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THE ACADEMIC RESEARCH PAPER (RP)

Academic assignments tend to:



1 Be written for a specialist audience
2 Contain quite a lot of jargon/specialist terms
3 Assume prior knowledge on the part of the reader about key assignment subject material
4 Be written in very formal, academic English
5 Be typed or word-processed
6 Contain full and complete bibliographies
7 Use lots of footnotes and endnotes
8 Make use of in-text references to works by other writers (i.e. without actual quotations)
9 Make use of lengthy quotations with references (lengthy quotations separated from the main text)

Characteristics of academic papers:



1 Use of a high proportion of Latinate/formal vocabulary
2 Use of a significant proportion of Anglo-Saxon/down-to-earth vocabulary
3 Use words/phrases indicating a subjective, perhaps judgmental stance where appropriate
4 Be divided into sections corresponding to the sections in the assignment questions
5 Be divided into sections corresponding to the logical structure of the assignment
6 Use clear signposting frequently (There are three points of relevance here: firstly/secondly/ thirdly)
7 Use clear logical connectors frequently (because, thus, therefore, in this way)
8 Employ sentences of an average length of ???
9 Be written in paragraphs of an average length of???

I. INTRODUCTION SECTIONS1

It is widely recognized that writing introductions is slow, difficult and troublesome for both native speakers and nonnative
speakers. The beginning is half the whole. (Plato). Writing the Introduction of an RP is particularly troublesome. In some
kinds of texts (term papers, case reports), it is possible to start immediately with a topic or thesis statement:
The purpose of this paper is to
This paper describes and analyses
My aim in this paper is to
In this paper we report on

Creating a research space (CARS model)

Table 1 Moves in Research Paper Introductions


Move 1 Establishing a research territory
a. by showing that the general research area is important, central, interesting,
problematic, or relevant in some way (optional)
b. by introducing and reviewing items of previous research in the area (obligatory)
Move 2 Establishing a niche
a. by indicating a gap in the previous research, raising a question about it, or extending
previous knowledge in some way (obligatory).
Move 3 Occupying the niche
a. by outlining purposes or stating the nature of the present research (obligatory)
b. by announcing principal findings (optional)
c. by indicating the structure of the RP (optional)

Move 1 - Claiming Centrality

Recently, there has been growing interest in


The possibility of has generated wide interest in
The development of is a classic problem in
The development of has led the hope that
The has become a favourite topic for analysis
Knowledge of has a great importance for
The study of has been extensively studied in recent years
A central issue in is

1
Adapted from Swales, John M & Christine B. Feak, Academic Writing for Graduate Students (MI: The University of Michigan Press, 1994).

In ecology, a niche is a particular microenvironment: where a particular organism can thrive. In our case, a niche is a context where a particular piece of
research makes particularly good sense.
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Many investigators have recently turned to
The relationship between has been investigated by many researchers
Many recent studies have focused on
Move 2 - Establishing a niche
Indicating a gap critique

Task 1
Decide how NEGATIVE the following verbs and adjectives are:
However, previous research in the field has ___________________.

___ a. concentrated on X. ___ g. neglected to consider X.


___ b. disregarded X. ___ h. overestimated X.
___ c. failed to consider X. ___ i. overlooked X.
___ d. ignored X. ___ j. been restricted to X.
___ e. been limited to X. ___ k. suffered from X.
___ f. misinterpreted X. ___ l. underestimated X.

Nevertheless, these attempts to establish a link between secondary smoke and lung cancer are at present _____.

___ a. controversial. ___ e. questionable.


___ b. incomplete. ___ f. unconvincing.
___ c. inconclusive. ___ g. unsatisfactory.
___ d. misguided.

Task 2
What other linguistic means to indicate a gap can you think of?

Of course, not all RP Introductions express Move 2 by indicating an obvious gap. You may prefer, for various reasons, to
avoid negative comment altogether. Useful alternatives:

a) Contrastive statements:
The research has tended to focus on , rather than on
These studies have emphasised , as opposed to
Although considerable research has been devoted to, rather less attention has been paid to
b) Raising a question, a hypothesis or a need
However, it remains unclear whether
It would thus be of interest to learn how
If these results could be confirmed, they would provide strong evidence for
These findings suggest that this treatment might not be so efficient when applied to
It would seem, therefore, that further investigations are needed in order to
c) Continuing a line of research
These recent developments in techniques for validating multiple-choice tests clearly have considerable potential. In this
paper, we demonstrate

Move 3 - Occupying the Niche

The aim of the present paper is to give


This paper reports on the results obtained
The main purpose of the experiment
The study was designed to evaluate
The present work extends the use of the last model by
The primary focus of this paper is on
The aim of this investigation was to test
It is the purpose of the present paper to provide

CONCLUSION SECTIONS

In the conclusion section you should step back and take a broad look at your findings and your study as a whole.
(Weissberg & Buker, 1990, 160).

