Pro Academia Help

The Curious Researcher




.. J··Y ION

The Curious Researcher

A Guide to Writing Research Papers

Bruce Ballenger Boise State University


New York San Francisco Boston London Toronto Sydney Tokyo Singapore Madrid

Mexico City Munich Paris Cape Town Hong Kong Montreal



For Rebecca, who reminds me to ask, Why?

Publisher: Joseph Opiela Executive Editor: Suzanne Phelps Chambers Editorial Assistant: Erica Schweitzer Senior Supplements Editor: Donna Campion Senior Marketing Manager: Susan Stoudt Production ]Ilanager: Eric Jorgensen Project Coordination, Text Design. and Electronic Page Makeup:

Elm Street Publishing Services Cover Design Manager: John Callahan Cover Designer: N aney Saks Cover Image: Michael Saul/Band X Pictures/Jupiter Images Visual Researcher: Rona Tuccillo Senior Manufacturing Buyer: Dennis J. Para Printer and Binder: Edwards Brothers, Inc. Cover Printer: Coral Graphic Services

The author and publisher are grateful to the many students who allowed their work to be reprinted here. We would also like to acknowledge the following copyright holders for permission to use their materials in this book:

p.63-Gabe Palmer/Corbis p.145-Oliver Lassen/Zefa/Corbis p.169-Jim Cornfield/Corbis

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Ballenger, Bruce P.

The curious researcher: a guide to writing research papers/ Bruce Ballenger.–6th ed.

p. em. Includes index. ISBN 978-0-205-74526-5

1. Report writing-Handbooks, manuals, etc. manuals, etc. I. Title. LB2369.B246 2009 808′.02-dc22

2. Research-Handbooks,


This book includes 2009 MLA guidelines.

Copyright © 2009 by Pearson Education, Inc.

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the publisher. Printed in the United States.


Longman is an imprint of

PEARSON ISBN 13: 978-0-205-74526-5 www.pearsonhighered.comISBN 10: 0-205-74526-1





Preface xx

Introduction: Rethinking the Research Paper 1

E X ERe I S E 1 Collecting Golf Balls on Driving Ranges and Other Reflections 1

Learning and Unlearning 4

Using This Book 4

The Exercises 4

The Five-Week Plan 5

Alternatives to the Five-Week Plan 6

The Research Paper and the Research Report 7

Discovering Your Purpose 7

How Formal Should It Be? 9

When “Bad” Writing Is Good 10 :1:

Thinking Like an Academic Writer 10

“Essaying” or Arguing? 11

The Research Essay and Academic Writing 13

Becoming an Authority by Using Authorities 15

“It’s Just My Opinion” 15

Facts Don’t Kill 16

E X ERe I S E 2 Reflecting on “The Bothersome Beauty of Pigeons” by Bruce Ballenger 17

