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Entering the Academic Conversation Strategies for Research Writing



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Entering the Academic Conversation(not final) is a brief guide for doing research and academic writing in college, which welcomes students into the exchange of scholarly ideas within academic communities across the disciplines.

Table of Contents



Preface for Instructors                      




How We Research, and Why    


Entering the Academic Conversation     


From Observation to Participation          


Starting the Academic Writing Process Now      


Making Decisions         


Parts of Entering the Academic Conversation    



Part 1             The Academic Conversation

Chapter 1        Seeing the Academic Conversation  


Choosing Your Own Path         


Defamiliarizing Ideas    


Building Academic Literacy      


Form or Content? Escaping the Report Paradigm                       


Increasing Responsibility for Knowledge


Writing to Seek “More Interesting Problems”     


“Less Efficiency, More Mystery”          


Considering Interdisciplinary Issues       



Chapter 2        Building a Knowledge Base and Reading for Informative Purposes           


Reading to Build Knowledge     

  Reading Informational Texts       


Answering and Developing Questions    

Reflecting on an Evolving Knowledge Base       


Building on Information             

Thinking Skeptically      


Starting with Facts        


Finding Motivation        


Chapter 3        Integrating Academic Reading and Writing 


Writing as a Process: More Conversation, Less Isolation             


Essential Features of the Writing Process          


Adding Sources in the Research Writing Process                       


Reading in the Conversation      


Reading through Multiple Layers           


The Reading and Writing Process at Work         


Active Reading at Work                       


Using Margins to Annotate Texts          


Developing Annotations with a Reading Log      


Tracking Subject, Organization, and Purpose in Texts     


Defining Unfamiliar Terms        


Recording Significant Passages             


Actively Integrating Academic Reading and Writing       


Retracing the Author’s Steps: Notes and Bibliography    


Chapter 4        Beginning the Research Process


Writing and Reflection: Finding a Subject Area and Creating a Research Question           


Connecting Personal and Academic Goals         


Positioning Your Topic and Question on a Scale of Abstraction   


“A Rose by Any Other Name…”: Adding Hierarchical Order and Describing Relationships         


The Scale of Abstraction outside Science           


Finding Broader Contexts for Local Issues         


Anticipating Your Research Purpose     


Developing a Research Question: A Case Study             


Making a Tentative Research Plan        


Chapter 5        Locating and Evaluating Sources      


Researching Large Holdings     


Using Subject Headings            


Doing Research Online             


Distinguishing Types and Purposes of Materials                         


Peer Review–the Standard of Academic Credibility      


The Peer Review Process in Government and Business  


Doing Research with Online Databases–the Basics      


Expanding and Limiting Terms with Boolean Operators  


Specifying with Quotation Marks           


Academic Search Premier Case Study 


Reading the Academic Search Premier Title Screen      


Hypertext Features in Online Databases            


Additional Database Features: Limiters              


Getting Articles and Other Sources: Online, Library Stacks, and Interlibrary Loan                                    


Moving Beyond Online Access             


Narrowing and Refining Searches–a Case Study          


Finding the Database That’s Right for Your Research Field and Question            


Chapter 6        Incorporating Source Material into Your Writing                


Using Source Material Purposefully       


Signaling Purpose         


Using Quotations          


Summarizing and Paraphrasing              


When Do I Use a Summary, Paraphrase, or Quotation in My Research Writing? 


