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Section 1. GUIDELINES FOR ACADEMIC COMMUNICATION

Key elements of an outstanding research paper

Instruction: This is an adaptation of Kendra Cherry’s recommendations for graduate students and young researchers, published in the Internet without copyright limitations. On reading and understanding the text your purpose will be to acquire the knowledge of key elements of a basic presentation framework, starting with a research question and finishing with a suggestion for a future research. The ideas and vocabulary that you acquire in this section will help you discuss the topic both with your colleagues and at your English candidate exam. Trite as it may sound, you will surely benefit by employing this framework for your presentations.

Presentation framework

Good research papers should be designed around a basic presentation framework containing four key elements:

An Introduction containing the broad context for the paper set out at the global, regional, and national levels. You should provide a broad context for your study that fits into the accepted theories or concepts that drive the specific sub-discipline for which you are writing the paper.

This introductory section is much like a «so what» statement that establishes a legitimate reason for conducting the research. Follow this by setting out a clearly stated research question, statement, or hypothesis. Avoid developing research questions that can be answered with a simple yes or no response.

Construct a research question that lends itself to rigorous analysis in order to reach a conclusion. If you are developing a research hypothesis (i.e. null and alternative), make sure it is testable in a quantitative fashion. The Introduction should close with a brief «road map» of what the paper is going to present and in what order. This section should be no more than 1 to 2 pages in length.

Example: Your paper is about the impact of NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) on Mexico. You should begin by explaining the broad-scale or general context of economic and political integration. Then narrow down to the medium scale to place your topic in perspective; i.e. regional economic alliances between groups of states are seen as crucial to economic development in the coming decades. Next, state your research question, statement, or hypothesis. For example: Has NAFTA created regional inequalities within Mexico and, if so, where are these inequalities evident? An example of this question stated as a testable hypothesis is: NULL Hypothesis = There is no significant difference in development among the various regions of Mexico. The ALTERNATE hypothesis would be: There are significant differences among the various levels of development in the regions of Mexico. Caution: do not simply state a research question that could be answered with a simple yes or no response. Try and develop a thesis statement that allows for detailed and rigorous analysis of a specific problem or issue.

Finally, describe the plan of action for your paper. For example: First I provide a brief historical background to economic relationships between Mexico and the United States.

Then I analyze regional data to illustrate the concept of regional geographic inequalities. The paper concludes with a summary of key issues suggested by the research, some proposals, comments, and opinions about future directions or actions, and suggestions for future research possibilities.

2. A Framework for Analysis section that provides a broad context for the work to be presented in the third section. This is the appropriate place to provide a historical background to the issue under research. You should also provide a brief but thorough literature review in this section. Who has written about this topic? What did they have to say? Do you agree with the conclusions or data presented? Is there a gap in the research that you hope to fill or address with your research?

3. Analysis section. This section should be the «heart» of your research paper and contains the analysis of your research. Here you present your argument or case to support your thesis statement, research question, or hypothesis. Use quantitative analysis, where appropriate, and include graphics, and tabular material to illustrate your key points.

CAUTION!! Tables should not be included just to «fill» or «pretty up» the paper. Tables are analytical tools and should be used specifically to illustrate a key point or to provide a graphic reference to a key spatial pattern or concept. All non-text material should be directly referenced in the paper and should be placed as close as possible to the text where first mentioned.

Example: The value of Mexico’s currency against the U.S. dollar has collapsed precipitously over the past decade (Table 1).

The Table containing these data should be placed at the top of the first page following its parenthetical reference.

4. The final section of the paper should summarize the results of your research and offer some concluding remarks. Restate your hypothesis, statement, or question: i.e. This paper examined the role of the NAFTA in creating regional inequalities in Mexico. My research indicates that ......... etc. Offer some opinions or comments about the likely future related to the issue under investigation. Point out some suggestions for future research. It’s always a good idea in this part to point out some of the analytical weaknesses in your own research and to offer suggestions to improve the methodology. Link your conclusions back to the bigger issue or context outlined in the beginning of your paper.

