Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Craft of Research: Chapter 15 + review

Review, in the form of a Quick Tip: "The Quickest Revision"

  1. Diagnose: Underline introductory words (excluding, say, "At first") in each sentence.
  2. Diagnose: Are those sentence beginnings logically and clearly related in that sequence?
  3. Revise: Be able to tell who/what your main characters are. Make them subjects (nouns!).
  4. Revise: Change nominalizations into verbs.
  1. Diagnose: Underline final words in each sentence.
  2. Diagnose: Where in the sentences are new/complex information?
  3. Revise: Place those words at the ends of sentences.
Introductions: general form
  1. Common ground. Begin with a generality, anecdote, or interesting quotation. That part is optional. However, you should always have the second part, context (what your readers already know about the topic).
  2. Disruption. The context is comfortable. Your idea, at least at first, should not be. Then state the problem: conditions (a state of affairs) + costs/benefits (what will happen if the problem is/is not solved?).
  3. Resolution. Your solution goes here. Sometimes you only hint at it in the introduction (in which case it has to go in the conclusion); in most cases, it should be stated simply and explicitly here.
Introductions: miscellaneous hints
  • If this material is too complex for your taste, the authors recommend using chapters 3 and 4, at least for now.
  • Introductions can be as much as 15-20% of a paper (1.5-2 pages out of 10).
  • After the first part of the problem (conditions), you should be able to insert "So what?" and have the costs/benefits be a reasonable answer.
  • Rule of thumb for common ground: "Imagine you are writing to another person who once took the same course but does not know what happened [e.g. a discussion] in your particular class."
  • A familiar example of context-problem:
    One sunny morning, Little Red Riding Hood was skipping happily through the forest on her way to Grandmother's house [stable context], when suddenly Hungry Wolf jumped out from behind a tree [condition of problem], frightening her very much [cost of problem].
  • If you only hint at your thesis/argument/solution in your introduction, be sure to have a sentence there that roughly outlines your paper.

No comments: