The mystery of research

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The mystery of research

  1. 1. The Mystery of Research For a lot of people, writing a research paper is something of a mystery.
  2. 2. Research is a Mystery <ul><li>Let's approach research writing as we would solving a murder mystery. </li></ul>
  3. 3. Who Dunnit? <ul><li>Just like a mystery, research answers a question or solves a problem. In this example, the question is: who killed Colonel Fluffernutter? </li></ul>
  4. 4. To Thesis or not to Thesis? <ul><li>Most often, writing instructors tell you to start with the thesis but when it comes to research, that can make things confusing. </li></ul><ul><li>For example, the thesis for our current mystery could end up being something like “Somebody in this room killed Colonel Fluffernutter with the ax.” </li></ul>This may be true but it's not very useful.
  5. 5. State Your Purpose <ul><li>Instead, try starting with a PURPOSE . </li></ul><ul><li>The purpose of this [investigation, research, experiment] is to [discover, explore, examine, analyze] ... </li></ul><ul><li>The purpose of this investigation is to discover who killed Colonel Fluffernutter, how they did it and why . </li></ul>
  6. 6. The Structure of the Purpose is Important <ul><li>First off, describe what your outcome will be. </li></ul><ul><li>Are you conducting an interview ? </li></ul><ul><li>Are you undertaking an experiment ? </li></ul><ul><li>Are you making an investigation ? </li></ul><ul><li>Remember, research is more than just a summary of what's already been written. Research creates something new. If we're just quoting somebody else about who killed Col. Fluffernutter, there's not really a point. </li></ul>
  7. 7. Concentrate on the verb <ul><li>Second, give more detail on that outcome: </li></ul><ul><li>The purpose of our investigation is to discover ... </li></ul><ul><li>This tells us, the writer, that we're not just examining the evidence or summarizing it or writing about it; we're going to discover something. </li></ul>
  8. 8. Focus Your Scope <ul><li>Once you know what you're writing, add even more detail. We're not only discovering the identity of the murderer (WHO), we're establishing: </li></ul><ul><li>HOW they committed the crime and </li></ul><ul><li>WHY. </li></ul><ul><li>So, we have a three-pronged purpose that's very specific. </li></ul>
  9. 9. Determine Your Method <ul><li>But how will we go about this? </li></ul><ul><li>A detective doesn't just go to the library and google, “murder.” </li></ul><ul><li>A research-detective has a method. </li></ul>
  10. 10. Write Your Methods Down <ul><li>Many student writers get frustrated, lost and misdirected while researching. Just as in a murder mystery, there are red-herrings everywhere. </li></ul><ul><li>Writing your method into your paper will keep you from getting lost. </li></ul>
  11. 11. Making Method <ul><li>At the scene of a murder mystery, a detective would probably: </li></ul><ul><li>Interview the suspects and witnesses; </li></ul><ul><li>Examine the crime scene; </li></ul><ul><li>Test the forensic evidence. </li></ul><ul><li>Our detective might also go to the library and do background checks or gather other expert testimony to support the evidence. </li></ul>
  12. 12. Here's Our Mystery Method <ul><li>This investigation interviewed Prof. Potato, Mrs. Muffin and Doctor Donut; examined the crime scene using a magnifying glass ; and tested the forensic evidence with a Watson Crime Scene Detection Kit ®. </li></ul>
  13. 13. Notice the Verbs <ul><li>Notice the verbs: examined, tested, interviewed... </li></ul><ul><li>Research is active. You aren't just writing “about” this or that, you are doing something, then writing about what you did . </li></ul>
  14. 14. Bloom's Taxonomy To discover some useful research verbs, look over Bloom's Taxonomy.
  15. 15. But What About That Thesis? <ul><li>Writing a thesis now would be difficult because we don't know who killed Colonel Fluffernutter. </li></ul><ul><li>We may have a suspicion (a hypothesis) but we don't have a real case yet. We need to discover and examine the evidence. </li></ul><ul><li>Our thesis “You Doctor Donut, killed Colonel Fluffernutter...” has to come after we've made our investigation. We need proof. </li></ul>
  16. 16. The Body <ul><li>In the body of your research paper you describe two things: </li></ul><ul><li>First, your findings and results. What did your methods produce? </li></ul><ul><li>Second, the evidence you're using to back up those findings. For example, “An O-shaped foot-print was found at the scene, a Harvard Professor of Pastry agrees that this print was made by a donut.” </li></ul>
  17. 17. Expert Witnesses <ul><li>Should you also use research found in the library or online? </li></ul><ul><li>YES ! </li></ul><ul><li>These are the “expert witnesses.” Tell the jury (your readers) who these people are, why they're qualified and what they have to say. </li></ul>
  18. 18. The Conclusion <ul><li>Student-detectives often get confused when it comes to conclusions but if you think of the conclusion as a solution in a murder-mystery, it will make more sense. </li></ul>
  19. 19. Therefore... <ul><li>In research, we conclude with a thesis based on the discoveries we've made. </li></ul><ul><li>This investigation concludes that Doctor Donut killed Colonel Fluffernutter because he was the only pastry with the motive, means and opportunity to commit the crime. Everyone else has an alibi, therefore , Dr. D is the only one who could have done it. </li></ul>
  20. 20. Poor Conclusions <ul><li>The thesis is the answer, not just a restatement of the facts: </li></ul><ul><li>Colonel Fluffernutter is dead and somebody killed him. </li></ul><ul><li>Somebody murdered Colonel with an ax. According to Websters, an ax is a sharp implement... </li></ul>
  21. 21. More Poor Conclusions <ul><li>Some researchers also tend to weasel out of a solid conclusion. </li></ul><ul><li>Murder may have contributed to Colonel Fluffernutter's death; more research is needed. </li></ul>
  22. 22. Help Future Investigators <ul><li>As no fingerprints were found at the scene and there were no witnesses, this investigation was unable to determine the murderer. It is suggested that future research focus on a forensic autopsy of the Colonel's remains. </li></ul>If more research really is needed, tell us why it's needed and what kind of investigation should take place:
  23. 23. The Value of Negative Results <ul><li>Even if your investigation comes up empty, writing up that research is useful. Future detectives will at least know what didn't work or what wasn't at the crime scene (assuming they trust your methods). </li></ul><ul><li>The process of elimination can help identify the truth. </li></ul>
  24. 24. It's as Valuable as You Make It <ul><li>Research is only as valuable as you make it. </li></ul><ul><li>Be curious . </li></ul><ul><li>Be adventurous . </li></ul><ul><li>Dare to ask questions and then seek out answers no one has discovered yet. </li></ul>

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