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Writing Research Papers

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Transcript of Writing Research Papers

Writing Research Papers
The University Writing Center Presents
The University Writing Center
The Learning Commons at PCL
M-Th 10-7; F 10-4
Sun 1-7
512-471-6222
The University Writing Center
Anyone enrolled in a UT class
One-on-one expert writing help
45-minute personalized consultations
Any piece of writing at any stage
Non-directive
Non-evaluative
Diagnostic outside readers
Questions?

Comments?

Concerns?

Thanks!
University Writing Center
PCL 2.330 - 512-471-6222 - uwc.utexas.edu
Created by Elizabeth Goins and Tom Lindsay
Last updated by Tom Lindsay, September 2014
Information, writing help, teaching resources, and
online appointment-scheduling
available at:
uwc.utexas.edu
Writing in
Process
Preparation
Creation
Revision
Individual
Non-linear
Flexibile
Lengthy
Bank of stock frames:
Assess the assignment.
What is the prompt asking me to do?
Who is my audience?
What will they need or expect?
What is the required format and style?
Have I been given a specific question, or set of questions, to answer?
Or do I need to develop my own research question? If so, what guidelines have I been given?
"Would UT Austin benefit if more students utilized public transportation?"
Tips for composing introductions:
Thesis statements typically come at the end of the introduction.
Thesis statements can be more than one sentence.
Your readers should be able to read your thesis and say to themselves, "This paper will show, argue, explore, etc., X, Y, and Z.
Tips for composing theses:
Body Paragraphs
The claim of a paragraph typically comes in the paragraph's topic sentence or at the end of its analysis.
Evidence comes in many forms: quotes, paraphrasing, rich description, data, etc.
Don't allow your sources to drown out your voice: balance quotes and paraphrases; evidence and analysis.
If your thesis is a road map, use transitions as road signs.
Always remember:
Tips for composing body paragraphs:
Conclusion
Restate and recape without sounding repetative.
Use different words.
Summarize and synthesize your claims to demonstrate how they work together to support your thesis.
Tips for composing conclusions:
When answering the "So what?" question, consider questions such as...
Your thesis will probably change in form and/or focus as you go through the creation process.
Writers often free-write or brainstorm socially before arriving at a thesis and/or a list of supporting claims.
Writers also free-write and brainstorm socially in order to overcome writer's block.
Some writers find it difficult to design organizational structures before composing drafts.
These writers often reverse the process, composing very rough drafts that they then re-organize.
Writers often write their introductions and conclusions last.
When
Papers,
Creating
Be Flexibile!
Revision
Responding to self assessment and feedback will prompt you to...
And then to...
Return to an earlier stage in the writing process, and
Rethink your audience,
Draft a new thesis statement,
Generate new claims,
Find different evidence, etc.
Cut content,
Generate new content,
Rearrange content,
Rewrite content, etc.
Return to an earlier stage of the writing process and do things such as...
After you finish revising, edit your work.
Ease the reader in by providing necessary background or context.
Hook the reader with something relevant and striking, e.g. statistics, an anecdote, etc.
Avoid huge generalizations, e.g. "Since the founding of America..."
Creation
Does my thesis connect with the themes of the class?
Is my thesis relevant to wider societal trends or phenomena?
Does my analysis provide new insight?
Does my research suggest new areas for inquiry?
Creation
No writer can create a fully coherent and polished draft in one sitting. So, start early, work often (if only for brief periods of time), and plan to take breaks.
What range of topics can I choose from?
Is my topic appropriate for the assignment and for the class?
Can I cover this topic, or an aspect of it, within the required page-length or word count?
claim, evidence, analysis.
Integrating Textual Evidence
Paraphrase
Direct quotations
Summary
Condense the whole source or a significant part of it.
Provide broad context for paraphrases and direct quotations.
Offer concise descriptions of ideas or claims from your sources.
Integrate evidence without disrupting the flow of your own prose.
Preserve striking language or imagery.
Call attention to an authoritative argument or unique point of view.
Discarded material:
Develop a Topic.
What kinds of sources should I use?
What kinds of credibility should these sources have?
What am I noticing as I research? (trends, connections, unanswered questions, undeveloped ideas, etc.)
How can I articulate what I'm noticing? (brainstorm, free-write, talk it out, etc.)
Do Preliminary Research
Develop a Research Question
If you've been given the choice,
What kind of research question should I develop?
Should it be a question that prompts a non-contestable answer, one that requires objective reporting?
Some research papers require you to objectively report on something, and/or to summarize other sources in order to demonstrate your knowledge of a topic. "What were some of the causes of the USA's Civil War?"
Some research papers require you to synthesize and analyze material from other sources in order to support an original, contestable argument. "Has Affirmative Action benefited USA colleges and universities?"
If you've been given the choice,
Or should it be a question that prompts a contestable answer, an argument that reasonable people might disagree with?
As you research, outline, or compose initial drafts...
Articulate the primary answers to your research question in
main claims
.
In particular, UT will save money on infrastructure repairs and maintenance if more students utilize public transportation.
Synthesize outside research:
Sign-post and transition:
Make sub-arguments:
Research at other major universities has already demonstrated that public transportation use can...
Public transportation will have enormous economic and social benefits for UT, but the greatest benefits by far will in fact be environmental.
While analysis is often the most important part of a research paper, some papers or individual paragraphs won't need it.

