This presentation will discuss the differences between argumentative research projects and analytical research projects. Then, it will take a more in-depth look at constructing analytical projects. This presentation will outline how to choose an appropriate topic, identify the intended audience, and conduct thorough research for an analytical research project. And finally, it will explain how to effectively organize and format an analytical research project. The facilitator might want to open up discussion by asking the audience about the differences between an analytical approach and an argumentative approach.
When constructing an argumentative project or paper, the ultimate goal is to persuade the audience. In order to achieve this, an argumentative research project needs to have a clearly defined topic or idea that is identified in the thesis statement. Once the thesis is defined, facts, proof (data), and sound reasoning are used to support and “prove” the thesis. The facts should be organized and presented with the intention of convincing (or proving to) the audience that the argument (thesis) is valid. Note the example. Suppose this is the thesis statement, “Martha Schwartz is the most influential contemporary American landscape architect.” This clear, direct statement is what the author has defined as the topic for the paper. Once defined, the author will continue constructing the project by explaining various reasons WHY Martha Schwartz should be considered the most influential contemporary American landscape architect. The facilitator might want to open discussion by asking the audience for other thesis statements that follow the argumentative approach.
While the ultimate goal of argumentative project is to defend a stance, the ultimate goal of analytical research project is to explore and evaluate an idea, topic, or stance. Analytical research projects also need to have a clearly defined topic, however, analytical research projects tend to ANSWER a research question rather than DEFEND a stance. Thorough research and various, credible sources are both incredibly important aspects of constructing analytical research project. The audience needs to be well-informed on all aspects of the research question. The facilitator might also want to note that students might benefit from anticipating some questions that the intended audience might have and address those questions in the project. Note the example. Suppose this is the research question, “Given Martha Schwartz’s influence on contemporary American landscape architecture, what are her major design inspirations and precedents?” This question outlines and explains what the project is going to explore and discuss. Once the question is posed, the author will continue constructing the project by exploring the various sources of inspiration for Martha Schwartz’s landscape architecture. The facilitator might want to open discussion again by asking the audience for analytical research questions pertaining to the assigned project, or by asking the about the differences between an analytical approach and an argumentative approach.
When choosing a topic, considering the assignment requirements as stated by the instructor is critical. Typically, the instructor will give some direction and perhaps some ideas to help students brainstorm a topic. Depending on how extensive the project is, considering due dates and other obligations will help when planning work time for a project. Often times, instructors will have due dates for certain sections or portions of a project to make sure students have started working—keep this in mind. Once a topic is chosen, conduct preliminary research by asking preliminary research questions and searching for the answers. Sometimes, a topic might seem interesting, but after conducting preliminary research, students might find that not much information is available. In this case, the student should brainstorm and choose another topic. The final, chosen topic should both fulfill the assignment requirements and be interesting to the student. If the topic is not interesting, the student might lose motivation to complete the project.
Identifying the audience for an analytical research project is important because it will determine how to write, organize, and speak about the research question. Here is a listing of some of the common questions students can ask to determine the intended audience. Again using Martha Schwartz as an example, if speaking to a kindergarten class, the author/presenter would want to use vocabulary that a kindergartener could understand, rather than using terms used by the professionals in the landscape architecture field.
The primary audience consists of the “gatekeepers,” or instructors and faculty members. In loose terms, the primary audience is in charge of evaluating the project and assigning a grade. The secondary audience consists of peers, colleagues, and coworkers. In other words, those who are simply present to observe the project, but who are not assessing it. The shadow audience is absolutely anyone and everyone else. Once a project is published or presented, it could end up anywhere—like on the Internet. The facilitator might want to open discussion by asking about who the primary audience will include and who the secondary audience will include. Using Schwartz, perhaps the instructor has requested that students especially consider a secondary audience that also consists of Schwartz’s peers.
Secondary sources are probably the most commonly cited sources in analytical research projects. Secondary sources consist of library databases (including online databases), professional publications, and credible websites. Other sources include primary sources, such as interviews, observations, and experimentation. In other words, primary sources are sources of information with which the author has direct contact. The facilitator might want to open discussion about available secondary sources and what the students think qualify as credible sources: Wikipedia, Ask Jeeves, etc.
This slide explains the general format for the introductory section (not necessarily introductory paragraph!) of a research project. The purpose or goal should be clearly stated, the audience should be able to tell if the project is an argumentative paper or analytical paper. The audience may or may not be mentioned in the introductory paragraph. However, if the instructor is looking for audience consideration when grading, then it might beneficial to mention the intended audience. If the project takes an argumentative approach, the thesis needs to be clearly defined. If the project takes and analytical approach, the research questions need to be clearly posed. The research methods need to be mentioned so that the audience is aware of how information was obtained and how much information was obtained– (If familiar with ethos, pathos, and logos, this could be considered part of ethos as credibility or logos as data). For more information on Aristotle’s proofs (ethos, pathos, logos), reference the OWL here: http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/588/04/. Lastly, the introductory section needs to briefly mention the findings or conclusion in order to forecast the organization of the entire document.
A basic organizational format for analytical research projects is provided here. Of course, this format can be changed or altered depending on the specific topic. Continuing to use the Martha Schwartz example, section 4 could be about specific influences and how these affected Schwartz’s work. For instance, discuss an influence in a paragraph and how it affected Schwartz, and then discuss other influences in subsequent paragraphs. Remember, although having mentioned research methods in section 3, citing the information is still necessary in previous and subsequent sections.
For quick questions call the Writing Lab Grammar Hotline at 765-494-3273. Or visit the Purdue OWL: http://owl.english.purdue.edu .
Analytical Research Projects Basic Elements of Analytical Research and Writing