Suitable Subjects by wanghonghx

VIEWS: 10 PAGES: 41

									Selecting
Suitable
Subjects
 A mini-workshop to teach students to invent suitable topics
for critical essays and to design appealing thesis statements

              Student Support Services
                      Troy University; Troy, AL
                                                                1
         Primary Sources
Reference Department; Instruction, Research,
  and Information Services (IRIS); Cornell
  University Library; Ithaca, NY, USA.

Purdue University online writing lab [OWL] at:
http://owl.english.purdue.edu/workshops/hypert
  ext/ResearchW/assig.html

     The information herein is provided for
   educational, non-commercial purposes only.


                                                 2
        First, Let’s Consider
        the Writing process

•   Invention
•   Collection
•   Organization
•   Drafting
•   Revising
•   Proofreading
             Slide Source: Purdue Online Writing Lab or Power Point   3
   Selecting a Suitable
    Subject requires
• Invention - coming up
  with ideas.
• A subject (topic) starts
  as a writing idea or
  invention.

             Source: Purdue Online Writing Lab or Power Point
                                                                4
                      Subject Selection
                         Objectives
1) To Select an appropriate topic for
   research
2) To Generate questions from a topic
3) To Broaden or Narrow a question
4) To Identify key concepts and vocabularies
   related to a topic
5) To Broaden or Narrow concepts and
   vocabularies related to a topic
Source: http://www.conncoll.edu/is/research101-tutorial/HTML/Topics/topic01.htm
                                                                                  5
         Important Invention Step:
     Analyze the “Rhetorical Situation” –
       Writing/Writer’s basic concerns
                                            Writer -- The inventor and evaluator of
                                                 the invention

                                            Audience – Evaluators of the invention and
                                                sometimes of the inventor

                                        Purpose -- Does or Will your invention appeal
                                             to the targeted or expected audience?

                                        Topic – Subject that is relevant to writer,
                                         purpose and audience

                                            Context – Appropriate selection and use of
                                                vocabulary – Is communication clear?
Source: Purdue Online Writing Lab or Power Point                                       6
Why Analyze the Situation?
• Because . . . You need to be aware that a
  rhetorical situation exists EVERY TIME you
  write.

• Because . . . You need to adapt your topic and
  approach to meet your purpose and
  communicate clearly to your audience.

• Because . . . You do not want to spend your
  writing energy in vain.

                   Source: Purdue Online Writing Lab or Power Point   7
   One of a Writer’s Main Concerns
            must be “Purpose”
– A writer’s reason for inventing, researching
            and presenting a topic

                        Your Purpose will most
                        likely be one of the
                        following:
                    •   to inform
                    •   to persuade
                    •   to educate
                    •   to call to action
                    •   to entertain
                    •   to shock
                  Source: Purdue Online Writing Lab or Power Point   8
        Another of a Writer’s
          Main Concerns
       must be for “Audience”
-- The Ones to whom the topic and writing should appeal


                     Your audience may include:
                     • You
                     • Other people:
                           Instructors
                           Teens
                           College Peers
                           Business Associates
                           The General Public

                      Source: Purdue Online Writing Lab or Power Point   9
 Remember: Invention is the first
   step in the Writing Process:
                Invention
  coming up with a topic and writing ideas

One of the Most Common Invention Techniques
                Brainstorming:
  Getting your ideas on paper so you can give
   yourself the widest range of topics possible

            Source: Purdue Online Writing Lab or Powerpoint   10
  One Brainstorming Technique is

Listing:
                                 Paper Topics
                                Political apathy
                                Animal abuse
                                NFL instant replay
                                Air pollution
  Brainstorming
                                Telemarketing scams
                                Internet censorship
                                NBA salary caps
              Slide Source: Purdue Online Writing Lab or Power Point   11
    Another Brainstorm Approach is
     Clustering: mapping out ideas
                                      Flag
          sportsmanship              Burning                      First
                                   Amendment
                                                                Amendment
                     NBA
 salary
 caps
                                                         Internet censorship
           animal                ME
           abuse

                                                                              Tele-
                                               NFL instant                  marketing
three-party          political                 replay                        scams
  system             apathy
                                                                                      12
                             Slide Source: Purdue Online Writing Lab or Power Point
  Other Places to Find Suitable Subjects
• Casual conversations (online or face-to-face, formal lectures, or
  television.)

