At first glance, the answer to the question, ‘What is a research paper?’ may seem obvious: a research paper is simply an essay that includes a few references and a works cited section. However, a research paper – a good research paper – involves so much more than Googling a topic and copying and pasting the first three hits into an essay.
A research paper is a complex document that combines the tools of a standard essay, such as a thesis statement and rhetorical modes, with careful research practices such as identifying valid sources, summarizing and paraphrasing, and proper citation of materials.
A research paper, unlike a report (which is data driven and does not include a thesis statement), collects information from a variety of sources and then uses that information to construct a well-argued, logically sound document.
This module will examine the differences between a research paper and a report. It will also help you identify your own personal interests and consider how those interests might be turned into a suitable topic for a research paper.
After completing this module, you should be able to:
1.Assess your research interests
2.Formulate an appropriate research topic from your interests. .
Learning Activities Learning Activities item options Hide Details .The first group of essays is from a series entitled ‘Self-Perception’ in Ackley’s Essays from Contemporary Culture 5th Ed.
Since this module links your interests and experiences to possible research topics, this series is especially relevant. As you read the essays, ask yourself what experiences you’ve had in your life and how those experiences have shaped you as an individual.
“On Being a Cripple” – Nancy Mairs p. 161
“What’s in a Name?” – Lini S. Kadaba p. 174
“Just Walk on By: A Black Man Ponders His Power to Alter Public Space” – Brent Staples p. 184
The second group of readings for this module is from: Lester & Lester’s Writing Research Papers 14th Ed.
Chapter 1: Writing from Research, pp. 1-9. Pay close attention to section 1d on page 5. Understanding a research assignment is the first step to writing a solid paper.
Chapter 2: Finding a Topic, pp. 10-30. Section 2a (page 11-13) contains information on how to use your personal ideas and interests as a basis for a research paper. The list on page 12 may be especially useful for those of you who are unsure where to begin looking for a research topic..
“Just Walk on By” After reading the essay, “Just Walk on By: A Black Man Ponders His Power to Alter Public Space” by Brent Staples (p. 184), answer the following questions, devoting at least five sentences to your answer.
•How does Staples view himself?
•How is this different from the image that others have of him?
•Does this image that other people have affect Staples’ own sense of self? If so, how?
Analyzing My Interests: Analyzing For each of the questions below, jot down some responses. These questions are to help you explore possible topics for a research paper.
1.Hobbies: What are your current hobbies and extra-curricular activities? What hobbies/activities would you become involved in if time and money were not factors?
2.Family: What holidays do you celebrate with your family? Who is your oldest living relative? What historical events has he/she lived through? Are you named for any of your relatives? If so, who? Who are the members of your family? Is it a traditional, nuclear family, or does it reflect the more modern, diverse notion of what a family is?
3.Career: What would be your ideal career? What career course are you presently pursuing? What background information would help you to perform better in your career? How do you think your professional field will change in ten years? In twenty?
After completing the self-assessment exercise, choose one of the topics (hobbies, family, or careers) and write a paragraph that summarizes your findings. Then link your findings to possible topics for a research paper.
Remember, well-written paragraphs include topic sentences, five to seven supporting sentences, and a conclusion. Proper grammar, spelling and punctuation are required.
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