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Writing your term paper

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Writing your term paper

  1. 1. Writing Your Term PaperUnderstanding the “why” and the “how” of writing The Dalhousie Writing Centre
  2. 2. The Why as in Why Bother?o  The University: a knowledge factory built on the work of other peopleo  The Student: skill development (critical thinking, reading, communication, knowledge acquisition, knowledge synthesis, academic community)o  The World: transmission of the knowledge
  3. 3. Ease of writing reflects your attitudeo  How do you feel about writing in general?o  What do you find difficult about expressing yourself in writing?o  Is English your first language?o  How much writing experience to you have?o  How well do you know the subject area?
  4. 4. Writing in the Disciplineso  Each discipline’s writing style reflects that discipline’s interests, directions, preferences, history, cultural biases, etc. You will have to adapt to these disciplines and their conventions in order to be successful.
  5. 5. Why write in the form of a paper?o  Conventionso  Acceptance by academic communityo  Ease of storage, retrieving, and reading e.g. abstract
  6. 6. What your paper will look like …It will n  follow a particular style guide (documentation, page formatting, page numbering, title page, reference pages, punctuation, etc.) n  be organized in a manner suitable to your discipline (research papers in economics are somewhat different from those in history) n  have a focus (thesis statement, purpose statement, research question, etc.) n  use the kind of evidence that your discipline values n  demonstrate that you belong in the community by the word choices, style, etc. you use.
  7. 7. A research paper: Hints for success1.  Understand the assignment directions (ask)2.  Find a strong focus (narrow the topic)3.  Outline your ideas before you research (tells you what you are interested in and what you need to find out)4.  Research and evaluate sources5.  Outline your ideas – fill in ideas6.  Give yourself time to write and then write7.  Draft sections and finish whole document8.  Revise, edit and proofread9.  Contact me at the Writing Centre (c.bohan@dal.ca)10.  Finalize paper
  8. 8. Big hint …o  Find a modelo  Hint: see what your prof has written (or what somebody in her/his field has written) For example: n http://atlanticresearchdatacentre.dal.ca/index.html
  9. 9. An example papero  The pages numbers on the following slides refer to this article –O’Higgins, E. R. E. (2006). Corruption, underdevelopment, and extractive resource industries: Addressing the vicious cycle. Business Ethics Quarterly. 16 (2), 235-54.
  10. 10. Question/focus from an international business paperSee page 235This article explores the central and systemic role of corruption and its link to low human development. First it presents an overview of the nature of corruption, its interfacing sources on the supply and demand sides, its economic and human impacts on societies in developing countries, and its effects on the corporate suppliers of corrupt remittances. Then, the extractive resource industry is presented as an arena wherein the conditions for corruption and its link with low human development are especially intense and pernicious, and subject to a self-reinforcing vicious cycle.
  11. 11. Evidence (in this field)o  Previous scholarly work n  what have scholars said on the topic and sub- topicso  Data – pages 236-249 n  discussion of the history, economic data, social history, modellingo  Summary n  allows the writer to give his/her take on the data (recommendations)
  12. 12. Let’s look at the International Business exampleOutline of the paper: n  Introduction - short paragraph on page 235 (statement of purpose) o  lays it out for the reader / this is what I am going to do n  Body – pages 236 - 249 o  Discussion of the issue of the systemic role of corruption o  Extractive resource industry as an example o  How is corruption maintained n  Recommendations n  Conclusions
  13. 13. It’s your paperWhat you’ve done so far: n  You’ve thought of an idea n  You’ve researched it n  You’ve decided how best to organize your paper so that readers will be convinced of your argument n  You’ve found evidence from sources n  Now you must write your ideas out with the sources integrated into your work so that your ideas shine through n  Make sure that for every quote or idea taken from somebody else, you comment on it (that might be evaluating it, adding something to the idea, combining it with another comment, etc.) n  You will synthesize your ideas.
  14. 14. Indirect quotes or paraphrasesUse of source material where you take ideas but attribute them tothe original source. Once again, you must comment on thematerial. n  See page 236 near the bottom “Corruption often seen in international setting where the stakes are high. O’Higgins (2006) indicates that Lockheed, an American manufacturer of civilian and military planes, was found to have paid kickbacks and money to political parties in foreign countries in an effort to secure contracts.” n  Another way to do this would be to leave the writer’s name out indicating the ownership only in a bracketed section at the end of the indirect quote. It would have looked like this: (O’Higgins, 2006)
  15. 15. Indirect quotes continuedo  O’Higgins uses this way to handle sources on page 242 In the past, 23 percent of states dependent on oil exports have experienced civil war in any five-year period. The figure for countries with no natural resources is just .5 percent (Ross 2001).o  Or on page 243 The model portrays the dynamics of the systemic type of corruption described by Riley (1998), and why it is so intractable, once established (Gray and Kaufmann 1998). The model is depicted in Figure 1.
  16. 16. After the drafting is done …o  Leave time for it to sito  Check your assignment guidelines/expectationso  Read the work aloud – watch for jumps in logic, poor expression, faulty grammar, mechanics or punctuationo  Check citations for accuracy and proper documentation