Considering the Role of the Source Material       


Summarizing and Paraphrasing with Purpose      


Embedding Source Material in Your Point and Purpose: The Hourglass Approach                        


Adding Citations to Source Material: Page Numbers and Beyond            


Quotes within Quotes: A Special (and Tricky) Case        


Avoiding Plagiarism      


Chapter 7        Using and Writing Bibliographies     


More than Surveillance             


Prompting Further Research     


Maintaining a Working Bibliography       


Basic Bibliographic Techniques             


Locating Source Information for Bibliography Entries     


Parenthetical Citation Systems–MLA and APA                       


Works Cited and References Lists        


Footnote/Endnote Systems–Chicago and CSE  


Documenting Electronic Sources and Online Databases  


Using Explanatory Notes          



Part 2             Research Writing Projects


Chapter 8        Explaining Academic Terms and Concepts  


Acquiring Specialized Knowledge through Definition       


Identifying the Conversation through Definition               


Understanding Specialized Definitions                


Writing Assignment  




Revising and Editing     


Multidimensional Definition: Formal Peer Review           


Writing Samples           


Chapter 9        Summary and Critical Engagement


A “Door to Critical Literacy”    


Writing Assignment


Summarizing–the Core of Academic Writing    

Rhetorical Analysis–Ethos, Logos, and Pathos           







Critical Engagement: Occupying a Position of Authority                          


Creating a Reading Log           


Reading With and Against the Grain      


The Pressure of Assumptions: a Case Study                  


Drafting and Revising Your Critical Engagement Essay      


Critical Engagement: Formal Peer Review         


Writing Samples           


Chapter 10      Research Proposal and Annotated Bibliography      


Forecasting and Planning the Project     


Proposals inside and outside the Academic World           


What You Plan to Do–and What You Plan Not to Do   


Budgeting Time            


Where Are You Now?             


Using Your Sources’ Bibliographies to Find More Material         


The Proposal: From Reflection to Forecasting    


Writing Assignment  


The Three-Paragraph Proposal             


Essential Proposal Elements      


Writing Annotations                  


Connecting the Strategies          


Proposal/Annotated Bibliography: Formal Peer Review   


Writing Samples           


Chapter 11      The Exploratory Research Essay: En Route to a Thesis      


Writing Assignment  


“Hosting” Your Sources                       


Building on Core Skills              


Drafting and Revising the Exploratory Research Essay      




Organization–Who’s on First?             


Testing Structure: a Case Study             


Narrating Process–Emphasizing Your Voice    


Generating New Details: A Brief Introduction to Field Research Strategies          


Making Informed and Relevant Use of Field Research Techniques          


Analyzing Your Data                


Human Subject Protocols/Institutional Review Board at Your Campus     


Exploratory Research Essay: Formal Peer Review         


Writing Samples           


Chapter 12      The Formal Research Essay 


Writing Assignment


Anchoring Your Paper with a Thesis Statement             


What Is a Strong Thesis?          


Embedding the Thesis Statement in Purpose and Organization                 


Thesis First?    


Delaying the Thesis      


Forecasting Argument and Organization             




The Evolving Outline    


Organizational Strategies           


Trying on a New Voice            


Integrating General Audience and Scholarly Sources      


Moving from Analysis to Synthesis        


Anticipating and Addressing Counterarguments              


Drafting and Revising the Formal Research Essay  


Writing the Introduction            


Writing Transitions between Major Parts           


Writing the Conclusion  




Formal Research Essay: Formal Peer Review    


Writing Samples           


Part 3

Chapter 13      Research Dossier: Readings on Surveillance          

Darryl McAllister, “Law Enforcement Turns to Face-Recognition Technology”


John Gunders, “‘Here’s Lookin’ at You’: Video Surveillance and the Interpellated Body”


Nancy Nisbet, “Resisting Surveillance: Identity and Implantable Microchips”


Annabelle James and Chris Taylor, “Video Games: Some Pitfalls of Video Evidence”


Nicholas B. King, “The Influence of Anxiety: September 11, Bioterrorism, and American Public Health”


Gary T. Marx, “What’s New about the “New Surveillance”?: Classifying for Change and Continuity”


Part 4


Chapter 14      Design and Editing   




Offset Quotations         


Elements of Argument              


Developing Rogerian Arguments           






Integrating Visual Elements into an Argument    


Ensuring Clarity: Paragraphs and Sentences       








Subject-Verb Agreement          




Spelling: Homophones and Idioms          



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