Monday, July 21, 2008

The Craft of Research: ethics, illustrations, and writing centers

Ethics etc.
  • Figures (tables, charts, graphs) appear straightforward, so you have to consider such things as truncation and scale in order to be honest with your readers.
  • When you use a figure, label it clearly (caption, suggest point, units of measurement); number the types separately (the second visual in a paper is not always #2); discuss each figure in proximity to it; and refer to each figure explicitly.

Illustrations - box in text. "To illustrate ___, use ___."

  • Process --> flow chart or decision tree
  • Logical relationship --> diagram or matrix
  • Object --> line drawing, drawing, or photo
  • Parts of a complex object --> line drawing or exploded view
  • Action/step in process --> line drawing, drawing, or photo
  • Spatial relationship --> line drawing, drawing
  • Complex detail --> photo or drawing
  • Research settings --> photo or diagram

Illustrations/headings - aid to your own organization.

  • If you can't put your linear essay (i.e. successive paragraphs) into some bulleted/list/logical-diagram form, you need to rethink your organization.
  • Temporary headings are perfectly fine, even if the format you're using discourages them.

Writing centers - with asides from my year's experience as a writing/reading coach.

  • Writing tutors are extremely useful, but only if you know what you're doing. If you don't have a plan beforehand, the session will likely be counterproductive. [Why didn't I find this Quick Tip before? So many students came to the center totally unprepared and passive.]
  • The suggested plan: (1) Make an outline of your current paper. (2) [my writing center does not do this:] Make two clean copies of the paper. The tutor will mark up one; you should mark up the other with section divisions, headings, circled key words, and a highlighted main point. (3) At the end, get a summary and plan in writing. This ensures that you remember what you did later.

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