Effective conclusion sections are similar to effective lectures, which are based on points (interpretive) rather than facts
(descriptive). Conclusions should be more than summaries. They should go beyond results and be:
- more theoretical
- more abstract
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- more general
- more integrated with the field
- more concerned with implications and applications.

Table 2 - Conclusion Moves


Move 1 Points to consolidate your research space, i.e. summary (obligatory) (quite extensive)
Move 2 Points to indicate the limitations to your study (optional but common) (quite short)
Move 3 Points to identify useful areas of further research (optional and only common in some areas) (quite
short)

USING THE WORK OF OTHER RESEARCHERS AND WRITERS AND TECHNIQUES FOR AVOIDING
PLAGIARISM
PROPER CITATION

a) footnoting format
the act of giving credit to the original author by providing the reader with the authors name, the original publication
name, and some other important pieces of information such as year of publication, place of publication, publishers name,
and page numbers. (Smith, Peter and John Kaplan, A Handbook for Writers. London: Addison Wesley Longman Ltd,
1996, 37.)
b) imbedded Harvard Style
Smith and Kaplan (1996, 37) define citation as the act of giving credit to the original author by providing the reader with
the authors name, the original publication name, and some other important pieces of information such as year of
publication, place of publication, publishers name, and page numbers.
Bibliography:
Smith, Peter and John Kaplan (1996), A Handbook for Writers. London: Addison Wesley Longman Ltd, 37.

1) DIRECT QUOTATIONS
2) PARAPHRASING (isolate the essential ideas in a text; restructure the sentences; and use synonyms or related words,
as well as change the form of words)
3) SUMMARISING

Tasks
1. Compare the passage below and the paraphrase of it. What language techniques were used to write the paraphrase?

Original passage The paraphrase


Students frequently overuse direct quotation in taking In research papers students often quote
notes, and as a result they overuse quotations in their final excessively, and consequently quoted
research paper. Probably only about 10% of your final material is not kept down to a desirable
manuscript should appear as directly quoted matter. level. Since the problem usually originates
Therefore, you should strive to limit the amount of exact during note taking, it is essential to
transcribing of source materials while taking notes. minimize the material recorded verbatim.
Lester, James D. Writing Research Papers. 2nd ed. (1976): 46-47.

2. Alternating word forms.


a)
to succeed (verb) to persevere (verb) to write (verb)
success (noun) perseverance (noun) writer (noun)
____________ _____________ ___________

Original sentence:
A writers success is often due to perseverance.
Possible paraphrases:
A writer often succeeds because of perseverance.

b) Paraphrase each of the following sentences by changing the italicized words or phrases:
1. A variety of definitions of Romanticism have been proposed over the years. (define)
2. The Gothic terror has long been considered one of the most important factors influencing
performance in film versions of Dracula. (perform)
3. Early research focused on traits, or personality characteristics, typically found in villains who had
achieved success. (typical; successful)
4. Later researchers recognized that terror also involves the relationship between a menacing villain and
a helpless heroine. (relate)

c) What can the following phrases be used to express?


X has expressed a similar view

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X has drawn attention to the fact that
X found/discovered that
X argues/disagrees with/questions that
As X points out
A study by X indicates/describes/reports on
X claims/believes that
Research by X suggests/recommends that

d) Which of the following are acceptable as far as acknowledging the source of information is concerned?
Original:
Degradation of soil, deforestation and desertification have during the 1980s created a new class of displaced people:
environmental refugees. Growing human pressure has triggered off a self-reinforcing process of ecological deterioration,
and more people are being affected by natural catastrophes. .

1. As Widgren (1990: 759) has pointed out, a new class of displaced person (environmental refugees)
emerged in the 1980s as a result of soil degradation, desertification and deforestation.
2. Both lack of water and superabundance of water have contributed to the growing number of
environmental refugees in the world (Widgren, 1990).
3. In the article International migration and regional stability (International Affairs, 66, 4, 1990,
p.759), Jonas Widgren distinguishes a rapidly growing new class of displaced people, namely
environmental refugees.
4. Widgren (1990: 759) points out that while lack of water may be one reason forcing people to move, an
excess of water may also be responsible, with deforestation of upland watersheds the main factor
behind the growing severity of floods like the one which ravaged Bangladesh in 1988 leaving 25 million
homeless.

COHESION
What is the difference between a pile of stones and a stone wall?
between lines of words and a good piece of written English?
A. Here are two versions of a fable from Aesop, one well written and the other badly written. In terms of
organisation and cohesion, what four things does the good writer do that the other doesnt?

A vixen who had four young cubs was walking down a road one A vixen was walking down a road one
day when she met a lioness with her cub.
The vixen started to boast about her family, saying that she day and had four young cubs and a
had four cubs, whereas the poor lioness only had one.
vixen met a lioness with a cub and a
Only one, replied the lioness, but hes a lion!
vixen started to boast about a vixens
family and said a vixen had four cubs
and a lioness only had one cub but one
cub was a lion.