The Question Habit 25




vi Contents

Chapter 1 The First Week 27

The Importance of Getting Curious 27

Learning to Wonder Again 27

Getting the Pot Boiling 28

E X ERe I S E 1. 1 Building an Interest Inventory 29

Other Ways to Find a Topic 33

What Is a Good Topic? 35

Checking Out Your Tentative Topic 35

Making the Most of an Assigned Topic 36

EX ERe I S E 1.2 The Myth of the Boring Topic 37

Developing a Working Knowledge 39

Research Strategies 40

E X ERe I S E 1. 3 Seeing the Broad View 40

The Reference Librarian: A Living Source 46

Narrowing the Subject 47

Circling the Lighthouse 47

From Landscape Shots to Close-Ups 48

E X ERe I S E 1. 4 Finding the Questions 48

E X ERe I S E 1. 5 Finding the Focusing Question 50

EX ERe I S E 1.6 Finding the Relationship 51

Possible Purposes for a Research Assignment 52

E X ERe I S E 1. 7 Research Proposal 53

Reading for Research 55

EX ERe I S E 1.8 Ways of Reading to Write 55

Reading Rhetorically 57

Reading Like an Outsider 58



Contents vii

Chapter 2 The Second Week 61 Developing a Research Strategy 61

Google VB. the Library 62

A Complementary Research Strategy 64

Find Sufficient Information by Using the Best Search Terms 65

Controlled Language Searches Using Library of Subject Headings 65

Boolean Searching 67

Magic Words on the World Wide Web 68

Find Varied Sources 70

Primary vs. Secondary Sources 72

Objective vs. Subjective 72

Stable or Unstable? 73

Find Quality Sources 73

When Was It Published? 73

Why Journal Articles Are Better Than Magazine Articles 74

Look for Often-Cited Authors 75

Not All Books Are Alike 75

Evaluating Online Sources 76

A Key to Evaluating Internet Sources 77

Developing Focused Knowledge 81

What About a Thesis? 82

Suspending Judgment? 82

What Do You Presume? 82

What Are You Arguing? 83

Library Research Techniques 85

Finding Books 85

Understanding Call Numbers 86



viii Contents

E X ERe I S E 2. 1 Library Investigations 87

Coming Up Empty-Handed? 89

Checking Bibliographies 89

Interlibrary Loan 89

Finding Magazine and Journal Articles Using Online Databases 90

Finding Newspaper Articles with Online Databases 93

Advanced Internet Research Techniques 94

Types of Search Engines 95

E X ERe I S E 2. 2 Research on the Internet 96

Living Sources: Interviews and Surveys 99

Arranging Interviews 99

Finding Experts 99

Finding Nonexperts Affected by Your Topic 101

Making Contact 101

Conducting Interviews 102

Whom to Interview? 102

What Questions to Ask? 102

During the Interview 104

Notetaking 104

The E-Mail Interview 105

Finding People on the Internet 105

Making Contact by E-Mail 106

The Discussion Board Interview 106

Deciding What to Ask 107

Planning Informal Surveys 107

Defining Goals and Audience 107

Types of Questions 108

Survey Design 110

Avoid Loaded Questions 110

Ayoid Vague Questions 110



— Contents ix

Drawbacks of Open-Ended Questions 110

Designing Your Multiple-Choice Questions 111

Continuum Questions 111

Planning for Distribution 112

Conducting Surveys 112

Distribution 112

The Internet Survey 113

Chapter 3 The Third Week 115 Writing in the Middle 115

Becoming an Activist Notetaker 116

EX ERe IS E 3.1 Getting a Word in Edgewise 118

EX ERe I S E 3.2 “Say Back” to a Source 121

Recognizing Plagiarism 121

I Read What You Said and Borrowed It, Okay? 122

Why Plagiarism Matters 124

Sources Are from Mars, Notetakers Are from Venus 125

Paraphrasing 126

E X ERe I S E 3. 3 Paraphrase Practice 126

Summarizing 127

E X ERe I S E 3. 4 Summary Practice 128

Quoting 129

When to Quote 129

Quoting Fairly 131

E X ERe I S E 3. 5 Dialogic N otetaking: Listening In, Speaking Up 131

“Virtual Friendship and the New Narcissism” by Christine Rosen 134

Notetaking Techniques 143

The Double-Entry Journal 144



x Contents

Other Notetaking Techniques 153

The Research Log: A Jay Leno Approach 153

Narrative Notetaking 157

First Layer: Story the Source 160

Second Layer: Rapid Summary 160