(After Kendra Cherry, About.com Guide)

Answer the following questions:

  • Will you set your own research topic in a broad context at the global, regional, and national levels?
  • Can you describe key elements of a basic presentation framework in your last paper?
  • Do you always have a null hypothesis and an alternate hypothesis in your papers?
  • Do you think this framework is absolutely necessary or you can abide without this or that element?
  • Which part of the framework looks most difficult for you and why?

Prepare a 2 minute story about the framework of a good research paper.

Vocabulary and idiom notes to memorize and use presentation framework key elements the broad context for the paper set out at the global, regional, and national levels.

lends itself to rigorous analysis

to reach a conclusion

to develop a research hypothesis (i.e. null and alternative), it is testable in a quantitative fashion

road map

begin by explaining the broad-scale or general context narrow down to the medium scale

to place your topic in perspective

crucial to

state your research question

NULL Hypothesis = There is no significant difference in development among the various regions of Mexico.

The ALTERNATE hypothesis A Framework for

the appropriate place to provide a historical background to the «heart» of your research paper

thesis statement

«pretty up» the paper

a key spatial pattern or concept

parenthetical reference

the issue under investigation.

Section 2. GUIDELINES FOR GRAMMAR TEST

Errors with other types of clauses Clauses with there and it

Some clauses begin with the introductory words there or it rather than with the subject of the sentence. These introductory words are sometimes called expletives.

The expletive there shows that someone or something exists, usually at a particular time or place, these sentences generally follow the pattern there + verb to be + subject.

Examples:

There are many skyscrapers in New York City.

There was a good movie on television last night.

The expletive it is used in a number of different situations and patterns:

Examples:

It is important to be punctual for appointments, (with the verb to be + adjective + infinitive).

It was in 1959 that Alaska became a state, (with the verb to be + adverbial

+ noun clause).

It takes a long time to learn a language, (with the verb to take + time phrase + infinitive).

It was David who did most of the work, (with the verb to be + noun + relative clause).

It and there, along with the verb and other sentence elements, may be missing from the stem.

Examples:

In Michigan, _over six hundred feet deep.

(A) salt deposits, (B) where salt deposits are, (C) having salt deposits, (D) there are salt deposits

Choice (D) correctly supplies an introductory word {there), a verb, and a subject. Choice (A) lacks a verb. Choice (B) contains a subordinator, used to introduce g clause; there is only one verb, however, so there can only be one clause. Choice (C) also lacks a main verb.

a tomato plant from seventy-five to eighty-five days to develop into a mature plant with ripe fruit.

It takes

To take

That takes

By taking

Choice (A) correctly completes the sentence with the introductory word //and a verb. Choices (B) and (D) do not supply main verbs. Choice (C) incorrectly creates a noun clause.

Incomplete adjective clauses

As mentioned before, there are three types of dependent clauses.

Adjective clauses—also called relative clauses—are the most commonly tested of the three. You will see one or two items involving adjective clauses on most tests.

Adjective clauses are a way of joining two sentences. In the joined sentence, the adjective clause modifies (describes) a noun (called the head noun) in another clause of the sentence. It begins with an adjective clause marker.

Example:

I wanted the book. The book had already been checked out. The book that I wanted had already been checked out.

The adjective clause in this example begins with the marker that and modifies the head noun book. Adjective clause markers are relative pronouns such as who, that, or which or the relative adverbs when or where.

Examples:

A neurologist is a doctor who specializes in the nervous system.

This is the patient whom the doctor treated.

Mr. Collins is the man whose house I rented.

That is a topic which interests me. (which as subject)

That is the topic on which I will write, (which as object of preposition)

Art that is in public places can be enjoyed by everyone. (that as subject)

The painting that Ms. Wallace bought was very expensive. (that as object)

Here is the site where the bank plans to build its new headquarters.

This is the hour when the children usually go to bed.

Like all clauses, adjective clauses must have a subject and a verb. In some cases the adjective-clause marker itself is the subject; in some cases, there is another subject.

