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Week 6 - Proposal and Writing Resources

Section Objectives

  • Explain and utilize a causal inference framework to construct, discuss, and critically analyze research arguments.
  • Present a variety of writing tools and resources for students to better their writing.
  • Discuss empirical research paper format and writing styles.
  • Explore the research norms surrounding the creation of a paper introduction and literature review.
  • Generate research topics and short proposal plans.

Paper Structure and Resources

There are eight general components to an empirical research paper. Focus on these sub-sections, as they will be used to evaluate your writing and paper grade.

  1. Introduction. State topic, the subtopics used to explain it, & findings

  2. Background. What’s transpired that makes this topic important?

  3. Literature Review. Summarize & critique theories, using themes

  4. Hypotheses. What must be true, if your selected theory is correct?

  5. Description of Data. Describe the source, time period, & variables

  6. Methodology. How will you analyze the data? Why?

  7. Analysis. Summarize the results and their implications

  8. Conclusion. Restate topic, the subtopics used to explain it, & findings

For more writing tools to help you brainstorm and develop the components of your paper, please click here.

Academic Writing 

When writing your paper and proposals, take the time to avoid "colloquial" or conversational writing style, and try to adopt a professional and analytical tone. Essentially, don't "write like you talk" , but instead "write like a researcher".

 

Academic Voice
Example of Conversational Language Tips on How to Make the Sentence Sound "Academic" Example of Academic Language

I thought the writer did a great job in the book because it talks so much about her life as an actress. 

AVOID EMPTY PHRASES that lack details or evidence. In this example, “did a great job” isn’t useful. What did she do a great job of? “Talks so much about” could be evidence, but doesn’t explain what “talk[ing]” means in the context of the sentence. 

The writer skillfully narrates her experiences as an actress through the use of witty language and non-linear storytelling. 

But frankly, I cannot believe she got to meet all the people she said she did. She must be making the whole book up. 

AVOID IMPOLITE ASSESMENTS OR HASTY GENERALATIONS of a text; (“must be making the whole book up”)

AVOID CONVERSATIONAL EXPRESSIONS (“frankly,” “got,” “making the whole book up,” and all contractions, e.g. “can’t” and “don’t”) 

Because she does not provide many details about the famous people she met, I question the reliability of her stories. 

I think she may have ought to use more specific details about her celebrity friends. 

AVOID HEDGING. Phrases like “I think,” “I believe,” and “maybe” make you sound less confident. The reader knows that what they’re reading are your ideas.

More specific details would add flavor and life to her celebrity friends. 

In the second chapter, the writer reconnoiters her feelings of lonesomeness despite being inundated by people. 

AVOID LANGUAGE YOU CAN’T DEFINE. Most of the time, using $100 words that you can’t define backfires. It often leads to awkward syntax and misunderstandings about your ideas. Using  academic language isn’t about wordiness or using complex language. It is about clarity. 

In the second chapter, the writer explores her feelings of loneliness despite being surrounded by people. 

Sometimes, she volunteered in the ghetto's soup kitchen, which was full of poor people. 

AVOID OFFENSIVE LANGUAGE AND SLANG. Offensive language demonstrates a lack of respect or understanding for your subject matter, which weakens any argument you may be trying to make. Instead, be very specific about the people or things you are discussing. Also, avoid making judgments or generalizations when they aren’t relevant to the content you are discussing. 

Sometimes, she volunteered in a soup kitchen. 

Source: USF Writing Center. Academic vs. Colloquial Voice. Accessed on: Nov 14, 2016. URL: http://www.lib.usf.edu/writing/files/2011/06/ACADEMIC-VS.-COLLOQUIAL-VOI...

Section Slides

**See attached .pdf file.