• Textbooks. Textbooks introduce a topic and generally include a
  bibliography of books and articles consulted.

• Encyclopedias. A general encyclopedia covers the entire range of
  human knowledge in brief. A search for a basic concept recalls
  every mention of that concept in the encyclopedia, indicating
  different contexts for it and some of the fields of study that have
  explored it.

• Periodical Indexes. Searching a simple term in a general
  periodical database like InfoTracOneFile retrieves articles from
  magazines and journals that include your topic.

• Electronic book reserves (e-books) such as those available at
  the Net Library database http://www.netlibrary.com/

   (Go to Troy University library -- Troy campus -- Remote Services – General – scroll
   down / click on net library.                                                     13
           Specific Guidelines
           for Topic Selection
• Choose a subject that you already know something
  about or that you would like to know more about.

• Choose a subject that will teach you something new
  while you are in the process of explaining it to your
  reader.

• Remember: Do not undervalue the significance of your
  personal experiences, especially when a particular
  experience led to a change in your life or in your outlook
  on life or society.


                                                          14
      Guidelines for Choosing
          a Topic, cont.
Let necessity be your guide:
• Ask yourself: “Is there some product that I need?”
• If so, you may choose to write an essay that
  discusses the different brands available, as well as
  the pros and cons of each. (Comparison/Contrast)

Let Classes you are taking help you choose:
  Ask yourself: “Have I briefly studied some topic in
  one of my classes that I would like to know more
  about?”
                                                        15
          Topic Selection for
           Research Papers
• When assigned the task of writing a research paper,
  it is also important to choose your topic wisely.

• Choosing a topic that may be controversial and
  new may be a good way to gain and keep readers’
  attention.

• The problem with choosing topics that are so new
  is that there may not be enough resources available
  to adequately cover the topic.



                                                    16
           Remember Objective 5:
       “Narrowing a Broad Subject (slide 5)
   After choosing a broad subject area either for an essay or research
   paper, it is necessary to limit the scope of your subject into a more
   manageable topic that can be sufficiently covered in a limited amount
   of time or paper length restrictions.

• For example: Writing about the world of work is too broad to cover
  completely and thoroughly in a 300-500 word essay.

• So . . . it is necessary to decide on one particular aspect of the
  world of work.

Option: Cover the important benefits derived from working while
               attending college; this would be a more
               manageable topic choice.

Option: Choose a particular job that a busy college student might be
             able to work, without sacrificing too much study time.
                                                                       17
    Narrowing a Subject, cont.
In order to narrow a subject into a more manageable topic, a
writer may focus on one or two of these concentrations:
A Time period
     (Ex: World Trade Center Reconstruction Plans Five Years After the Terrorist
              Attacks of 9/11)
A Specific Occupation
     (Ex: Career Growth Projections for Data Communications Coordinators)
A Cultural period
     (Ex: The Living Spirit of Jazz as Depicted in James Baldwin’s Short Fiction,
              “Sonny’s Blues”)
Religion
     (Ex: Should the Government Recognize Scientology as a Legitimate Religion?)
Particular Economic group
     (Ex: Housing Conditions of Women under age 30 in Kuwait After
     Desert Storm)
Specialized discipline
     (Ex: The Current Training Regimen of Delta Airline Flight Attendants)
Special Classification
     (Ex: A Day in the Unique Life of Phylum Cynidaria , the Common Jelly Fish)
                                                                              18
Guidelines for Narrowing, cont.
As the previous examples show, you can narrow
your topic by focusing on a specific aspect such
as:
                       Category
             Specific Example or Incident
                      Gender
                 Region or Locality
                Nationality or Race
                     Age Group
Remember: Although you may have narrowed your subject as
much as you think is possible, it may be necessary to try again,
especially if you find something unexpected that may be of interest.

