A Course Outline
*This page contains the complete lesson plans for a course in research writing which I have taught for Lane Community College for about 28 years. If you have any questions about further details, please write.
Composition 123 Research Writing (Comp123.LCC) 1/20/99 FIRST/SECOND WEEK ALL COMP. 123 STUDENTS ARE REQUIRED TO GET A NET ACCOUNT- [SEE Mrs. Povenmire in the media center and then Mr. Langan in the computer room.] *Also required are note cards and a note card box [preferably plastic and waterproof] and two floppy disks that are not shared with anyone. A. Topic Selection (first/second week) 1. Choose 5 topics listed in order of preference. 2. Choose topics that are interesting and that have adequate source material. 3. Choose topics that can sustain a thesis but that do not hinder the writer's objectivity. 4. Avoid topics that are abstract or that are beyond the writer's current ability. 5. 1 to 1 interview on topic selection. B. Preliminary Bibliography (first/second week) *Consider having a "source interview" with each student and a checklist of available sources, plus a strategy for searching data bases. [Consider mindset of the person organizing the material.] Checklist checked by media center technicians. Training in using the 'Net' -available in class. 1. Stress the importance of general knowledge reading first- to avoid general reading during last minute note taking. Read overview of material from a basic encyclopedia. 2. Check on number and quality of sources. *Some magazines and books examine topics on a superficial level, saying the 'same things.' Also, Internet sources need to be examined carefully for scholarship and support. [Anyone can put a web page on the Net.] Therefore, support for the quality of the Internet source should be mentioned in the text of the research paper. 3. Don't quote more than twice from general encyclopedias. Go to primary sources rather than secondary sources whenever possible. 4. Look into "everything" as a possible source i.e. books, magazines, newspapers, specialized encyclopedias, interviews, television, CD-ROM (SIRS, Readers' Guide, Exegy, etc.), Search Engines, maps, film/videodisks, online university & public library catalogs, microfilm, experts, etc. * Hand out [SourcLst.123] with the outline. -Learn- about the topic and not just with the attitude of being sufficient for the paper 5. When using the mail to write for information, do it early in the quarter to get it back on time. 6. Instruction in basic note card taking skills, quote or paraphrase. (Handouts) With handout discuss problems of reliance on one main source. Suggest: Take the same type of information from different sources.. use a variety of sources in the paper. [Hand out [SourcLst.123] This source list needs to be turned in with the rough draft. NOTE: IF NOTE CARDS ARE NOT DONE WELL IN TERMS OF QUALITY AND QUANTITY, THE ROUGH DRAFT CAN NOT BE WRITTEN. FOLLOW DIRECTIONS FOR NOTE CARDS. C. Preliminary Thesis (first/second week) 1. A thesis statement is the proposition that you wish to illustrate, clarify, and prove. 2. The student is responsible to support the thesis stated in the paper and so may want to narrow the scope of the paper so the thesis can be established in twenty+ pages. 3. The thesis can be refined as further research shows the need. THIRD/FIFTH WEEK D. Preliminary Research (third/fifth week) (Oral Report: 3 points of interest) *With the oral reports the students should state their preliminary thesis. 1. Check on number and quality of sources. "I got another source!" Leslie Isola -Winter 99 [Great attitude toward a getting variety of sources.] 2. Check on accuracy and completeness of bibliography and note cards. 3. Take mainly quotes to avoid unconscious plagiarism. Paraphrase when writing the rough draft. *Mentioned already in General Notes. Repeat here. 4. In determining the value of a book as a source read those areas not read by the casual reader. The preface, introduction, foreword, etc. of a book will usually reveal the experience, viewpoint, credentials, bias, etc. of an author and the intended level of the book. 5. Look at the table of contents and index for indications of the presence of your topic in the book. 6. Save all bib and note cards. Mark degree of usefulness on bib cards. 7. Read several standard sources of information; then scan others for differing views and more facts. 8. Most popular magazines deal only superficially with topics but they may contain references to other sources. 9. DOCUMENT THOSE THINGS NOT YOUR WORDS OR YOUR IDEAS OR THOSE THINGS SO CONTROVERSIAL THAT YOU NEED AN EXPERT TO SUPPORT YOU. 10. Quote those passages with a unique or memorable style, or with a controversial content that the reader would give more credence to if it were in its original form. Follow this procedure in preference to quoting "anything" to meet the assigned percentage. 11. "20% quotes" is assigned to cause a "new" research writer to develop skill in working quotes into the paper. In later papers your style, preferences, and perhaps a different instructor may cause a variation in this practice. 