Primary research


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Primary research

  1. 1. 1Writing Up Primary ResearchMost research that you will do in your undergraduate courses in university issecondary research. That means that you will be finding and studying the researchcarried out by others. If you do an original research project of your own, you willbe doing what is known as primary research. This is commonly done in graduateschool. Suppose you conduct a survey, do an experiment, or interview somebody.All of these are examples of primary research. (To learn more about doingsecondary research, see the module entitled “Researching, Organizing, Outlining,and Writing a Research Paper.”)ReferencingPrimary research is not referenced. It must, however, be clear from the researchpaper that the research is yours, that it is original, and that it has not been publishedelsewhere. (Note that a paper that has been handed in as course work is consideredto be published.)It is not necessary to show references for “common knowledge.” This isinformation that is familiar to most educated people or to readers in a particularfield of study.What must you reference in a primary research paper? Here is a list of what mustbe referenced:
  2. 2. 2• Any information that you took from other sources (secondary research thatsupports your primary research);• Any information that you took from your own published research. Once it ispublished or submitted as course work in any course, it is considered to besecondary research and requires a reference;• Any methodology that you used and that was invented by somebody else.You must give a reference, showing where that methodology came from, eventhough you might have obtained different results when you used it.Checking Your ComprehensionChoose the best answer for each of the following questions:1. Secondary research is(a) Inferior research(b) Research that is done after the primary research is finished.(c) Research into the work of other writers.(d) Research that does not need references.2. Primary research is(a) The first research that a researcher does.(b) Original research.(c) Better research.(d) Research that is done before the secondary research.3. It is necessary to give references to(a) the work of other writers.(b) anything that is not common knowledge.(c) a paper that has been submitted as course work in another course.(d) all of these.
  3. 3. 31. “Common knowledge” means(a) information that most educated people would be expected to know.(b) information that does not need to be referenced.(c) technical information that is familiar to most readers in that field.(d) all of these.5. Using someone else’s methodology in your research(a) requires a reference.(b) is not permitted.(c) is acceptable if that person is named as a co-author.(d) is acceptable as long as the results of the study are original.The following information is based largely on: Weissberg, R. and Buker, S. (1990).Writing Up Research: Experimental Research Report Writing for Students ofEnglish. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall.THE PARTS OF THE RESEARCH PAPERThe following are the parts of a research paper. They should be presentedin the order in which they are listed here.• Abstract• Introduction• Method• Materials• Results• Conclusions and Discussion• Reference List(Note that “Conclusions” means interpretations, reasonings, or judgements. It isnot the same as the conclusion section of an essay.)Each of the parts will now be discussed in turn, and the subsections of each partwill be described.
  4. 4. 4THE ABSTRACTThe abstract is a brief summary of the entire paper. It is usually written after thepaper is completed. It is put at the top of the paper, directly beneath the title andthe author’s name. A good abstract contains the following information:• The Background (present tense)Here the writer states the topic area and gives a brief explanation ofthe state of the research in the specific area up to the present study.This should be general and give no details.• Purpose (past tense or present perfect tense)The purpose of the present study is given in one or two sentences.• Method (past tense)The method used to carry out the study is given in general terms. Thisshould not be longer than a few sentences.• Results (past tense)Only the main results or groups of results are given here in generalterms. This should not be longer than two or three sentences in mostcases.• Conclusions (present tense, modal verbs, avoid making strong claims)Only the main conclusion is given in general terms. One or twosentences should be sufficient.Example and DiscussionLook at the following abstract of a scholarly article. Note the differentsections. The beginnings of the sections are indicated by the letters B(Background), P (Purpose), M (Method), R (Results), and C(Conclusions).
  5. 5. 5BAlthough a number of formulas exist for determining thereadability of texts, for the most part these are based exclusivelyon word length and sentence length. They do not take intoaccount the other factors that determine the clarity of a text.PThe purpose of this study was to devise and validate an indexof texture in writing that could be used to analyze texts.MTexture is defined as a combination of six indexicals. An indexreflecting these six indexicals was devised. The index was usedto measure the texure of four texts. Independent assessmentswere made by nineteen expert judges. RResults indicated aperfect correlation in rankings produced by the index and by thejudges. CIt is concluded that the six indexicals reflect thoseelements of texture that interpreters perceive as crucial totexturing in such texts. It is further concluded that the indexgives a highly reliable rating of texure and provides a moreconsistent and more delicate basis for measuring texture thanhas heretofore been available.(Adapted from: Roseberry, R. (1995). A texture index: measuring texture in discourse.International Journal of Applied Linguistics, 5(2), 205-223.)Note that the sections are short and general and appear in theprescribed order. The abstract is written last and put at the top of thepaper.THE INTRODUCTIONThe introduction of a research paper has three parts:• Establishing a ContextIn this stage, the writer gives general background information about theresearch area. This provides the reader with a context for understanding thepaper.• Reviewing Previous ResearchThe writer now reviews research that has been done in this area. This givesthe reader an understanding of the present state of knowledge in this field.
