Unit 1: Research and the Writing Process
Researching and reporting the results of research are fundamental to academic work in almost every discipline, as well as in many professional contexts. While research in itself may seem like an enormous task when you are just starting a project, it is important to understand that effective research is a straightforward, step-by-step process. By practicing effective research techniques and becoming adept with the tools that are available to researchers, you will begin to see research as an invaluable part of an organized system of study that includes discovery, invention, critical thinking, and clear communication.
While writing is sometimes viewed as a solitary undertaking, research requires active involvement in a larger community of scholars. You will have a chance to define yourself as a member of a number of communities, and you will begin to see your research as an important part of the conversations that take part among members of your communities. As you begin to see yourself as an active contributor in a community, you will start to understand how the work of others can both enrich your own perceptions and improve your understanding of the topic about which you are writing.
To help you get started as a contributing member of a community of scholars, we will first explore how your research can support the writing process that you began to develop in Composition I. You will recall that the PWR Method is a process based on pre-writing, writing, editing, and proofreading, so it is probably no surprise to learn that effective research follows a similar process and is based on similar methods of preparation and analysis.
By mastering the essentials of effective research, you can train yourself to think more carefully about your work at every stage of the writing process. For example, you probably know how much a good quote can help to emphasize an important point, but you may not be conscious of how helpful general background research can be in the very earliest phases of your writing, when you are just beginning to refine your topic and clarify your thesis and argument.
As we continue to build your experience as a member of a research community, we will explore how effective research can help you appeal to specific audiences and more clearly define the purpose of your writing.
Completing this unit should take you approximately 16 hours.
- Before you choose your topic, it is important to get a sense of the overall process you will follow to complete your research paper.
Once you have identified your discourse community, you must analyze the specific audience that will read your research paper. Although members of your audience may be part of a larger discourse community, they may or may not be familiar with previous research in the field you are exploring.
Concept mapping, also known as webbing, is a method for generating ideas related to your topic that you want to explore in your research and writing process.
Now that you have developed your topic, research question, and thesis, it is time to develop a framework for your entire paper. At this point, you have not started your research in earnest, but your outline will help guide your research and ensure that you find the resources that will help you prove your thesis.