What Is a Research Paper? To many students, there is nothing more discouraging-or even frightening- than the words "you are required to do a research paper for this course. Not knowing where to begin or what to do, many stu- dents spend weeks fretting-and procrastinating.
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The humanities take as their subject of inquiry artifacts of conscious human construction: paintings, musi- cal compositions, the work of architects and choreographers, and written texts that range from Plato's Republic to the poetry of Wordsworth to the Bhagavad- Gita to historical documents such as royal proclamations, nineteenth-century newspapers, or letters and diaries. Hayakawa can help us understand this connection better; as our frame- work for categories of evidence, let's use his classification of types of statements.! I emphasize the word research here because the secret of an effective research paper is the research process that precedes it.
As you take courses across the curriculum, you will become aware that a major dividing line separates the sciences and the humanities and often bisects the social sciences. A research paper, then, is an invitation to sharpen your ability to think critically. These published texts are really segments in a con- versation that is still going on. But the one thing I want to prevent is having you become overwhelmed by the project. What do these findings suggest about what the subject is and how it works? Doing a research project not only gives you the chance to learn about the problems the experts are puzzling over, but in doing a research project properly you will be doing the very same thing the experts do.
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Experts become experts through years of investigating and thinking about their subjects, through years of listening to and talking with their peers face to face, and by reading and writing. And a very common means they use to carry on these lively dialogues is to write books and articles for each other, the very books and articles you'll be reading. For this reason, we will be using a problem-solving approach. When an instructor asks you to do a research project, he or she is inviting you to experience what it feels like to be a professional. But these differences are also the result of differences in the way that historians and biologists and cultural anthro- pologists have come to define valid and meaningful knowledge.
If your answer to any of these questions is yes, you should find this guide helpful. So it goes in all the disciplines. No two research projects that you do will be exactly alike. As you take courses across the curriculum, you will become aware that a major dividing line separates the sciences and the humanities and often bisects the social sciences.
Actually, you are the most important element in your research paper. Do not read over other sections in this guide until you are ready to begin those parts of your research project. In each case, a theory of human behavior dictates the methods by which Professor X and Professor Y carry out their investigations. Making inferences and judgments is the natural function of a human mind. Doing a research paper is a rather complex process. Nor will she be able to build this house without plans that tell her what materials are needed and that give her a picture of how these materials should be put together.
Judgments Judgments are, in Hayakawa's words, "expressions of the writer's approval or disapproval of the occurrences, persons, or objects he is describing. A research paper is a report that an individual presents to others about the conclusions he or she has reached after investigating a subject and carefully assessing the infonnation he or she has gathered. Paradoxically, without a notion of the bigger picture, we don't know what we are looking for when we search for facts because this notion or idea of the phenomena tells us what constitutes a fact. Doing a research project not only gives you the chance to learn about the problems the experts are puzzling over, but in doing a research project properly you will be doing the very same thing the experts do. This section of the guide is devoted to an explanation of the general purpose and nature of research projects. Developing your own purpose and direction for a research project is the best cure I know for the attitude that completing such assignments is just another tiresome and boring exercise one must go through in order to pass a course.
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Thus, the wayan historian studies the development of labor unions can differ from the way a botanist stud- ies peach trees, and both can differ from the way a cultural anthropologist studies traditional dances in Bali.
Meanwhile, oper- ating on the Freudian theory that our actions have their roots in the psychic dynamics of the id, ego, and superego, Professor Y analyzes the effectiveness of techniques of psychoanalysis. Dialogues within disciplines tend to be lively because there are usually several theories under consideration, which spawn a number of different types of methodologies. When an instructor asks you to do a research project, he or she is inviting you to experience what it feels like to be a professional.
This continuous investiga- tion often results in modifications of a theory, or, even, rejection of that theory. Instead of tackling the major prob- lem writing a good research paper in its entirety, we will break down that major problem into parts and tackle each part. By contrast, the objectives of the humanities have led members of these fields to quite different methods of investigation and analysis. Making inferences and judgments is the natural function of a human mind.