Paragraphs that won't need any or much analysis might be devoted to
summarizing
outside source material or
reporting
relevant background or context.

Careful, though! Even these kinds of body paragraphs should still be organized around discrete main claims.
TIPS:
FIRST:
Assess the assignment.
What kind of research question do I need to develop?
Or, put another way, what am I using my research for?
Objective reporting and summary?
Making an original and contestable argument?
Both?
SECOND:
Develop a topic and do preliminary research
If you can, pick a topic of interest.

Think and read broadly around that topic. Talk it out with someone!

Consider:

What questions could I research further?


Be Sensitive to Discipline-Specific Expectations!
Be Selective and Strategic!
Integrating Evidence
Citation Style - MLA, APA, Chicago, AP, etc.
Rich Description
Always
cite all forms of evidence, whether textual or non-textual.
Use style guides:
uwc.utexas.edu/handouts
or
owl.english.purdue.edu/owl
.
Textual descriptions of visuals, events, performances, data, etc.
Use language that is suited to your audience and discipline.
Once you've settled on your thesis,
write or re-write your research paper to fully expound it.
Introduction
Conclusion
TIP:
There are many ways to answer the "so what?" question. Ask your instructor, and think: Does my thesis relate to the themes of the class? Have I provided new insight on my topic? What does my research suggest for the rest of the writers interested in my topic? How do my ideas connect to the "they say"? Etc.

Some Final Tips:
See more detailed advice on
introductions
,
body paragraphs
,
conclusions
,
transitions
,
citation
,
revising
,
editing
, and more at:
uwc.utexas.edu/handouts owl.english.purdue.edu/owl
&
UWC Consultants
can help you at any stage. Make an appointment at:
uwc.utexas.edu/appointments
After you've revised, take time to
edit
!
Print the paper. Read it out loud. Have a friend read it out loud. Repeat.
TIPS:
Moving from
topic
to
question
to
thesis
is often not a quick or smooth process.

Reading, researching, and writing are forms of
cognition
and modes of
learning
.

