Crafting Your Research Paper PowerPoint

GWRC workshop
Fall 2012
Some basic genres of academic
 The review (note: a book review, written as an
evaluation of one specific text, is not the same as the
literature review that forms part of your research paper
or dissertation)
 Dissertations, monographs, and extended research
 Journal articles and seminar papers
Some commonalities
 All of these genres will require that you:
 Introduce the area in which you are working (context
and pertinent questions)
 Demonstrate familiarity with key works and current
scholarly conversations in your specific field
 Explore the implications for the field overall (in a
review section, discuss how the previous work has
impacted the field; in a research paper, propose
implications for your own new contributions)
Journal articles versus dissertations
 Journal articles address one specific hypothesis and
case study. They may be written for a particular journal
or call for papers on a certain subject; they often
explore one case study in depth.
 Dissertations require more extensive engagement with
the history of the field, demonstrating your awareness
of the depth and breadth of scholarship in the area.
They also involve extended analysis of the larger
implications of your research: how will this project
reshape your field?
The components of a research
 The abstract
 The introduction (if you have an abstract, this may not
be required—check your guidelines)
The literature review
Argument and hypothesis
Explanation of research design
Analysis of results
The abstract
 Abstracts are designed to provide readers (or journal
reviewers) with a quick overview of your project, its
context, your hypothesis, and its implications. Successful
abstracts will:
Contextualize your larger topic: what are you working on?
Locate your work in context by referring to prior work (or a
lack thereof )
Raise questions to extend that prior work and suggest a
new possibility or hypothesis that will contribute to a
better understanding of the topic
Suggest larger implications of your work: how might your
research affect the field?
A sample abstract
(from the Purdue OWL sample APA paper: )
 “This paper explores four published articles that report on results from
research conducted on online (Internet) and offline (non-Internet)
relationships and their relationship to computer-mediated
communication (CMC). The articles, however, vary in their definitions
and uses of CMC. Butler and Kraut (2002) suggest that face-to-face
(FtF) interactions are more effective than CMC, defined and used as
“email,” in creating feelings of closeness or intimacy. Other articles
define CMC differently and, therefore, offer different results. This
paper examines Cummings, Butler, and Kraut’s (2002) research in
relation to three other research articles to suggest that all forms of
CMC should be studied in order to fully understand how CMC
influences online and offline relationships.
 Keywords: computer-mediated communication, face-to-face
The introduction
 The introduction is an important part of your research
paper. While your introduction should be relatively
concise, accomplishing the goals below will take more than
one paragraph. In your introduction, you should
accomplish the following:
 Capture the interest of the reader. Perhaps you can do this
by pointing out a puzzle that we don’t yet understand or a
controversy in current scholarship. Perhaps you can draw
on the overall importance of your topic to draw the reader
in. Make someone want to know what you have to say.
 State your research question clearly and explain why we
should care about the answer.
The introduction, continued
 Preview your argument and conclusions and provide a
roadmap through the paper– let the reader know
where you are going and what to expect. References to
specific sections may be helpful here.
 Explain the value of your study. How does your work
advance knowledge? For instance, are you developing a
new argument? Are you extending an existing
argument? Are you evaluating an argument in a new
empirical domain? Where does your work fit in the
established literature and what is new about it?
A sample introduction
 (paper title) Varying Definitions of Online Communication and Their
Effects on Relationship Research
 Numerous studies have been conducted on various facets of Internet
relationships, focusing on the levels of intimacy, closeness, different
communication modalities, and the frequency of use of computermediated communication (CMC). However, contradictory results are
suggested within this research because only certain aspects of CMC are
investigated, for example, email only. Cummings, Butler, and Kraut
(2002) suggest that face-to-face (FtF) interactions are more effective
than CMC (read: email) in creating feelings of closeness or intimacy,
while other studies suggest the opposite. To understand how both
online (Internet) and offline (non-Internet) relationships are affected
by CMC, all forms of CMC should be studied. This paper examines
Cummings et al.’s research against other CMC research to propose that
additional research be conducted to better understand how online
communication affects relationships.