Third Layer: Narrative of Thought 160

Online Research Notebooks 161

When You’re Coming Up Short: More Advanced Searching Techniques 162

Advanced Library Searching Techniques 163

Advanced Internet Search Techniques 164

Thinking Outside the Box: Alternative Sources 166

Chapter 4 The Fourth Week 169

Getting to the Draft 169

When the Experts Disagree 170

Evaluating Conflicting Claims 170

EX ERe I S E 4. 1 Do Concealed Guns Reduce Crime? 171

E X ERe I S E 4. 2 Reclaiming Your Topic 174

An Application Example 176

Deciding Whether to Say 1 181

Getting Personal Without Being Personal 182

Beginning at the Beginning 182

Flashlights or Floodlights? 183

Writing Multiple Leads 185

E X ERe I S E 4. 3 Three Ways In 187

Deciding on a Voice 189

Considering Purpose, Audience, Subject, and Who You Are 190



Contents xi

The Differing Voices of Research 192

Writing for Reader Interest 193

Working the Common Ground 194

Topics for Which Common Ground Is Hard to Find 195

Putting People on the Page 196

Using Case Studies 197

Using Interviews 197

Writing a Strong Ending 198

Endings to Avoid 198

Using Surprise 200

Organizing the Draft 201

Delayed Thesis Structure 202

Question-Claim Structure 204

Essaying or Arguing: An Example 206

Writing with Sources 207

Blending Kinds ofWriting and Sources 207

Handling Quotes 208

Quick Tips for Controlling Quotations 211

Grafting Quotes 211

Sandwiching Quotes 211

Billboarding Quotes 212

Splicing Quotes 213

Handling Interview Material 214

Trusting Your Memory 215

Citing Sources 215

An Alternative to Colliding Footnotes 215

I Hate These Theses to Pieces 216

Driving Through the First Draft 218

A Draft Is Something the Wind Blows Through 218



xii Contents

Chapter 5 The Fifth Week 221 Revising for Purpose 221

EX ERe I S E 5. 1 Wrestling with the Draft 223

The Thesis as a ‘fool for Revision 226

E X ERe I S E 5. 2 Dissecting the Fish 227

Using a Reader 229

What You Need from a Reader 229

E X ERe I S E 5. 3 Directing the Reader’s Response 229

Attacking the Draft 230

EX ERe I S E 5.4 Cut-and-Paste Revision 231

Examining the Wreckage 232

Revising for Information 234

Finding Quick Facts 234

Revising for Language 235

Listening to the Voice 237

Avoid Sounding Glib 237

How to Control Information 238

Verbal Gestures 240

Scrutinizing Paragraphs 242

How Well Do You Integrate Sources? 242

Is Each Paragraph Unified? 242

Scrutinizing Sentences 242

Using Active Voice 242

Using Strong Verbs 244

Varying Sentence Length 244

Editing for Simplicity 247

EX ERe I S E 5.5 Cutting Clutter 247

Stock Phrases in Research Papers 247



— Contents xiii

Preparing the Final Manuscript 248

Considering “Reader-Friendly” Design 249

Following MLA Conventions 250

Proofreading Your Paper 250

Proofreading on a Computer 250

Looking Closely 251

EX ERe I S E 5.6 Picking Off the Lint 251

Ten Common Mistakes 252

Using the “Find” or “Search” Function 254

Avoiding Sexist Language 255

Looking Back and Moving On 256

Appendix A Guide to MLA Style 257 Part One: Citing Sources in Your Essay 259

1.1 When to Cite 259

The Common Knowledge Exception 259

1.2 The MLA AuthorlPage System 260

The Basics of Using Parenthetical Citation 260

1.2.1 Placement of Citations 262

1.2.2 When You Mention the Author’s Name 264

1.2.3 When There Is No Author 264

1.2.4 Works by the Same Author 265

1.2.5 Indirect Sources 266

1.2.6 Personal Interviews 267

1.2.7 Several Sources in a Single Citation 267

Sample Parenthetical References for Other Sources 268

1.2.8 An Entire Work 268

1.2.9 A Volume of a Multivolume Work 268

1.2.10 Several Sources for a Single Passage 268



xiv Contents

1.2.11 A Literary Work 269

1.2.12 An Online Source 269

Part Two: Format 270

2.1 The Layout 270

2.1.1 Printing 270

2.1.2 Margins and Spacing 270

2.1.3 Title Page 270

2.1.4 Pagination 272

2.1.5 Placement of Tables, Charts, and illustrations 272

2.1.6 Handling Titles 272

2.1.7 Italics and Underlinings 273

