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Tips about structuring the Ss Papers

By Joan Turner,2014-10-30 17:23
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Tips about structuring the Ss Papers

    Things for the Ss in your group:

    1. SITUATE YOURSELF

    ; When is your paper due? Mark the due date for the draft and the

    final version on your calendar.

    ; Carefully reread the assignment. Make a list of the key terms

    which help identify what you need to do.

    2. BRAINSTORM

    ; Think about what topics interest you that meet the criteria for

    the assignment? Why do these topics interest you?

    ; Use an approach suited to your learning style - For example, list

    ideas; make an outline; draw a circle - insert your main idea and

    then draw smaller circles named with possible subtropics; draw

    a tree with branches simulating sub topics; free write ideas

    without censoring them in your head.

    ; What do you hope to learn from researching any of these

    topics?

    ; Who will be your audience? What will your audience get out of

    learning more about this topic?

    3. DO RESEARCH [You can't write a good research paper

    without good sources.]

    ; Ask a librarian for help in finding materials. The university

    library will have more scholarly material than a public library. ; Specialized encyclopedias (dealing with specific disciplines) are

    good sources to help you find topics. Familiarize yourself with

    the search strategies of the databases you are using to find

    sources.

    ; What key words/phrases will you use to find your information? ; What databases - (online, CD ROM, library resident) would be

    appropriate for finding resources?

    ; Be discriminating in your selection of sources. It is generally

    best not to just rely on Web resources for a research

    paper. Most scholarly sources are not yet on the Web or are

    only available to paid members of scholarly

    organizations. Much information on the Internet is not

    reliable. Of course, a lot of information in print is also not

    credible. Be a discerning researcher. Review these guidelines

    for evaluating sources. Here are some guidelines for

    evaluating Web resources. If your sources are not credible,

    your paper will not be credible.

    ; Can you find enough information, given the kinds of resources

    you are expected to use?

    ; Is your level of understanding of the subject sufficient to

    understand and interpret the sources?

    ; Are the sources credible? Look at authority/credentials of

    author/s, connection to subject, credibility of publication,

    supporting evidence.

    ; Are the sources current? Out of date information is particularly

    troublesome in rapidly changing fields like science and

    technology.

    ; Are they sufficiently scholarly, written by experts in the field

    about which you are writing?

    ; Do you have access to them?

    4. ORGANIZE YOUR IDEAS

    ; Review the information you have gathered on the subject for

    variety, appropriateness, depth of coverage.

    Make copies of the source material. Take notes (Use a 3x5 card

    for each source and/or keep computer records.) on each

    source. Cards are good to help you sort out the placement of

    the material in your paper. Include all key information, such as:

    author/s' names, title of journal/ book, title of article/ chapter,

    page numbers, date of article, Web address, database you used

    to find the source, key term/s used to find the

    source, pertinent information (Note whether or not you are

    quoting or paraphrasing the pertinent information.). These

    records can help you find the material again if you lose the

    original source. You will need the info. for your

    bibliography/reference page and also show your teacher if

    she/he requests to see your sources.)

    ; Read and take notes on your sources.

    ; Put similar ideas together. Is there a pattern? Can you find a

    central theme? (If not, perhaps your sources cover too broad a

    range.)

    ; Make an outline (Be willing to change the outline if , after

    reading writing a first draft you can see your pattern is

    changing. The outline is a road map. If you go in another

    direction, change the map. But be sure your new direction is a

    valid one.

    ; Write a preliminary thesis statement. (Your thesis statement

    is generally one or two sentences which state your central

    points . It is NOT your approach to writing the paper. It

    is NOT a question. It is more likely the answer to the main

    questions you are seeking answers to in your research.) In

    your research paper, the thesis is generally positioned at the

    end of the introductory material, which sets up your

    subject. Be willing to revamp your thesis as your

    understanding of the issues increases and your main point gets

    more precise.

    5. START WRITING

    ; Begin where you feel comfortable. If you are stuck on the intro,

    begin in the middle! The point is to get those ideas out. You

    can reorganize later. Be willing to throw out some of your

    preliminary writing. This writing is often a bridge to where you

    want to go and once you get there you may not need the

    preliminary writing anymore.

    ; Don't correct grammar, punctuation, spelling at this

    time. Censoring yourself will interfere with the creative juices.

    6. STEP BACK AND REVIEW WHAT YOU HAVE WRITTEN

    ; After you have a fair amount, read out loud what you have

    written. Record yourself reading your text and play it back. ; Don't do fine-tuning or editing at this point; you are still in the

    formative stage.

    ; What is working and what needs clarification?

    ; Ask someone else to read what you have written, preferably

    someone familiar with the assignment. If you are a member of

    a peer response group, they should be your primary

    responders.

    ; Do you stick to your focus? Are your points substantive? Do

    your sources adequately support your points?

    7. REVISE AND CHECK YOUR PAPER FOR THESE PRINCIPLES

    OF GOOD WRITING

    ; Reexamine your thesis. Do the central topic and sub topics

    relate to your thesis?

    ; Do you use the sources to support points you make in your own

    words, or are you just regurgitating information from sources

    and letting them speak FOR you? Paraphrase when possible to

    show you understand and can interpret the material

    accurately. Paraphrasing means to accurately restate the

    points in your own words.

    ; What parts need more detail, evidence? (Cite all sources,

    whether quoted or paraphrased.)

    ; What parts need reorganization, sharper focus?

    ; What sections need clearer transitions between ideas? ; Does the introduction adequately set up the subject and thesis?

    (The thesis is generally at the end of the introductory

    paragraph.)

    ; Are the paragraphs cohesive? Your paragraphs should focus

    on particular aspects of the main topic.

    ; Does the conclusion tie in with the thesis? If the thesis and

    conclusion don't match, chances are in writing your paper your

    views on the subject changed. You may need to change your

    thesis/ rethink your position.

    ; Are sentences grammatically correct?

    ; Are your sentences varied in length and structure and

    emphasize main points?

    ; Do your sentences express ideas clearly and concisely? Are

    they punctuated correctly?

    ; Are your words concrete and appropriate for the subject and

    audience? Using "big words" to impress readers often

    backfires. Keep it simple is generally a good rule. ; Does your paper follow the exact format required? APA? MLA?

    or another form?

    ; IS YOUR PAPER INTERESTING?

    ; Did you get someone else to respond to questions you have

    about your paper? A second opinion can be helpful.

    8. REVIEW AND REFINE FORMAT

    ; Review the required research style guidelines.

    ; Be sure quotes and paraphrases are properly cited (in the form

    required) in the text of your paper.

    ; Be sure your reference/bibliography page is properly

    documented (MLA?, APA? another form?). Research styles

    have rigid formats. Don't mix and match styles.

    ; Be sure that each source used in your paper is also listed in the

    appropriate form in your reference/bibliography page. ; Review the style guide for proper cover page, page numbering

    format.

    ; Get a final reading from someone else.

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