12. A FOOTNOTE AND A QUOTE ARE NOT SYNONYMOUS. 13. An interview with an expert may be used as a source. Document the interview by noting name, time, place, and credentials of the person being interviewed. With permission one might record the interview for more accurate quotes. (See instructor for interview techniques) 14. Search for topics using a variety of terms and names in search engines, catalogs, indexes, etc. E. Intermediate Thesis (third/fifth week) 1. At this point after several weeks of research the thesis should be definite although it may yet be modified by clarifying or narrowing it. 2. 1 to 1 interview on topic progress. SIXTH WEEK F. Outline (sixth week) 1. Check on students' ability to do outline. A. List 25, 35-40 things that come to mind. B. Star the 6 most important. C. Arrange 6 in I-VI format. D. Put the rest under the 6 for beginning outline. E. Check to see that there is a LOGICAL FRAMEWORK to the outline. E. Show to instructor. F. Type up for ease in arranging sections, etc. G. Put outline -code- [sections] on your note cards in pencil. H. Put quantity of note cards for each section of the outline on the outline. [Steps G. and H. could be done at the same time.] I. During the full research time, research those areas of the outline that have insufficient note cards. 2. Have an overall logical framework to your paper. Do not drift aimlessly. The organization may be: 1) general to specific 2) chronological 3) order of importance 4) alternating pro and con arguments or 5) some other planned system 3. This step may be completed when you have done your preliminary research. It should be forming in your mind before the sixth week. 4. Balance the sections of your paper. SIXTH/SEVENTH WEEK G. Full Research (sixth/seventh week) 1. Check on thoroughness of research. 2. Check diversity of sources and help where needed. 3. Remember librarian. H. Final Thesis (sixth week/seventh week) 1. Collect thesis. 2. Measure ability to explain and defend thesis. *** *** *** ** ---------->> Teach 8th week material in the 7th week including p. 92-97 in Writing the Research Paper 7th ed. by James D. Lester. EIGHTH WEEK I. Rough Draft (8th week) *Some should start writing sooner. Those with slower writing speed should be counseled individually to begin sooner than the outline shows. #Consider writing the rough draft with your outline and thesis constantly in view so that you can refer Stress to them as you add material. Check to make sure this that the material applies to the thesis and outline, Point! and explain to the reader how the material does apply. #Read the material at the end of this outline regarding writing longer papers. **(Have a handout for the rough draft requirements.) 1. Typewritten with sources listed- "rough" bibliography need only list author and title and type of source, i.e. magazine, book, etc. [Alphabetize!] 2. Remember writing skills learned in Comp. 121. When a new paragraph begins, use unifying agents when the topic remains the same, and use transitions when changing to a new topic. 3. When using quotes, use your "own" words like cement between "bricks of documentation." Do not "stack" quotes; put your words between them. 3. No you's or I's. 4. 225 words per page minimum. 5. Minimum length 20 pages, maximum length 25 pages. 6. 5-6 footnotes per page (average). 7. 20% quotes. *20% quotes is assigned in order to cause a "new" research writer to develop skill in working quotes into the paper. In later papers your own style, preferences, and perhaps a different instructor might cause variations in this model. 8. Quote those passages with a unique or memorable style or a controversial content that the reader will give more credence to if it is in its original form. Do this in preference to quoting just anything to meet the assigned percentage. 9. Use the same dictionary or electronic 'speller.' 10. "Quote" and cite from your source, not from the source that your author has quoted and cited from. 11. Make sure that all sources listed in the Works Cited are used in the paper, and that all references used in the paper are also documented in the Works Cited. 12. Effect of thesis on organization (discussed during outline). 13. Keep your writing style- quote exactly or paraphrase NOTE --> completely. PLEASE REMEMBER that you must document paraphrases as well as quotes!!!! 14. Avoid reliance on one main source. 15. Do not have more than 4-5 references to the same source in a row to avoid the "book report" appearance. 16. Work quotations smoothly into the paper. See textbook Writing Research Papers by James Lester, pages 173- 193.. PLUS see instructor for notes and philosophy regarding parenthetical documentation. * One rationale consider is ease of finding the reference in the Works Cited. i.e "Hereafter cited as ...." 17. Introduce the quote and then comment on why it is there, or its significance, in your words. 18. Save paper on 2 different disks when using a computer. Save first rough draft as [paper1] before rewriting. Save paper as [paper2] and rewrite that so that you can go back to the original rough draft [paper1] if the rewrite [paper2] has too many problems. 