2.1.8 Language and Style 273

Names 273

Ellipsis Points 274

Quotations 274

Part Three: Preparing the “Works Cited” Page 275

3.1 Format 276

Alphabetizing the List 276

Indenting and Spacing 276

3.2 Citing Books 277

Title 277

Edition 278

Publication Place, Publisher, and Date 278

Page Numbers 278

Sample Book Citations 279

3.2.1 A Book by One Author 279

3.2.2 A Book by Two Authors 279

3.2.3 A Book with More Than Three Authors 279

3.2.4 Several Books by the Same Author 279

3.2.5 An Entire Collection or Anthology 279

3.2.6 A Work in a Collection or Anthology 280



Contents xv

3.2.7 An Introduction, Preface, Foreword, or Prologue 280

3.2.8 A Book with No Author 280

3.2.9 An Encyclopedia 281

3.2.10 A Book with an Institutional Author 281

3.2.11 A Book with Multiple Volumes 281

3.2.12 A Book That Is Not a First Edition 282

3.2.13 A Book Published Before 1900 282

3.2.14 A Translation 283

3.2.15 Government Documents 283

3.2.16 A Book That Was Republished 283

3.2.17 An Online Book 284

3.3 Citing Periodicals 284

Author’s Name 284

Article Title 284

Periodical Title 284

Volume Number 285

Date 285

Page Numbers 285

Sample Periodical Citations 286

3.3.1 A Magazine Article 286

3.3.2 A Journal Article 286

3.3.3 A Newspaper Article 287

3.3.4 An Article with No Author 288

3.3.5 An Editorial 288

3.3.6 A Letter to the Editor 289

3.3.7 A Review 289

3.3.8 An Abstract 289

3.4 Citing Nonprint and Other Sources 290

3.4.1 An Interview 290

3.4.2 Surveys, Questionnaires, and Case Studies 291



xvi Contents

3.4.3 Recordings 291

3.4.4 Television and Radio Programs 292

3.4.5 Films, Videotapes, and DVDs 292

3.4.6 Artwork 293

3.4.7 An Advertisement 293

3.4.8 Lectures and Speeches 293

3.4.9 Pamphlets 294

3.5 Citing CD-ROMs and Other “Portable” Databases 294

3.5.1 A Nonperiodical Database 294

3.5.2 A Periodical Database 295

3.6 Citing Online Databases 296

Other Recent Changes by the MLA 296

Is It Also in Print? 297

Long and Ugly URLs 298

Sample Online Citations 299

3.6.1 An Article 299

3.6.2 An Article or Abstract in a Library Database 299

3.6.3 An Online Book 302

3.6.4 A Web Site or Page from a Web Site 303

3.6.5 An Online Posting 303

3.6.6 An E-Mail Message 304

3.6.7 A Sound Clip or Podcast 304

3.6.8 An Online Video 304

3.6.9 An Interview 305

3.6.10 A Blog Entry or Blog Comment 305

3.6.11 An Online Image 306

3.6.12 Synchronous Communication (MOOS, MUDS, IRCS) 306

Part Four: Student Essay in MLA Style 307

“In Search of the Great White” by Amanda Stewart 308



Contents xvii

Appendix B Guide to APA Style 319

Part One: How the Essay Should Look 322

1.1 The Layout 322

1.1.1 Page Format 322

1.1.2 Title Page 322

1.1.3 Abstract 322

1.1.4 Body of the Paper 324

1.1.5 Handling Quoted Material 325

1.1.6 References Page 326

1.1.7 Appendix 327

1.1.8 Notes 327

1.1.9 Tables and Figures 327

1.1.10 Language and Style 328

Part Two: Citing Sources in Your Essay 328

2.1 The APA AuthorlPage System 328

2.1.1 When the Author Is Mentioned in the Text 328

2.1.2 When the Author Isn’t Mentioned in the Text 328

2.1.3 When to Cite Page Numbers 329

2.1.4 A Single Work by Two or More Authors 329

2.1.5 A Work with No Author 330

2.1.6 Two or More Works by the Same Author 330

2.1.7 An Institutional Author 330

2.1.8 Multiple Works in the Same Parentheses 331

2.1.9 Interviews, E-Mail, and Letters 331

2.1.10 New Editions of Old Works 332

2.1.11 A Web Site 332

Part Three: Preparing the “References” List 332

3.1 Order of Sources 332

3.2 Order of Information 333



xviii Contents

Author 333

Date 333

Article or Book Title 333

Periodical Title and Publication Information 333

3.3 Sample References 334

3.3.1 A Journal Article 334

3.3.2 A Journal Article Not Paginated Continuously 335

3.3.3 A Magazine Article 335

3.3.4 A Newspaper Article 335

3.3.5 A Book 336

3.3.6 A Book or Article with More Than One Author 336

3.3.7 A Book or Article with an Unknown Author 336

