RWA11: Introduction to Research Writing

Professor Rodgers

College Writing

Introduction to the College Research Paper

At the college level, a research paper is not an encyclopedia entry that merely reports facts about a topic.  Rather, college-level research projects pose a problem or question to be investigated, and the college-level research paper presents your findings in a way that supports your position. You need to do more than describe, in other words you need to analyze the material you have collected and figure out what it means.  With this essay, you  bring your own researched insight to a problem or question you have formulated. You need to demonstrate not only what you know about the topic, but that you have thought critically about some specific aspect of it.  

With the topic of Underage Drinking, the temptation might be to write a paper that simply reports statistics or describes the problem. However, a richer paper will say something about these statistics and analyze the problem or present possible alternative solutions for the problem. The research question often asks if there is a cause/effect relationship, what impacts what, or if there is a relationship (what two or more things are related).  Here are some possible research questions narrowed to specific aspects of the topic:

  What/Which:  What are the factors that contribute to underage drinking?  Which appears to be the most important?     

  Why: Given the numerous laws and policies regulating underage drinking, why does it persist?

  So what? Why should we be concerned about underage drinking?

Notice that these questions require a commitment on your part not only to show that you have researched the material but that you have thought about its significance as well. In other words, you will have to provide information (data, statistics, textual evidence, other findings) and establish the significance of it in terms of the issue you have presented to discuss.

Introduction to Research Assignment

Please READ Krause's chapter "Thinking Critically About Research."

1/ Write a brief outline of the chapter
2/ Develop three questions in response to the chapter and the material covered

Second, please read through the following information about Evaluating Sources and Searching the WWW:

Third, please read through the following information and COMPLETE THE QUIZ that is included on this site:

Fourth, locate and print out a bibliography of sources in your discipline.

Fifth, think about and begin to ask about and take notes about how research is used in your discipline and types of research documents that are used (lab reports, articles, proposals, business plans, project plans, etc.)