Writing Process and Strategies for Academic Writing
Writing Process and Strategies for Academic Writing G RA D U AT E C O L L E G E P R E S E N TAT I O N N ATA L I E G A R Z A , L E A R N I N G S P E C I A L I S T , U T R G V W R I T I N G C E N T E R SEPTEMBER 20, 2018 Some Expectations in Academic Writing Writing for an audience with some background in your general area of inquiry, so you will tailor your level of detail and your vocabulary to meet more formal academic standards Writing to explore or explain new insights, interpretations, or modes of inquiry into a topic, not just to summarize others work
Writing which draws on other academic sources (secondary research), such as academic journals, books, experts, as well as your original research (primary research) Writing which develops your own voice and contribution to the topic under discussion. You participate actively in the academic discussion by explicitly engaging with your sources Writing which ranges from brief seminar papers to dissertations, journal articles, and scholarly monographs How to Enter into Academic Conversations Find out what the key journals are which have published articles on the topic or related topics. Use more than one academic journal data base to research the field. Work with a reference librarian or an accomplished faculty member to find out what some of
the most important journals in your field are, and then make it a habit to read widely in those journals. We can also help with data base usage in the Writing Center. Look for a variety of viewpoints on your topic or issue. You dont want all of your sources to be in agreement. Fairly represent opposing viewpoints, without simplifying. Narrow your topic appropriately. Graduate level writing should generally be in-depth discussion of a narrower topic, not a surface overview of a broad topic. Look for a way to contribute new information, new interpretations, or new processes to the academic discussion. You are writing as an emerging expert. Pause to Discuss Can you already name several important journals in your field or which have published articles on your topic of inquiry? List as many journals as you can. Exchange information with any other
attendees from your department. Can you name at least two academic data bases that are frequently used by researchers in your field? If not, how can you find out? For most academic topics, there are a variety of professional opinions that have been published. Why is it important to include opposing viewpoints or conflicting data in your own research? Developing a Research Question https://cirt.gcu.edu/research/developmentresources/tutorials/ question From Research Question to Tentative Thesis
Once you have moved from a topic to a research question in order to clarify your papers scope for yourself, you want to formulate a tentative thesis for your paper. The thesis not only will announce your topic but your solution, attitude, or interpretation of it. Be willing to modify your thesis as you continue researching and developing your ideas about your topic. Dont lock yourself into a final thesis too early in the process and then force your paper to conform to it if your research process leads you to new insights! Your entire paper will synthesize various academic sources with your own interpretation, analysis, and original research. The thesis statement is a brief statement (usually 1-3 sentences) which succinctly states both your topic and your approach or findings. Moving from research question to (tentative) thesis shifts the focus from you to your audience (readers, listeners, or both). From Research Question to
Tentative Thesis Subject of interest/ realm of exploration: Many video games rely on glorified violence to tell their stories. Their characters lack diverse representation. Individuals who fall beyond a masculine, heterosexual identity are often left out of narratives or are portrayed in negative ways. Within the game industry itself, this same representation is witnessed, with a majority of industry professionals being heterosexual males. Research question: How can we work to understand the messages that are being sent through video games so that we may build more inclusive games? Original thesis statement: Pentadic simulation criticism will allow both writers and analysts to understand the messages being conveyed through video games. This research in particular aims to utilize this method alongside queer feminist criticism to understand the ways in which gender representation can be enhanced within the virtual space. Finalized thesis statement: Pentadic simulation criticism will allow both video game writers and analysts to understand the messages being conveyed through video games multifaceted medium.
Pentadic simulation is a unique idea created from existing concepts: pentadic criticism and simulation rhetoric. My paper will be working to explain these devices separately before showing how my new concept is working to join them together. From Research Question to Thesis, p2 Remember that there are different kinds of thesis statements because there are different patterns of organization for your entire paper (analytical, expository, argumentative). The type of organization you use and the type of thesis you formulate will depend on your topic, your audience, and your overall purpose.
If you are working on a longer project such as a thesis or dissertation, your overall project will have a thesis statement, but you will have related thesis statements on subtopics discussed in your individual chapters. From Research Question to Thesis, p2 Thesis statement: Pentadic simulation criticism will allow both video game writers and analysts to understand the messages being conveyed through video games multifaceted medium. Chapter Topic: Theories Breaking down simulation rhetoric and pentadic criticism before explaining the characteristics of their fusion and how it has the potential to build and analyze video game narratives.
Pause to Discuss Lets practice narrowing a topic, developing a research question and a tentative thesis statement by using some hot topics from current events as examples: Choose one of the following topics: Americas gun laws, standardized testing in high schools, or gender representation within popular culture. Working in small groups, brainstorm to find at least three subtopics about each of these broad topics and choose one as your narrowed topic. Then, come up with at least two research questions pertaining to your narrowed topic. Last, rework each of your research questions into a tentative thesis statement. What did you discover about the processes of brainstorming, formulation of research questions, and crafting tentative thesis statements that will help you with seminar papers or your thesis work?
Take what you need. Brainstorming & Concept Mapping Especially with graduate level and professional writing, it is crucial to have a sense of how your paper will be organized before you start drafting. Work to understand the audience, purpose, and genre of your writing Work to understand what your unique topic may require. Quantitative or qualitative data, background information, explanations of newly designed concepts, a call for further research The Writing Center has lots of interactive concept maps that we are happy to help you use! They are very useful for seminar papers as well as thesis chapters.