The literature review
 In this section, you must situate your research
project within relation to current literature and
show how your project moves existing scholarship
forward. In order to do this, you must demonstrate
your understanding of the current state of theory
and evidence on your topic and the ways in which
your proposed project improves upon existing
work. In other words, you must review the relevant
The literature review continued
 A literature review should not be merely a technical
reporting of what has been done before, but a creative
organization of past work that helps to frame and build
your argument. Good literature reviews order
individual articles and books into groups, producing
patterns that help readers to see unresolved debates,
inconsistencies, and new questions clearly and quickly.
 By organizing past research in this way, you can
convince the reader that your research, which will help
to resolve these debates and/or inconsistencies or
answer these new questions, is particularly important.
The literature review continued
 The most common mistake that students make in writing a
literature review for a research paper is to lose sight of its
purpose. The literature review is meant to explain both the basis
for and contribution of your research project; it should be
focused on issues directly relevant to your study and should be
organized in a way to call attention to the contributions of your
 The purpose of the literature review is NOT to show that you
have read a lot of material. Summarizing as many books and
articles as you can, whether or not they relate directly to your
research question, is not a good strategy.
 Short, well-focused literature reviews are more effective than
long, meandering ones. At the same time, you must demonstrate
your understanding of key texts as well as the current state of the
Excerpt from a review section
 Two programs exemplify how rich experiences can serve as venues for
developing and assessing multiple intelligences. The first, Project
Spectrum, is an interactive assessment process for preschool children
developed in the 1980s at Harvard Project Zero (Gardner, Feldman, &
Krechevsky, 1998), This process evaluates each intelligence directly,
rather than funneling the information through a linguistic paper-andpencil test. Spatial orientation and manipulation tasks evaluate spatial
intelligence; group tasks evaluate interpersonal intelligence; selfassessments paired with the other assessments evaluate intrapersonal
intelligence. Project Spectrum environments do not segment tasks
strictly into one intelligence or another. Instead, they set up situations
in which a student can interact with rich materials—and teachers can
observe these interactions—to see which intelligences come to the fore
and which are relegated to the background.
 (from Moran, Kornhaber, and Gardner, Orchestrating Multiple
Argument and hypothesis
 In this section, you must clearly explain your own
argument to your readers. This requires that you:
 identify the assumptions you are making
 show how you derive expectations about causal
mechanisms and causal effects in a logical manner
from those assumptions
 suggest a theory or hypothesis to explain those
Argument and hypothesis
A good theory or hypothesis must
• provide a discussion of cause
• advance the understanding of the field overall (that is, be
generalizable to a class of events beyond those you study)
• be potentially verifiable (or potentially provably false). (In other
words, you must be able to identify evidence that, if uncovered
in empirical evaluation, would convince you your theory was
Do your best to identify as many observable implications of your
theory as possible, even if you will not be able to test them all in
this paper. Try also to identify the bounds of the theory. Under
what conditions should it apply, and under what conditions
would we expect it not to apply?
Articulating your argument
 Your argument is your presentation of your own
scholarly, well-informed, considered opinion. State
your hypothesis clearly and explicitly, in as few
sentences as possible; this is not the place to confuse
your readers. Define any potentially unfamiliar terms,
and give credits to the originators of those terms.
Remember, how you present information , as well as
the content of that presentation, affects your
credibility as a scholar!
Example of setting out a theory
 Multiple intelligences theory was originally developed as an
explanation of how the mind works—not as an education
policy, let alone an education panacea. Moreover, when we
and other colleagues began to consider the implications of
the theory for education, the last thing we wanted to do
was multiply educators' jobs ninefold. Rather, we sought to
demonstrate that because students bring to the classroom
diverse intellectual profiles, one "IQ" measure is
insufficient to evaluate, label, and plan education programs
for all students. Adopting a multiple intelligences approach
can bring about a quiet revolution in the way students see
themselves and others. Instead of defining themselves as
either "smart" or "dumb,“ students can perceive themselves
as potentially smart in a number of ways.