Examples:

The painting was very expensive. Ms. Wallace bought it. The painting which Ms. Wallace bought was very expensive.

The adjective-clause marker in the joined sentence replaces it, the object of the verb bought. In the joined sentence, the adjective clause keeps the subject— Ms. Wallace—that it had in the original sentence.

This is a topic. It interests me. This is a topic that interests me.

The adjective-clause marker in the joined sentence replaces it. the subject of the second original sentence. In the joined sentence, the marker itself is the subject of the adjective clause. Notice that the inclusion of the pronoun it in the joined sentences above would be an error

Incorrect: The painting which Ms. Wallace bought it was very expensive. This is a topic which it interests me. This type of mistake is sometimes seen in distractors.

When the markers which, that, and whom are used as objects in relative clauses, they can correctly be omitted. Example: The painting Ms. Wallace bought is very expensive, {which is omitted)

The adjective-clause markers which and whom can also be used as objects of prepositions: Example: That is the topic. I will write on it. That is the topic on which I will write.

You may also see sentences with adjective clauses used in this pattern: quantity word + of + relative clause.

Examples:

He met with two advisers. He had known both of them for years. He met with two advisers, both of whom he had known for years.

I read a number of articles. Most of them were very useful. I read a number of articles, most of which were very useful.

Any part of a relative clause can be missing from the stem, but most often, the marker and the subject (if there is one) and the verb are missing. Any word or phrase from another clause—usually the head noun—may also be missing from the stem.

Example:

Cable cars are moved by cables _underground and are powered by a stationary engine.

they run

that they run

run

that run

Choice (A) is incorrect because the pronoun they cannot be used to join two clauses. Choice (B) is not appropriate because the subject they is not needed in the adjective clause; the marker that serves as the subject of the clause. Choice (C) is incorrect because there is no marker to join the adjective clause to the main clause.

Mini-test

Identify and correct errors involving types of clauses

_1_ , 2 that mothers 3 by seeking fulltime employment are negatively stereotyped and discriminated against.

By growing the body of literature

There is a growing body of literature

With a growing body of literature

It is a growing body of literature 2

having suggested

that suggests

by suggesting

to suggest 3

who violate gender roles

violating

whose gender roles are violating

which gender roles are violated

Psychologists asked undergraduate students to read CVs 1 ,

2 and either a parent or not a parent.

describing a consultant

to describe a consultant

that describes a consultant

for to describing a consultant

that was either female or male

who was either female or male

which was either female or male

whom was either female or male

Students requested and recommended the consultant less 1 than a woman without children, _2 of being requested and recommended.

though she was a mother

when she was a mother

where she was a mother

that she was a mother 2

when fatherhood did not affect a man’s chances

though fatherhood did not affect a man’s chances

whose fatherhood did not affect a man’s chances

that fatherhood did not affect a man’s chances

Students rated 1 more communal (warm) but less agentic (competent) than a woman 2

that was either female or male

who was either female or male

which was either female or male

whom was either female or male

Students requested and recommended the consultant less 1 than a woman without children, _2 of being requested and recommended.

though she was a mother

when she was a mother

where she was a mother

that she was a mother 2

when fatherhood did not affect a man’s chances

though fatherhood did not affect a man’s chances

whose fatherhood did not affect a man’s chances

that fatherhood did not affect a man’s chances

Students rated 1 more communal (warm) but less agentic (competent) than a woman 2

(A when a mother was

although a mother was

that a mother was

what a mother was 2

that had children.

who had children.

when had children.

where had children.

Other psychologists asked undergraduate and graduate students to evaluate a job applicant 1 and as a person who may or may not have children.

although he or she was depicted as male or female

since he or she was depicted as male or female

as he or she was depicted as male or female

that he or she was depicted as male or female n. 2

because may or may not have children.

who may or may not have children.

that may or may not have children.

when may or may not have children.

Fatherhood _of recommendation

it had no effect on a man’s chances

there was no effect on a man’s chances

though had no effect on a man’s chances

because it had no effect on a man’s chances


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