There is no one right way to brainstorm. Everyones ideas develop in unique ways. Work closely with your thesis chairs to figure out a process that works best for you. Consider starting with a simple list of ideas (bullets) which you edit and then arrange into clusters of related ideas. 1. Discovered topics of interest: Interest in video games, noticed a lack of gender and sexuality diversity within video games and their represented communities, fascinated by mechanics unique to video games (HUD, npcs v. pcs, items, open-world v. linear, etc.) // experience in video game, gender, and sexuality studies 2. Brainstormed research questions: What do mainstream video game protagonists look like in terms of gender and sexuality? What do mainstream visuals of gaming communities look like? How can we understand the misogynistic attitudes seen in online and competitive gaming? How can video game developers build more inclusive video games? 3. Researched theories: Read theory books, read journals which explored similar topics (video games, movies,
literature, music, visual art, plays, etc.), watched conference presentations from video game developers, discovered different styles of video game scripts 4. Joined concepts I felt fit together well: Pentadic criticism + simulation rhetoric = pentadic simulation criticism (my proposed creation) intended to use this new criticism to break down video game narratives/ scenes intended to analyze the data acquired from queer, feminist perspectives 5. Developed thesis statement: Pentadic simulation criticism will allow both writers and analysts to understand the messages being conveyed through video games. This research in particular aims to utilize this method alongside queer feminist criticism to understand the ways in which gender representation can be enhanced within the virtual space. 6. Developed thesis outline: Introduction, Literature Review, Theories, Methodology, Results and Analysis, Conclusion 7. Began reading literature on topics I wasnt as familiar with: thesis organization, queer criticism, feminist criticism 8. Annotated bibliography: Recorded everything I read, watched, or played
9. Felt stuck with the literature review, began drafting the methodology and introduction 10. Felt like the scope of my research was too wide / cut the queer and feminist criticism out of my thesis 11. Designed a modified thesis statement: Pentadic simulation criticism will allow both video game writers and analysts to understand the messages being conveyed through video games multifaceted medium. 12. Finished methodology and introduction sections 13. Got back to reading, watching, and playing / filling out annotated bibliography 14. Outlined then wrote literature review 15. Re-outlined entire thesis 16. Conducted investigation with methodology / recorded results 17. Wrote the results, analysis, and conclusion sections
18. Reviewed each chapter / worked to ensure it read as a cohesive whole 19. Editing / Proofreading / Formatting Developing Your Claims / Checking for Cohesion Topic Sentence: The main idea/ focus of your paragraph. It usually supports the claim within your thesis statement. Concrete Detail/ Evidence: A quote, paraphrase, or summary which provides proof of the claim within your topic sentence. Commentary: Explains how the evidence is supporting the topic sentences claim. (Consider your audience! Think about the amount of detail necessary for them to understand these connections.) Concrete Detail/ Evidence: Provide similar evidence to further validate your claim.
Commentary: Always explain your evidence. If you simply provide evidence without explanation, your audience is likely to interpret the evidence in a way which strays from your interpretation. Concluding Sentence: Wrap it up. Connect the information you provided within this paragraph back to your thesis statement. Transition. Demonstrate how the information within this paragraph is capable of connecting to the information within your next paragraph. Developing Your Claims / Checking for Cohesion Known to New: Each time you introduce a concept, provide a follow-up statement in the following sentences The video game NieR is an excellent example of a game which ties its game mechanics to its overarching themes. Most notable is its use of choice-based actions which significantly influence the games plea for
humanitys necessity for empathy. In one instance, the game presents players with the choice to save the life of a main character. This Where Can I Get Help? Maintain frequent communication with your professor or committee members to be sure you havent gotten off-track and that you are progressing in the right direction! Break your total project into stages or steps and stick to a schedule for completing them. Talk to the Graduate College or to grad students in your department to see if it would be possible to set up Writing Groups where you interact with other graduate writers and give each other feedback. This can be a great way to keep your momentum up and to learn organization and writing tips from other grad students. It might also work to form virtual Writing Groups who meet and discuss writing online. Get a copy of How to Write a Lot: A Practical Guide to Productive Academic Writing, by Paul J. Silvia. You might use it as a
common reader for your Writing Group. Make an appointment with a reference librarian to learn more about academic research in your field. They can really help you find the best sources in the most efficient way so that you dont waste a ton of time trying to figure out academic research processes and sources on your own. Where Can I Get Help? (2) Come to the Writing Center often! Although sessions are only 30 minutes, you can come for two sessions in a single day (with some independent work sandwiched in between), and you can come to the Writing Center as many days in the week as you wish. We work with all stages of the writing process, from brainstorming to final revisions. Our Writing Consultants all have internationally recognized training & certification from the College Reading & Learning Association. Many of them are graduate students themselves.
We have one specially designated tutor and one staff member who work with graduate students through our Skype and Online tutoring services if you are unable to come to the Writing Center in person. A Few More Suggestions If sentence-level writing errors are a persistent problem for you, you may need to find and pay a copy editor. The Writing Center focuses primarily on audience, purpose, genre, content development, organization, and documentation. We can help you find pattern of error and show you how to correct an error you make repeatedly, but we do not fix your paper for you. The Writing Center has modules on academic voice, documentation styles, major punctuation rules, avoiding plagiarism, and how to quote and paraphrase correctly. If you would like to review one or all of these topics, just ask for the module you want when you check in.
If you are about to start working on your thesis or thesis proposal, be sure to read the Thesis Manual carefully before you start. http://www.utrgv.edu/graduate/_files/documents/utrgv-thesis-manual-101716.pdf
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