Subject Selection is a recursive endeavor, as is writing, in general.
                                                                   19
      Narrowing Activity
Look at the broad topics listed below and narrow
each of them by using the guidelines from the
previous slides so that each can be used in a 500 -
1000 word essays:

                       Advertising
                        Animals
                       Automobiles
                         College
                         Crime

(You may need to pause this slide by right clicking the mouse and
    clicking on “pause.” When you are finished with the activity,
           right click the mouse and click on “resume.”)

                                                                    20
             Topics to Avoid
  Topics to avoid when writing essays or research
  papers include the following:

• Topics that appear to be too easy to write about. The
  danger here is that you may soon become bored, and
  therefore, run the risk of not writing a very interesting
  paper

• Topics with resources that are not available or up-to-
  date (ideally within 10 years). Therefore, it is advised
  that you find out which topics have the most readily
  available material.

                                                              21
       Topics to Avoid, cont.
• Topics that limit you to a fixed position before you even start
  your research. Allow your topic to develop into a thesis and do not
  try to make your facts fit your thesis. Manipulating data is unwise
  and leads to falsehoods and flawed logic.

• Topics that have been done-to-death. Only use a topic if you can
  approach the topic from a new perspective.

• Topics that can be summed up in an encyclopedia entry or
  found in any single source. College writers must think critically
  and not just report the obvious.

• Topics chosen out of desperation (at the last minute). Rush jobs
  are usually shoddy and only create anxiety and stress.



                                                                      22
             Conduct a Preliminary
              Bibliography Search
• A good way to find out if a topic has enough information is to conduct
  a preliminary search and then compile a bibliography or annotated
  bibliography.

• An annotated bibliography is a list of citations to books, articles,
  and documents. Each citation is followed by a brief (less than 150
  words) paragraph, referred to as the annotation.

• The purpose of the annotation is to inform the writer or reader of the
  relevance, accuracy, and quality of the sources.

• An annotated bibliography is a good companion to a paper (topic)
  proposal, which instructors sometimes request of students.

      Source: http://www.library.cornell.edu/olinuris/ref/research/skill28.htm#what
                                                                                23
       How to Create an
     Annotated Bibliography
• Write a concise annotation that summarizes
  the central theme and scope of the book or
  article. (Create a short note about source)

• Include one or more sentences that (a)
  evaluate the authority or background of the
  author; (b) comment on the intended audience;
  (c) compare or contrast this work with another
  you have cited; or (d) explain how this work
  illuminates your bibliography topic.

                                                   24
         Sample Annotated Bibliography
APA format for the journal citation:
   Goldschneider, F. K., Waite, L. J., & Witsberger, C. (1986). Non-family living and the erosion of traditional
   family orientations among young adults. American Sociological Review, 51, 541-554.
         The authors, researchers at the Rand Corporation and Brown University, use data from the National
         Longitudinal Surveys of Young Women and Young Men to test their hypothesis that non-family living by
         young adults alters their attitudes, values, plans, and expectations,     moving them away from their belief in
         traditional sex roles. They find their hypothesis strongly supported in young females, while the effects were
         fewer in studies of young males. Increasing the time away from parents before marrying increased
         individualism, self-sufficiency, and changes in attitudes about families. In contrast, an earlier study by
         Williams cited below shows no significant gender differences in sex role attitudes as a result of non-family
         living.