Expect that your topic, question, or thesis might
change as you learn
more about your topic.
Public transportation on university campuses.
Body Paragraphs
Introduce source material in your own prose by referencing source title and/or author.
In some disciplines, writers don't use them. They reference sources only in citations.
accepts
acknowledges
affirms
alleges
asserts
argues
believes
challenges
charges
claims
concedes
confirms
decides
declares
disputes
denies
describes
disagrees
emphasizes
endorses
finds
grants
hints
indicates
lists
maintains
mentions
notes
objects
observes
points out
proposes
reasons
refutes
remarks
responds
Attributive Tags for Paraphrases and Direct Quotes:
Integrating Textual Evidence
See
UWC.UTEXAS.EDU/HANDOUTS
: "Verbs of Attribution" and "Using and Framing Direct Quotations"
For help with transitions, see
UWC.UTEXAS.EDU/HANDOUTS
: "Flow and Transitions" & "Transitions"
Non-textual Evidence
Format all visuals--images, charts, graphs, tables, etc.--with care.
Make sure they're relevant and address them in your body paragraphs.
Note:
Some disciplines use
direct quotes
very sparingly or not at all. When you can quote, do so very
selectively
.
As you research and write early drafts...
use
evidence
and
analysis
to (try to) answer your research question.
Research Question
Analysis
Evidence
How the evidence answers (or does not answer) your research question.
Source material or results from research.
Topic:
Research Question:
One Piece of Evidence:
"Research at another large state university shows that when more students utilize public transportation on campus, the university spends less money and time repairing on-campus roads and parking areas."
Analysis:
"This research suggests that if UT Austin increases the availability of public transportation on campus, it will accrue significant financial and social benefits. Specifically, the university will save money because it will spend less on the materials and personnel required for transportation infrastructure repairs. It may also increase good-will amongst the campus community by avoiding the sorts of road-repair projects that increase traffic delays and detour foot-traffic around the university."
As you find evidence and develop analysis...
You will thus start generating the
primary answers
to your
research questions
.
As you outline or develop initial drafts...
You should articulate these
primary answers
as
main claims
.
In your final draft...
Your
main claims
should function as the
organizing principles
for the whole paper, and for its constituent
body paragraphs
.
Supporting Main Claims
pick a reader friendly order
evidence:
analysis:
context:
Body Paragraphs that Support Main Claims
can have multiple functions
support a single main claim.
synthesize a group of related main claims.
pose and refute counter-arguments or counter-evidence.
support a complex claim across multiple paragraphs.
As you find evidence and write analysis...
your
analysis
should eventually generate or lead to
main claims
.
Analysis
Main Claims
Evidence
The
summations
of your analysis. Later in your process, as you draft, you'll structure body paragraphs around main claims.
show how evidence answers the research question or supports the thesis
direct quotes, paraphrases, summaries, rich description, numerical data, etc.
where did you obtain your evidence? how does it fit into its larger source?
*
*
*
*
Supporting Main Claims
topic sentence:
main claim:
transition:
primary "take-away" of your analysis
first sentence of paragraph should preview coming material or state main claim
reference previous content; relate it to upcoming content
Other Sorts of Body Paragraphs
Multiple Possible Functions

report on necessary background material or history.
introduce or conclude large, constituent sections of your paper.
summarize or describe evidence before performing analysis.
summarize outside sources to frame your research or evidence.
*
*
*
*
A SIMPLE EXAMPLE
Research and Draft: A Process of Rethinking and Refining
evidence
research
"i wonder"
analysis
The Thesis: Your Ultimate "I say" Statement
the idea, claim, or premise you support or prove
experienced writers will usually...
start researching or drafting without fully knowing their thesis

develop a tentative thesis in the midst of their process

allow their tentative thesis to change in light of new evidence and analysis

find that their ultimate thesis emerges most clearly in the conclusions of early drafts
in my final draft, where should my thesis go?
you have several options:

introduction | conclusion | middle | several places | left implicit
if your thesis is not in your introduction...
there are other reader-friendly rhetorical devices that should go there:
TIP:
When composing early drafts, look carefully at your conclusions and your answers to the "so what?" question. Experienced writers often find that thesis statements--new, better, more sophisticated ones--appear their. This happens because writing is a form of cognition!

