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IR4099: Writing

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Ryan Beasley

on 11 October 2016

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Transcript of IR4099: Writing

IR4099: Writing the Dissertation
Dissertation Overview
Writing Advice
Dr Ryan K Beasley
Purposes of Literature Reviews
Research Need Legitimacy!
Literature Review: Proves to the Reader that Your Research Contributes to a Broader Scholarly Discussion
Social Enquiry is a Social Thing
All Work Builds On/Springs From Other Work
Key Elements in Most Lit Reviews
Presentation of Theory(ies)
Key Terms and Definitions
Previous Research on Your Topic
Essential Things Clarified
This is the Bulk of a Lit Review
Why should I believe you?
Writing Tips
Best Writers: 50%+ time is editing
Cutting Down from Reading Notes
Combining Sentences
Citation Strings
Editing can = Restructuring
No One 'Right Way'
Writing is an Art
There is no Formula for Dissertations
But All Approaches Involve:
Laying Out; Connecting
Building, Defending, and Critiquing an Argument
Plagiarism & the Dissertation
Academic Misconduct
Consult Section 8, p. 18 for Details
Presentation of Material as One's Own, When it is Not
Includes Extracting Material from the Internet
Presenting Data that has been knowingly falsified
Includes 'Self Plagiarism'
School takes this very seriously; we work hard to identify instances
Can Result in Recommendation that Degree is Not Awarded
If in Doubt, Ask Your Supervisor
'The revised literature review – in whole or in part – can be included in the final dissertation without concern for self-plagiarism' -- P. 18 Module Booklet
Literature Reviews: Drafted!
Module Booklet P. 12
'The purpose of a literature review is to situate the dissertation research question within existing theoretical frameworks and related studies. How have other authors approached the topic? What strengths and weaknesses are contained in such approaches? How can these approaches be enhanced, critiqued or radically overhauled?' -- Module Booklet, p. 9
Today's Session
Plagiarism and the Dissertation
The General Structure of Dissertations
Writing: Tips and Advice
Do not lift material from other module essays that you have written. This needs to be an original work that has not received credit previously.
Things NOT Marked
Did you find what you thought you would find?
If you had a hypothesis that wasn't supported, that's OK!
Draft Chapters
Due 17 February, Noon
MMS & hard copy in Essay Boxes
Not Marked
This is for feedback purposes only
Written Feedback & Oral Feedback
Very Valuable!
Other Structure(s)
Dissertation Philosophy
Integrate Across Sources
Reasoned Argument; Critical Judgment
Apply Theories and Methods
Communicate Effectively in Writing
Work Independently
Typical Dissertation Structure
Thesis Statement
Literature Review
Evidence and Arguments
Captures the Reader's Attention
Situates the Work in the Real World
Situates the Work in the Academic World
Tells Where We are Heading
Usually Ends with the Thesis
Dissertations Dealing Largely with Theory or Thinkers
Chapters might focus on different key arguments
Conclusions: Advice
adapted from Kay Chubbuck, Princeton Writing Program
Synthesize or Summarize the Central Argument
...one last time
Broaden the Discussion
Create 'bookends' with the Introduction
Consider the Implications of your argument (historical; political; scientific; cultural; etc.)
Connect to larger context (other problems or issues perhaps beyond the original scope)
End with Questions Raised by your dissertation
Acknowledge the Limitations of your study
What couldn't be done?
What would be valuable to do next?
Conclusions: Don't s
adapted from Kay Chubbuck, Princeton Writing Program
Don't merely summarize
Avoid 'in conclusion'; 'in summary' ; etc.
Don't apologize for your work
Acknowledging limitations is different
Not the place for platitudes or over-generalisations
'the world will be a better/safer place...'
Don't belabor the same point over and over
That is, don't belabor the same point over and over
Was your Topic the most interesting one?
Did you fundamentally challenge the biggest theories or thinkers?
Alternative Explanations/Approaches
Critical Thinking requires seriously entertaining other viewpoints
Two Types: 'Straw Man' & Strong Man/Person
Avoid 'Straw Man' Arguments
The purpose is to strengthen your argument by standing it against other, good arguments
'Straw Man' Arguments are typically over-simplified
'Realists only focus on power'
'Constructivists deny the importance of material conditions'
Can be done in various places
Lit Review; method; conclusions
Active/Passive Voice
Using passive voice is less effective
Less effectiveness would be achieved by using passive voice
Passive Voice Obscures the agent (subject) of the action
A clear subject enhances clarity
Spotting passive voice
Use of helping verbs ('would be')
'to be' + past participle
when the subject follows the word 'by'
Don't switch voice mid-sentence
'While strong countries frequently employ military threats, it has been found that weak countries do not'
Close with a 'kicker'
The final line should also try to generate interest
General Advice
I frequently write comments like 'this is unclear' or 'this argument is not clearly presented'
I never write 'could you vague this up a bit for me?'
Have someone proof read through your work
Find someone who cares for you enough!
Or is paid to do it...
Good writing is not complex sentences and ostentatious displays of locution
Good writing is presenting complex ideas, simply.
Q & A (throughout)
'I could while away the hours,
consorting with the flowers,
conferring with the Beas-ley
Establishing Credibility
Important; Sophisticated; Original
Method; Citations; Scholarship
Almost all dissertations have some type of or relations to some theory
Discuss which chapter with your Supervisor
Draft Chapters (con't)
Depends on where you are in your research
Fumbled the Lit Review -- Do that one
Got a Tricky Case Study -- Do that one
Already Done and Want to Perfect Your Conclusions?
Yea right
Supervisors like to see their advice/feedback incorporated into the final version!!
Give the most complete draft you can
You don't have to rock the world
Often critiqued for trying to do 'too much'
Writing Clarity: Syntax, Style, Grammar, Etc.
Brief Activity
Set writing goals - establish a diary of what you aim to write by when
Lead with your voice and analysis, not with another scholar’s. (Step back from the lit review and/or historical timeline.)
Structure & Argumentation
Make Grand, Sweeping Claims that aren't backed up by research
Claim that No Theory is Necessary, or that No Method is Necessary
Go beyond description of theory and method; tell the reader why it is important to your study
Just provide a narration. DO create an analytical structure. Story is part of it in IR, but theoretical analysis undertaken with methodological rigor is key.