3.3.8 An Encyclopedia Entry 337

3.3.9 A Dictionary 337

3.3.10 A Book with an Institutional Author 338

3.3.11 A Book with an Editor 338

3.3.12 A Selection in a Book with an Editor 338

3.3.13 A Republished Work 338

3.3.14 AnAbstract 339

3.3.15 A Source Mentioned by Another Source 339

3.3.16 A Book Review 340

3.3.17 A Government Document 340

3.3.18 A Letter to the Editor 340

3.3.19 A Published Interview 341

3.3.20 A Film, Videotape, or Online Video 341

3.3.21 A Television Program 341

3.3.22 A Musical Recording 342

3.3.23 A Computer Program 342

3.4 Citing Electronic Sources 342

3.4.1 An Electronic Version of an Article Also in Print 343



Contents xix

3.4.2 An Article Only on the Internet 343

3.4.3 An Electronic Text 344

3.4.4 An Article or Abstract from a Library Database 344

3.4.5 A Part of a Work 345

3.4.6 An Online Journal 345

3.4.7 A Newspaper Article 345

3.4.8 An Entire Web Page 346

3.4.9 An Article on a Web Site 346

3.4.10 An Audio Podcast 346

3.4.11 A Blog 347

3.4;12 A Wiki 347

3.4.13 Discussion Lists 347

3.4.14 E-Mail 348

Part Four: Sample Paper in APA Style 348

“What’s Love Got to Do with It? Compatability and Marital Success” by Jennifer Suittor 349

Appendix C Understanding Research Assignments 359 Analyzing the Purpose of the Assignment 360

Argumentative Research: Open or Closed? 361

Audience 362

Emphasis on Formal Qualities 363

Types of Evidence: Primary or Secondary 365

Index 367



Preface Placing Inquiry at the Heart of the Course

Several years ago, the Boyer Commission offered a national report on the state of undergraduate education in America’s research universities. The report was sobering. Among other things, the com­ mission complained that undergraduates, particularly first- and second-year students, experience a curriculum dominated by knowl­ edge transmission-large lectures rather than seminars-and rarely get the chance to “enter a world of discovery in which they are active participants, not passive receivers.” Commission members called for a “radical reconstruction” of undergraduate education. “The ecology of the university,” they wrote, “depends on a deep and abiding under­ standing that inquiry, investigation, and discovery are the heart of the enterprise…. Everyone at a university should be a discoverer, a learner.” The freshman year, in particular, should provide “new stimulation for intellectual growth and a firm grounding in inquiry­ based learning.”

The Curious Researcher answers that call. It is a sad fact that most students misunderstand formal academic research. Because it often reports conclusions-the results of the process of inquiry­ students naturally assume that the research writer didn’t engage in an act of inquiry in the first place. They assume that the aca­ demic writer always sets out to prove rather than to find out, that she scrupulously avoids ambiguity and is more concerned with answers than questions. The conventional research paper in the composition course-often students’ first introduction to academic research-reinforces all of these mistaken assumptions about the nature of inquiry.

Teaching the Spirit of Inquiry

While The Curious Researcher features plenty of material on the conventions of research writing-citation methods, approaches to organization, evaluating sources, how to avoid plagiarism, and so on-a major emphasis of the book is introducing students to the




Preface xxi

spirit of inquiry. The habits of mind that good research writers develop is something we can teach that is truly multidisciplinary. That spirit is charged with curiosity, of course-the itch to know and learn and discover. But it also involves the ability to ask researchable questions, the instinct to look in the right places for answers, a willingness to suspend judgment, and an openness to changing one’s mind. Embracing the spirit of inquiry must begin with the belief that one can be an inquirer, a knower, an active agent in making knowledge.