As you research and draft, your...
Basic Templates for a Research Question:
My sources accept/imply/claim/show ____________________________,

but I wonder, ____________________________?
old
/
new (to you)
or

they say
/
i wonder
"they say"
main claims
PART ONE
researching and drafting:
a recursive and cognitive process
PART TWO
structure and revision:
making your final draft "reader friendly"
"But
how
are bunnies involved in the squirrel-lawn gnome conspiracy, exactly? What role do they play?"
The squirrel-lawn gnome conspiracy to eradicate humanity.
Topic:
I wonder:
AN EXAMPLE
Building Transitions
what's the relationship between the two paragraphs?
time | logical sequence | comparison | contrast | examples
cause and effect | place | addition | concession | conclusion
repetition | summary
Building Transitions
find words and phrases to express these relationships here:
http://uwc.utexas.edu/transitions/
... Despite friendly relations between squirrels and bunnies,
historical evidence
suggests that bunnies are not involved in the squirrel-lawn gnome conspiracy because their involvement would prove too detrimental to that conspiracy's key alliance.

Of course, such historical evidence
may no longer be as relevant as it once was. Some researchers suggest that young lawn-gnomes, who tend to be more virulently anti-human than their elders, are disavowing the traditional pointed hats of their parents and grandparents generations...
Around your transition word or phrase, use key words to point backward to old material and forward toward new material
"Squirrels might be able to co-opt sympathetic bunnies into their anti-human agenda. In attempting to do so, however, they would almost certainly meet fierce resistance from lawn-gnomes and might even risk alienating that important group. Despite friendly relations between squirrels and bunnies, then, historical evidence suggests that
bunnies are not actually involved in the squirrel-lawn gnome conspiracy because their involvement would prove too detrimental to that conspiracy's key alliance
."
As historians rightly note
,

bunnies are probably sympathetic to squirrels' and lawn gnomes' shared anti-human agenda, largely because they have long been friendly with squirrels. But when they suggest that bunnies are actually involved in the squirrel-lawn gnome conspiracy,

these same historians overlook
an equally long-running history of antipathy between bunnies and lawn-gnomes. When fully examined,
this history suggests
that bunnies can't possibly be effective allies in the squirrel-lawn gnome conspiracy: their participation would break the conspiracy up by driving lawn-gnomes away from their traditional squirrel partners.
On the "old/new" paradigm for research, see Wendy Laura Belcher,
Writing your Journal Article in 12 Weeks
(SAGE, 2009)

On the "they say/I say" paradigm for research, see Gerald Graff and Cathy Birkenstein,
"They Say / I Say": The Moves That Matter in Academic Writing
, 3rd Ed. (W. W. Norton & Co., 2009)
TIP:
In fields where direct quotations are okay, writers often quote too much material in early drafts, because they're still mastering their sources and deciding what evidence is most important. As you revise, trim quoted material down to that which is most essential.
Library Resources for Research:
Guides by subject:

guides.lib.utexas.edu/index.php

Chat or email with a (real live) subject specialist:
lib.utexas.edu/services/reference/

In-person consultations:
lib.utexas.edu/services/reference/request-a-consultation



For instructors: TLS Librarians can visit your class, develop a tailored research guide, and more.
http://www.lib.utexas.edu/services/instruction/
As you read and take notes, consider:

What's
"old"
about your topic?
What's known, accepted, or established about my topic?

What's
"new" (to you)
about your topic?
What do my sources leave me wondering about my topic?
Developing a Research Question:
What counts as "new (to you)"?