MLA format for the journal citation:
   Goldscheider, Frances Kobrin, Linda J. Waite, and Christina Witsberger. "Non-family Living and the
          Erosion of Traditional Family Orientations Among Young Adults." American Sociological
          Review 51 (1986): 541-554.
          The authors, researchers at the Rand Corporation and Brown University, use data from the National
          Longitudinal Surveys of Young Women and Young Men to test their hypothesis that non-family living by
          young adults alters their attitudes, values, plans, and expectations, moving them away from their belief in
          traditional sex roles. They find their hypothesis strongly supported in young females, while the effects
          were fewer in studies of young males. Increasing the time away from parents before marrying increased
          individualism, self-sufficiency, and changes in attitudes about families. In contrast, an earlier study by
          Williams cited below shows no significant gender differences in sex role attitudes as a result of non-family
          living.

           Directly quoted Source: Reference Department; Instruction, Research, and Information Services (IRIS);
           Cornell University Library; Ithaca, NY, USA -- Updated 20 September 2005 by Michael Engle, Reference
           Librarian; URL: http://www.library.cornell.edu/olinuris/ref/research/permission.html


                                                                                                                     25
                  “Validate”
                 Your Subject :
  Validate means get confirmation that your subject is right for
         your audience and meets the set of standards


• In class, asking questions AND taking notes that
  the instructor gives regarding how the paper will
  be evaluated.

• Re-reading your Writing Assignment for clues
  on good subjects or on ways to narrow the
  subject.
                                                                   26
   After Choosing Subject
After you choose a
        topic,
 you will write an
    Introduction.

 The Introduction
  usually, but not
always includes your
      THESIS
  STATEMENT.
                            27
What is a Thesis Statement?
                • The MOST IMPORTANT
                  SENTENCE in your paper

                • Lets the reader know the main
                  idea of the paper

                • Answers the question: “What am
                  I trying to prove?”

                • Not a factual statement, but a
                  claim that has to be proven
                  throughout the paper

       Slide Source: Purdue Online Writing Lab or Power Point   28
 Role of the thesis statement
• The thesis statement should
  guide your reader through
  your argument.
• The thesis statement is
  generally located in the
  introduction of the paper.
• A thesis statement may also
  be located within the body of
  the paper or in the
  conclusion, depending upon
  the purpose or argument of
  the paper.
                   Slide Source: Purdue Online Writing Lab or Power Point   29
      Hints to the type of Thesis Can be Gained by
        Asking Questions and Getting Answers
So . . . Ask Yourself and Your Instructor
What kind of paper am I supposed to write?

•   An analytical paper -- breaks down a concept into parts and
    presents an evaluation (judgment) of the issue or idea.

    Thesis can reflect your discussion of parts and conclusions you
    have drawn.

•   An expository (explanatory) paper explains something to the
    audience.

    Thesis can indicate that you will explain a concept and convince
    your reader that your explanation is valid.

•   An argumentative paper makes a claim about a topic and justifies
    this claim with specific evidence.

•   Some types of Arguments: policy proposal; an evaluation, a
    cause-and-effect statement, or an interpretation.

    Thesis highlights your opinion on the controversial issue.

EVIDENCE               EVIDENCE                           EVIDENCE
                                                                       30
         Thesis Must Relate to
        The Writing Assignment
Example 1-- Analytical thesis statement:
  An analysis of the college admission process
  reveals two principle problems facing counselors:
  accepting students with high test scores or
  students with strong extracurricular backgrounds.

• Your Writing Responsibility for the Paper is to:
  (1) explain (analyze) the college admission
  process; and
  (2)explain the two problems facing admissions
  counselors

                    Source: Purdue Online Writing Lab or Power Point   31
         Thesis Must Relate to
        The Writing Assignment
• Example 2 -- Expository (explanatory)
  thesis statement:
 The life of the typical college student is
 characterized by time spent studying,
 attending class, and socializing with peers.

• The paragraphs that follow should:
  discuss or prove that students spend their
  time studying, attending class, and
  socializing with peers

                Slide Source: Purdue Online Writing Lab or Power Point 32
           Thesis Must Relate to
          The Writing Assignment
• Example 3 -- Argumentative thesis
  statement:
  High school graduates should be required to take a
  year off to pursue community service projects
  before entering college in order to increase their
  maturity and global awareness.