19. Re: Computers- Word processors- 1) responsible for "their" typing as if a typist did it for the student. 2) Proofread after printing (suggest proofreading from paper copy rather than just from the screen). 3) Put name and page number on each page. 20. Write in pencil in the left margin where you wish something particularly checked in the rough draft. 21. Hand in rough draft with the outline and the source list in a large envelope. NINTH WEEK J. Works Cited (ninth week) 1. Work on Works Cited page in class while the rough drafts are being graded. (Check off completed work in the grade book.) 2. Works Cited can only include those sources actually used in the paper. 3. For the pattern to use, see Works Cited [MLA Format] in the textbook. Pages 250-279. REMEMBER- the Works Cited is alphabetized. *------>Be aware of State Girls' Basketball, etc. when finals are due. TENTH WEEK K. Final Draft (tenth week) NOTE: * (Have a handout checklist to be given out with returned rough drafts to be used with the final drafts.) 1. In writing the final draft, pay strict attention to the comments on the rough draft. If any thing is unclear, see the instructor. Please don't assume a meaning of anything that seems ambiguous or unclear. If you don't know how to correct some aspect of the paper, see the instructor for help and advice.. 2. Due one week after the return of the rough draft, if the rough draft was turned in on time. 3. Start typing as soon as possible. 4. Work on transitions that you may not have had time to perfect in the rough draft. Review the rough draft handout. 5. Re: Computers- Word processors- 1) Responsible for "their" typing as if a typist did it for the student. 2) Use a dark ribbon. 3) Proofread after printing. 4) Order sheets i.e. separate, have name and number on each page. -> Don't turn in a pile of connected sheets just run off the computer. NOTE: It is strongly suggested that the writer, PROOFREAD, PROOFREAD, PROOFREAD! and that the writer print out a copy to proofread because errors can be missed when proofreading a scrolling computer screen. 6. Final draft should include title page, outline, main body, and works cited page(s). 7. Hand in rough draft and note cards with the final draft. **Hand out the above 'sheet' and discuss the papers as a group. Then discuss individual papers with each student to make sure that comments on the rough draft are understood. ELEVENTH WEEK L. Oral Report on research to the class. [10-12 minutes] 1. Can use copy of outline from the final draft. 2. Student[s] may/should answer questions from the class after the presentation if there is time to hear all the student presentations and have questions also. * Remember to have students state thesis in oral reports and how their thesis relates to their research. Considerations for Writing Longer Papers Longer papers should communicate organization, thematically, chronologically, and topically. This concept means that first they should communicate the thesis throughout the paper [why each part of the paper is there in relation to the thesis]. Next, if the paper has a time based topic- a history paper, a biography, etc., the time [chronological] relationship of the sections of the paper to each other should be clear. Therefore dates should be plentiful and clear, and if an event comes earlier, previous to an event already discussed, it should be noted with a phrase such as, 'ten years before the fall of Russia, this event happened.' OR 'while this event was occurring in India, the following happened in Georgia, USA.' OR 'twenty years later Mme. Jones started the campaign to help wounded soldiers.' [Note: dates should be plentiful and clear even with a straight-through chronology because the reader might be trying to place some event in a time frame of other events that they already know about.] Then organization should be communicated topically. This concept means that each topic covered should be clear in its relation to other topics in the paper, not only in relation to the thesis. This need is especially true if a topic is going to be covered two or three times in a paper in more or less detail. For instance, in a biography, if an event is first briefly mentioned in an overview of a person's life, use a phrase such as 'this important event will be discussed in more detail later in the paper.' Then when the topic is covered later, it should be introduced with a phrase such as 'as has been mentioned earlier' to show the reader that the writer is in control of the topic and is not 'padding' or has not forgotten that they already covered the topic. Whenever a topic is covered more than once, the rationale for the coverage should be presented, and the location in the paper should be noted so that the reader doesn't think 'wasn't this covered before?' and go searching for it out of curiosity or irritation or both. This topical consideration for organization is similar to chronological organization but not limited to it.