  6. 6. 6• Advancing to Present ResearchThis section of the introduction contains three sub-sections: First, the writerindicates the need for more investigation. Next the purpose of the study isgiven. And finally there is an indication of the possible benefits that willresult from the study.Examples and DiscussionLook at the following selections from the Introduction of a researchpaper. Try to identify the part of the introduction that each examplecomes from.1. Until recently, readability studies focussed on formulas thatcorrelated readability with word length and sentence length.2. It is Langdon’s view (2001) that human factors, such asculture, motivation, and interest in the topic should be takeninto consideration when judging text readability.3. Until now, however, no reliable studies have been carriedout to determine the extent to which text cohesion andcoherence contribute to readability.4. The purpose of the current study is to measure the effect ofcohesion and coherence on readers’ ability to comprehenda text.5. It is hoped that the results of this study will enable writersand publishers to produce texts that are easier tocomprehend.
  7. 7. 7Example 1 helps to establish a context; 2 gives relevant informationfrom a previous study; 3 indicates the need for more research in thearea; 4 states the purpose of the study; and 5 points to possible benefitsin the future. These examples can be matched with the sections of theintroduction, as outlined above.METHOD AND MATERIALSThis section is often called “Method.” Note that some of the parts of thissection are optional and depend on the type of research. The past tense istypically used, and either active or passive voice may be used, dependingon the kind and purpose of the research. The passive voice may be used todepersonalize the writing.• Overview (optional)In this section, the groups that were studied (individuals, classes,organizations, objects, etc.) are described. These are usually subsets of thepopulations that are being studied.• Sample (optional)This section explains how the samples from the original groups werechosen.• Restrictions (optional)If there were any restrictions or limitations on the samples, they aredescribed here.• Sampling Technique (optional)The method that was used to obtain the sample is described here.• MaterialsThe materials that were used to carry out the study are described here.• ProcedureThe procedure or method that was used is explained here.
  8. 8. 8Examples and DiscussionLook at the following selections from the Method and Materialssection of a research paper. Try to identify the part of the section thateach example comes from.1. A group of first-year Engineering students and a group offirst-year Arts students were studied. Each group contained30 students.2. In the Engineering group, seven students were Mandarinspeakers, six were Hindi speakers, one was a speaker ofSpanish, and the rest were native speakers of English.3. Two students were over thirty years of age, and wereremoved from the study.4. Subjects in each of the two groups were numberedconsecutively. Students with even numbers formed onesub-group, and students with odd numbers formed theother.5. A PowerPoint presentation was constructed, giving a shorttext, followed by 10 comprehension questions.6. Subjects were timed while reading the PowerPointpresentation. Their scores on the comprehension test werethen recorded.Example 1 is an overview of the groups; 2 describes the sample; 3 listsa restriction; 4 explains the sampling technique; 5 gives the materials;and 6 gives the procedure.RESULTSThis section is sometimes called “Findings.” Here the writer presents the relevantfacts that were learned from the research study and briefly comments on them.Such facts are often presented in the form of charts, graphs, or tables.
  9. 9. 9• Location of resultsThis section refers to tables, charts, or graphs that display the findings. Thepresent simple tense is used.• Most important findingsThis section gives the main information that was learned from the study. Itsummarizes the charts, graphs, or tables of information. The simple presenttense is used if the finding is expressed as an outcome. The simple past isused if the finding is expressed as a narrative.• CommentsThis section gives brief comments on the most important results of thestudy.Examples and DiscussionLook at the following selections from the Results section of a researchpaper. Try to identify the part of the section that each example comesfrom.1. Figure 11 tabulates the reading speeds and comprehensionscores of the subjects.2. The findings indicate strongly that, as cohesion increases inacademic texts, so do comprehension and reading speed.3. Biology students were able to read the Biology text fasterand with greater comprehension than students from othersubject areas.4. No significant difference was found between the scores ofmales and those of females. However, native-Englishspeakers of both sexes had less difficulty understanding atext with reduced cohesion than did non-native speakers.