• The paper that follows should:
  (1) present an argument and;
  (2) give evidence to support the claim that students
       who pursue community projects before entering
       college become (a) more mature; and (b) more
       globally aware.
                     Slide Source: Purdue Online Writing Lab or Power Point 33
      Which thesis statement is the most
      effective for an argument about the
       need for V-chips in television sets?
                             Tell Why?
• Parents, often too busy to watch television shows with their
  families, can monitor their children’s viewing habits with the aid
  of the V-chip.

• To help parents monitor their children’s viewing habits, the V-
  chip should be a required feature for television sets sold in the
  U.S.

• This paper will describe a V-chip and examine the uses of the
  V-chip in American-made television sets.
                                                                            34
                   Slide Source: Purdue Online Writing Lab or Power Point
Best Argumentative Thesis
     Example Answer

      To help parents monitor their
      children’s viewing habits, the V-
      chip should be a required
      feature for television sets sold in
      the U.S.

      Remember: Arguments require statement of
      controversial opinions, not just facts. This one
      is better than others because it Meets the criteria
      for writing a thesis for an Argument.


                                                        35
               Construct a
                “Working
            Thesis Statement”
• Thesis -- one or two sentences stating an
  essay’s focus

• Working Thesis is created first and then revised
  into the Thesis for your essay.

• Working thesis is your opinion as it relates to
  your topic. It helps you develop a working
  outline.

                                                36
                     Working Thesis
Note: A Working Thesis may be revised many times.
  Remember, writing is recursive (writing and rewriting).

Sample Working Thesis:
  In her poem “On the Pulse of Morning,” inaugural poet Maya Angelou
  compels listeners and readers to renew their minds; ironically, the poet
  presents non-human images, some that pre-date the modern English
  language and some that are in danger of extinction, in order to compel a
  contemporary generation to treat the world differently and hopefully better.

(Revised) Thesis:
   Ironically, in her poem “On the Pulse of Morning,” Maya Angelou uses
   ancient and endangered images to inspire readers to renew human
   conscience.

(Revised) Thesis:
   Maya Angelou, in her poem “On the Pulse of Morning,” revisits devastated
   images to alert the world audience to current and potential devastation.


                                                                             37
          Activity 2 -- Create a
            Working Thesis
“Marks” by Linda Pastan
 My husband gives me an A
 for last night's supper,
 an incomplete for my ironing,
 a B plus in bed.
 My son says I am average,
 an average mother, but if
 I put my mind to it
 I could improve.
 My daughter believes
 in Pass/Fail and tells me
 I pass. Wait 'til they learn
 I'm dropping out.

         Right click mouse to pause or resume.
                                                 38
           Activity (cont.)
Revise this Working Thesis –
  The narrator in Linda Pastan’s poem “Marks”
  speaks of her family members’ shared habit
  of evaluating her performances in various
  roles; one might therefore deduce from the
  speaker’s tone that she is planning a secret,
  though perhaps not final departure.

Hint: Your revision could focus on any one of the
  following: tone, figure of speech; metaphor;
  structure (rhythm, line length, line appearance,
  etc.
         Right click mouse to pause or resume.
                                                  39
           Possible Revisions
           of Working Thesis
1.   The word choices that Linda Pastan uses in
     “Marks” cue readers to the speaker’s
     planned, but secret escape from domestic
     life.

2. In her poem “Marks,” Linda Pastan models a
   spirit of non-conformity through her “poetic
   prose” style.


                                                  40
                 Conclusion
• SSS hopes this presentation has given you some useful
  information concerning the task of choosing a subject
  about which to write.

• Please complete a Seminar Evaluation form before you
  leave and stop by SSS to complete an online Academic
  Seminar Summary so that we may document your
  participation.

• Also, please feel free to suggest any other topics that
  you would like to see presented. Phone: 334-670-5985.

• Thank you, and have a great learning experience here
  at Troy University.
                                                         41

								
To top