abstract is an original document rather than
  an excerpted passage.
    THINGS TO INCLUDE IN
      YOUR ABSTRACT …
   Reason for writing:
    What is the importance of the research? Why would a reader be
    interested in the larger work?
   Problem:
    What problem does this work attempt to solve? What is the scope of
    the project? What is the main argument/thesis/claim?
   Methodology:
    An abstract of a scientific work may include specific models or
    approaches used in the larger study. Other abstracts may describe
    the types of evidence used in the research.
   Results:
    Again, an abstract of a scientific work may include specific data that
    indicates the results of the project. Other abstracts may discuss the
    findings in a more general way.
   Implications:
    What changes should be implemented as a result of the findings of
    the work? How does this work add to the body of knowledge on the
    topic?
WHY WRITE AN ABSTRACT?
 You may write an abstract for various
  reasons.
 The two most important are selection and
  indexing.
 Abstracts allow readers who may be
  interested in the longer work to quickly decide
  whether it is worth their time to read it.
 Abstracts should contain keywords and
  phrases that allow for easy searching.
 An example of an Abstract
          (for a research essay on battery life)

Advertisers are always touting more powerful and longer lasting
  batteries, but which batteries really do last longer, and is battery
  life impacted by the speed of the current drain? This essay reveals
  which AA battery maintains its voltage for the longest period of
  time in low, medium, and high current drain devices. The research
  is based on an experiment where the batteries were tested in a CD
  player (low drain device), a flashlight (medium drain device), and a
  camera flash (high drain device) by measuring the battery voltage
  (dependent variable) at different time intervals (independent
  variable) for each of the battery types in each of the devices. My
  thesis states that Energizer will last the longest in all of the
  devices tested. The research results support my thesis by
  showing that the Energizer performs with increasing superiority,
  the higher the current drain of the device. The research also
  reveals that the heavy-duty non-alkaline batteries do not maintain
  their voltage as long as either alkaline battery at any level of
  current drain.
STEP 15: HAND IT IN
 That wasn't so bad, was it?????
      WEBSITES ON HOW TO
        WRITE AN ESSAY
 http://members.tripod.com/~lklivingston/essay/
 http://www.geocities.com/soho/Atrium/1437/
 http://www.english.bham.ac.uk/staff/tom/teaching/ho
    wto/essay.htm
   http://www.utoronto.ca/writing/essay.html
   http://www.aresearchguide.com/styleguides.html
   http://www.aucegypt.edu/academic/writers/home.htm
   http://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-fair-
    projects/project_sample_abstract.shtml

				
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posted:11/5/2012
language:English
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