  10. 10. 10Example 1 gives a location of some results; 2 is one of the mostimportant findings expressed as an outcome; 3 gives an importantgeneral finding expressed as a narrative; and 4 is a comment. Noteespecially that when the finding is expressed as a general outcome, asin example 2, the simple present tense is used. When a finding isexpressed as a narrative, referring to an event in the study, as inexample 3, the simple past is used.DISCUSSIONThe last major section of the research paper is usually called “Discussion.” Analternate name for this section is “Conclusions.” This section gives a general viewof the major ideas generated by the research and connects these ideas to otherstudies, advances, breakthroughs, etc. Normally, the entire Discussion section iswritten in the present tense, but there may be occasionally exceptions to this rule.This section has the following parts:• Original hypothesisRestate the original hypothesis or research question of the study here.• FindingsRelate the findings to the hypothesis. State whether they support thehypothesis or argue against it.• Explanation for findingsExplain or speculate about the findings, especially if the findings do notsupport the hypothesis.• LimitationsState the limitations of the study. These may restrict how far the findingscan be generalized.• Recommendations for further research. (Optional: mention practicalapplications resulting from the study.)Explain what other research has been suggested by the study. Optionallyexplain how the study might lead to practical applications.
  11. 11. 11Examples and DiscussionLook at the following selections from the Results section of a researchpaper. Try to identify the part of the section that each example comes from.1. The popular use of numerical readability formulas stronglysuggests that readability is solely a function of word length andsentence length.2. The findings, however, do not support the theory that readabilitydepends only on the length of words and sentences.3. One possible conclusion is that readability is a function ofknowledge and interest. In other words, a text is easier to read,the more interested and knowledgeable the reader is.4. This study has provided useful information regarding readabilityamong adults. It is possible, however, that the findings of thestudy do not pertain to young readers.5. The method used in this study could be applied to materials inother subject areas. This would lead to a better understanding ofreadability in texts representing various subjects of study.Example 1 is a statement of the original hypothesis; 2 is a remark about thefindings; 3 is an explanation of a finding; 4 gives a limitation of the study;and 5 is a recommendation that expresses the need for further research.REFERENCESIn-text references are required for all information taken from other sources. Fullreferences are to be listed at the end of the paper. For more information on how todo this, see the module entitled “Avoiding Plagiarism.”• Within the paperGive short references to all secondary research throughout the text andespecially in the literature review in the introduction.
  12. 12. 12• At the end of the paperProvide a list of full references at the end of the paper.Examples and DiscussionLook at the following references from different sections of a researchpaper. Try to identify which part of the paper each example comes from.Previous work in this area by Glicksberg and Warren (1992) showedthat....Bennet, L. (2002). Readability in the early years. Journal ofReadability Studies, 12(3), 202-213.A number of authorities suggest that this theory is not well founded(Jackson, 2001; Weisskopf, 2002; Brenner, 2006).These examples are in APA format. The first example probably comes fromthe introductory section and helps to provide the background for the topic.The second example is from the reference page at the end of the paper.(Note how the second line is indented.) The third example could be fromany part of the paper where a theory is discussed.LANGUAGE AND STRUCTUREFor more detailed explanations and examples of the structuring ofinformation and the grammar and vocabulary associated with each part andsection, see Weissberg, R. and Buker, S. (1990). Writing Up Research:Experimental Research Report Writing for Students of English. Englewood Cliffs:Prentice-Hall.To see examples of primary research papers, look at scholarly journalarticles in your field of study.
  13. 13. 13Final QuizChoose the best answer for each of the following questions:1. Which of the following is normally NOT a part of a research paper?(a) Problem(b)Introduction(c) Method(d)Results2. Background, purpose, method, and results are the main parts of(a) the introduction.(b)the method.(c) the abstract.(d)the results.3. Context, previous research, and present research should appear inthis order in the(a) Discussion(b)Introduction(c) Method(d)Results4. A phrase such as “The purpose of the current study is...” would mostlikely appear in(a) the method.(b)the introduction.(c) the results.(d)none of these.
  14. 14. 145. A sentence such as “Two groups of students were studied” wouldmost likely appear in(a) the method.(b) the introduction.(c) the results.(d) none of these.6. Which tense is most commonly used in the method section?(a) Present(b) Present perfect(c) Future(d) Past7. Graphs and/or tables are most likely to be found in which section?(a) Introduction(b) Method(c) Results(d) Discussion8. The original hypothesis of the study is normally repeated in(a) the discussion section.(b) the method section.(c) the results section.(d) none of these.
  15. 15. 159. “Implications for further study” is an optional part that is sometimesincluded in the(a) discussion section.(b) abstract.(c) introduction.(d) findings section.10. Short references appear(a) in the abstract.(b) throughout the paper.(c) on the reference page.(d) none of these.