unanswered questions
unconsidered (sub)topics of research
un(der) explored trends and connections
un(der) explored interpretations
new combinations of topics
new combinations of sources
new approaches to old topics
old approaches to new topics
What do you mean by "approach"?
how you gather evidence
what counts as evidence
how you talk about your evidence
it's discipline specific
Do I need a particular "approach"?
it depends, so ask your instructor
Research Question:
Pieces of Evidence:
"Modern observers note that squirrels and bunnies are generally friendly" (Hazel, 1999, 2-6; Silver, 2013, 213-45). "Historical accounts show that bunnies and lawn gnomes harbor a deep and mutual antipathy, largely because bunnies hate pointed hats" (Fiver, 2014, 345-48; Buckthorn, 2001, 89-95). "Pointed hats are a fundamental part of lawn-gnome identity: to deride a gnome's hat is akin to blasphemy in mainstream gnome culture" (David, 2007, 126-39; Gnomo, 2016, 35-57).
Analysis:
"Squirrels might be able to co-opt sympathetic bunnies into their anti-human agenda. In attempting to do so, however, they would almost certainly meet fierce resistance from lawn-gnomes and might even risk alienating that important group. Despite friendly relations between squirrels and bunnies, then, historical evidence actually suggests that bunnies are not involved in the squirrel-lawn gnome conspiracy because their involvement would prove too detrimental to that conspiracy's key alliance."
AN EXAMPLE
cite as you go!
They say:
Researchers have shown that squirrels and lawn gnomes have long been allied in a secret war against humanity, and that squirrel and bunny communities tend to get along. Some argue that bunnies are allied with squirrels and lawn gnomes, too.
"But
how
are bunnies involved in the squirrel-lawn gnome conspiracy, exactly? What role do they play?"
topic
research
evidence
some basic templates:
agree/disagree:
"[Sources] argue _____, and I dis/agree because _____."


offer another way:
"[A] argues _____, [B] argues _____, and [C] argues _____, but my view is that _____."


add:
"[Evidence/sources] show _____, and when you look at _____ in _____ way, you can also see _____."


complicate:
"[Evidence/sources] suggest _____, but when you consider _____ in _____ way, you in fact see ______."


point out gaps:
"[A, B, and C] rightly note that _____, but overlook _____, which suggests _____."
See Gerald Graff and Cathy Birkenstein,
"They Say / I Say": The Moves That Matter in Academic Writing
, 3rd Ed. (W. W. Norton & Co., 2009)
Looking for your thesis? Try...
your analysis and main claims

your concluding synthesis of main claims

the answer to your
"so what?"
question
when choosing, consider your thesis, discipline, genre, context, and audience
thesis question | (hypo)thesis | partition or "game-plan" | contract
Once you've drafted your body paragraphs,
write or re-write your intro, thesis, and conclusion to match what you've drafted.
Introduction
Conclusion
Body Paragraphs
Use body paragraphs
to support your thesis.
body paragraphs either...
expound main claims or help the reader in other ways
stuff to help your reader
"They say, but I wonder"
should become a...
tentative

"They say / I say"
statement
they say / i say
new research question
or
tentative "I say" statement
Research and Draft: A Process of Rethinking and Refining
evidence
research
"i wonder"
analysis
"they say"
main claims
topic
research
evidence
new research question
or
tentative "I say" statement
After you realize your thesis,
compose a final draft that expounds that thesis
in a
reader-friendly
way.
The Thesis: Your Ultimate "I say" Statement
the idea, claim, or premise you support or prove
an experienced writer will usually...
usually start researching or drafting without fully knowing their thesis

develop a tentative thesis in the midst of their process

allow their tentative to change in light of new evidence and analysis

often find that their thesis emerges most clearly in the conclusions of early drafts
Introductions
"private" tools for drafting and revising
&
"public" tools for guiding your reader
Your final introduction might...
engage & prime
funnel
organize
the reader with striking anecdotes, narratives, facts, statistics, etc.
the reader into your paper with info that is established, broad, familiar, etc.
the reader's anticipation with a research question, partition, contract, or thesis.
situate
the reader's experience of your paper in a broader frame of reference.
A Guiding Rule
for reader-friendly introductions

old
established
familiar
broad
general
"they say"
new
contested
unfamiliar
particular
specific
"i say"
BEFORE
Conclusions
"private" tools for drafting and revising
&
"public" tools for guiding your reader
Your final conclusion might...
synthesize main claims
answer,
So what?
ideal for long papers and complex arguments with multiple parts.
implications for future research? a call to action? relevance to other issues?
ideal for complex and contestable arguments with skeptical readers.
deliver the thesis
for advice on composing your paper, see Part II
PCL Learning Commons Resources

The Public Speaking Center

UT Librarians by appointment

UT Libraries "Chat with a librarian"

The University Writing Center
Full transcript