State thesis early and refer back to it often.
Make every section relate back to main idea.
Know yourself and your writing routine
Create a detailed outline of your dissertation - stick to it but don't be afraid to deviate from it when necessary and as the writing and research process dictate
Stuck?  In doubt?  Ask your supervisor for suggestions and assistance.
Consult the following resources
Strunk & White, Elements of Style
Zinsser, On Writing Well
Write a one sentence summary of your dissertation topic
Write a one sentence summary of your thesis
Titles for each of your chapters
What does each chapter do?
What is its purpose, relative to the Thesis?
'The position you are taking, and why'
It doesn't 'look at'; It proposes or asserts or argues
What is it about?
Using Quotations can enhance credibility
Three common problems & solutions:
2) Quotes coming out of nowhere
From: 'Introducing Quotation in Writing' by Christopher W. Close
Quotation should be introduced to the reader, or put in context
Just because 'legitimacy needs to be established by legal authority' (Smith, 2009: 4) doesn't necessarily tell us how to establish it.
In her examination of war crime trials, Smith argues that 'legitimacy needs to be established by legal authority' (2009: 4), but she does not indicate how to actually establish such authority.
1) Failing to indicate where you got the quotation
Although power is relative, 'it is the single most important factor determining state interactions' in the international system.
3) Misappropriating an Author's ideas
Because 'soft power is increasingly available' it will become 'the most sought after form of power by small states' (Jones, 2006: 35)
This style takes others' arguments and presents them as the writer's ideas, even though they are cited.
Better to introduce them as others' ideas, and then indicate your support of or agreement with them.
Paragraphs help structure tremendously!
Each Paragraph should have a SINGLE topic that it develops
The first sentence is usually the 'topic sentence'
The remaining sentences develop the topic sentence
Developing the Topic Sentence
Use Examples to support it
Use details to elaborate or clarify it
Discuss an incident further
Last Sentence 'clincher'
Restates topic sentence
Paragraph Example
Cheese production has been transformed over the last century from being hand-crafted to being machine-crafted. In Colombia, for example, the cheese merchants association changed its charter in 1976 to embrace safety protocols associated with an increasingly mechanized cheese manufacturing process. Similarly, Ireland passed a series of 'lactose acts' in the mid-1990s designed to facilitate cheese worker compensation claims regarding work-related injuries. Although these acts were initially met with resistance, they have subsequently been embraced by most political parties. Most significantly, perhaps, is the fact that the United Nations High Commissioner for Cheese recently declared hand-crafted cheeses to be exempt from human rights law as it represents an 'antiquated artistic' rather than commercial practice. Mechanization clearly represents the modern approach to the production of cheese.
Paragraph Example
Cheese production has been transformed over the last century from being hand-crafted to being machine-crafted. This can be seen in a variety of countries, ranging from Colombia to Ireland. The production of cheese has also caused a wide variety of environmental problems, such as cow-tipping and milking wrist. Moreover, there are serious human rights issues associated with employment practices in cheese manufacturing, including forced migration, cheese 'sweat shops', and uncompensated bacterial infections. All this clearly demonstrates that cheese production is a complicated and dangerous issue.
In some cases, the Design/Method(s) and Evidence and Arguments could be combined
In some cases, the Literature Review is not a separate thing, but the bulk of the dissertation
The 'method' is the argumentation
Dissertations with lots of 'Data Analysis'
Might spend a bit more time explaining method
Might have a 'Results' section that presents data, rather than an 'evidence & arguments' section
Follow your Supervisor's Advice
Do you/did you agree with your Supervisor?
Independent research requires independent conclusions
If your case study didn't show what you thought it would, that's OK
Strike a balance
Don't 'borrow' quotes, 'use' quotes
Use enough to show you understand their value and how to use them
Don't use so many that it looks like you don't have your own voice
Very Long Quotes should usually be Avoided
Primary sources perhaps
Rephrase into your own words
Good Topics Matter to Somebody
Real People
Great Topics
Welcome Back!
4th Supervisor Consultations
Weeks 1 - 3
Draft Chapters
17 February
More on that in a minute
Final Supervisor Consultations
Weeks 5 - 10
Written Feedback on Draft Chapter
Oral Feedback on Draft Chapter
Dissertations Due -- 25 April
Dissertation Completion Celebration -- TBC
Housekeeping Questions?
Dissertation Marking
Full transcript