I think this affective dimension of critical thinking is under­ rated, especially when it comes to writing research papers. That’s why this book promotes the research essay, a potentially more sub­ jective, less formal, often more exploratory mode than the formal argumentative research paper. The research essay is, I think, a much better introduction to research and research writing and excellent preparation for more conventional academic research because it places the writer in the center of the discourse. As a result, he cannot avoid his role as the main agent of the inquiry nor can he escape the question of his own authority in the conversation about what might be true. When it’s a good experience, the writer of the research essay often adopts a new identity as a knower.

I am often amazed at what students do with this new freedom. I believe little is lost in not prescribing a formal research paper, particularly in an introductory composition course. As students move on from here to their declared majors, they will learn the scholarly conventions of their disciplines from those best equipped to teach them. In the meantime, students will master valuable library skills and learn many of the technical elements of the research paper, such as citation methods and evaluating sources. But most important, students will discover, often for the first time, what college research is really about: using the ideas of others to shape ideas of their own.

Ways of Using This Book

Since procrastination ails many student researchers, this book is uniquely designed to move them through the research pro­ cess, step-by-step and week-by-week, for five weeks, the typical period allotted for the assignment. The structure of the book is flexible, however; students should be encouraged to compress the sequence if their research assignment will take less time or ignore it altogether and use the book to help them solve specific problems as they arise.



xxii Preface

Students who follow the five-week sequence usually find that they like the way The Curious Researcher doesn’t deluge them with information, as do so many other research paper texts. Instead, The Curious Researcher doles information out week-by-week, when it is most needed.

The Introduction, “Rethinking the Research Paper,” chal­ lenges students to reconceive the research paper assignment. For many of them, this will amount to a “declaration of independence.” During “The First Week,” students are encouraged to discover topics they’re genuinely curious about and to learn to develop a “working knowledge” of their topics through library and Web research. This working knowledge will guide them as they decide on a tentative focus for their investigations. In “The Second Week,” students develop a research strategy, hone their skills in evaluat­ ing sources, and then begin working to develop a “focused knowl­ edge” of their topics by systematically searching for information in the library and on the Web. In “The Third Week,” students learn notetaking techniques, the dangers of plagiarism, and tips on how to conduct a search that challenges them to dig more deeply for information. During “The Fourth Week,” students begin writing their drafts; this chapter also gives tips on integrating sources, structure, voice, and beginnings. In “The Fifth Week,” students are guided through the final revision.

In this edition of The Curious Researcher, the details about citation conventions and formats for both the Modern Language Association (MLA) and the American Psychological Association (APA) are in Appendixes A and B, respectively. This organization makes the information easier for students to find and use. Sample student papers-one in MLA format and one in AP A format-are included as well.

Unlike other textbooks, which relegate exercises to the ends of chapters, The Curious Researcher makes them integral to the process of researching and writing the paper. Though techniques such as fastwriting and brainstorming-featured in some of the writing exercises-are now commonplace in many composition classes, they have rarely been applied to research writing and certainly not as extensively as they have been here. Fastwriting is an especially useful tool, not just for prewriting but for open-ended thinking throughout the process of researching and writing the paper. The exercises are also another antidote to procrastina­ tion, challenging students to stay involved in the process as well as providing instructors with a number of short assign­ ments throughout the five weeks that will help them monitor students’ progress.



Preface xxiii

Features of the New Edition

Writing a textbook is like discovering an aunt you never knew you had. She arrives unexpectedly one summer and stands at your door beaming and expectant. Naturally, you welcome her in. How charming she is, and as you get to know your aunt you get to know yourself. This is her gift to you. At some point, many months later, you see her luggage by the door, and with a certain sadness you send her off. “Come again,” you yell as she ambles off. “Come again any­ time. I’ll miss you!” And you do. Your fondness for this newly discov­ ered relative grows as you learn that others, people who aren’t even blood related, like her too.

Two years later, your aunt appears at your door again, and of course you’re glad to see her. She inhabits your house for the sum­ mer, and, while she does get a bit demanding, that doesn’t diminish your fondness for the old girl, at least not much. You’ve grown to know her well, and while familiarity doesn’t breed contempt you do develop a slight weariness. You’ve heard all the same stories a few times, and her voice, well, her voice can get a bit irritating at times. This time when she leaves you confess that you’re just a little bit relieved, happy to move on to other things.

Call to Action

Calculate Price

Price (USD)