Explanation of research design
 In this section, you will explain to the reader how you intend to
evaluate your hypotheses. Some important questions to address may
 To what population should the hypothesis apply? What sample will you
study, and how and why did you select this sample?
 What is your unit of analysis, and how have you have measured your
dependent variable and independent variables? You must explain the
sources of your information, and how you determined the values of the
variables. Keep in mind that this step is necessary even if you are
evaluating only a few cases and using words rather than numbers in
your evaluation. You must still explain what criteria you used to
determine whether (for instance) a university had a lot of bargaining
power with the state or very little, or whether a cooperative agreement
followed traditional patterns, and how you obtained information about
the cases.
Explanation of research design,
 What, if any, control variables are necessary to
include in your analysis? Why do you include these
control variables? Where did you get information
on these variables?
 What method of analysis do you use to draw
inferences and why? Make sure to explain any
particular aspects of the data analysis that require
specific attention.
An example paragraph
 One game involved participants manipulating a
joystick to control a robot that can lift and move a cube
to a target space. When played alone, this exhibit
primarily assesses bodily-kinesthetic and spatial
intelligence. But when two to four people each control
a different joystick—one that controls the left wheel of
the robot, another that controls the right wheel,
another that raises the cube, and another that lowers
the cube—they must coordinate their play to
accomplish the task, employing linguistic, logicalmathematical, and interpersonal intelligences.
Analysis of results
 Here you must present your analysis and a discussion
of the results. In constructing any tables and/or
figures, make sure that you provide clear labels and a
title. Readers looking at a table or graph should be able
to see with no difficulty the relationship you intend to
demonstrate and the population of cases that you
 It is important, however, that you not only present the
data in tables, but also explain it in words. Readers
should be able to understand your key results simply
from reading the text.
Analysis of results continued
 Not only should you present the data, but you should also
evaluate the result. This section is important—remember,
the data does not necessarily speak for itself. You must tell
your audience what you believe these results demonstrate.
Some ways of thinking about this question:
 What conclusions have you reached about your
hypotheses? Did the data support your initial theory, or
challenge your expectations?
 Are there weaknesses in the tests of the hypotheses?
 Are there particular cases that stand out as not matching
expected patterns? Why might that be? It is useful to think
as skeptically as you can about your findings and think of
any other possible interpretation.
 Conclusions are the final section of your paper, and often the last
chance you have to make an impression on your audience. Strong
conclusions will:
 Summarize the overall trajectory of your work. What did you
argue and what did the evidence show?
 Discuss directions for future research. What does this project
lead you to believe must be studied in the future? Did your
analysis raise new questions? Were there things that you would
have liked to be able to evaluate but were unable to? This allows
you to open up the critical conversation in new and productive
 Explain why your work is important. How did it advance
scholarship in this field, or contribute in a larger cultural
Some general comments
 Check to be sure that you have supported all assertions
with evidence. Even if you think a statement is logical,
your audience may not have the same context as you
 Make sure the connections between your data and your
conclusions are clearly expressed. Again, even if the
connections are clear in your head, they may need to
be plainly stated for your readers.
 Remember, be proud of your work—this is your
contribution to your chosen field!
Leeds, R. (n.d.). Guide to writing your research paper.
Unpublished manuscript, Political Science, Rice
University, Houston, Retrieved from
Moran, S., Kornhaber, M., & Gardner, H. (2006).
Orchestrating multiple intelligences. Educational
Leadership, 64(1), 22-27.
The Purdue Online Writing Lab. (n.d.). Conducting Research.
Retrieved from

similar documents