Presentation on theme: "Why is writing an essay so frustrating? Learning how to write an essay can be a maddening, exasperating process, but it doesn't have to be. If you know."— Presentation transcript:
Why is writing an essay so frustrating? Learning how to write an essay can be a maddening, exasperating process, but it doesn't have to be. If you know the steps and understand what to do, writing can be easy and even fun.
Step 1: Research You will pick out a broad topic on the Yellow Fever Epidemic (using your background notes). Your first task is to research this topic. You will not be able to write intelligently about a topic you know nothing about. To discover worthwhile insights, you'll have to do some patient reading. Begin by doing searches on the Internet about your topic to familiarize yourself with the basic issues; then move to more thorough research on the Academic Databases; finally, probe the depths of the issue by burying yourself in the library. Make sure that despite beginning on the Internet, you don't simply end there. A research paper using only Internet sources is a weak paper, and puts you at a disadvantage for not utilizing better information from more academic sources.
Take a little from a lot You'll need to read widely in order to gather sources on your topic. As you integrate research, take a little from a lot -- that is, quote briefly from a wide variety of sources. This is the best advice there is about researching. Too many quotations from one source, however reliable the source, will make your essay seem unoriginal and borrowed. Too few sources and you may come off sounding inexperienced. When you have a lot of small quotations from numerous sources, you will seem -- if not be -- well-read, knowledgeable, and credible as you write about your topic.
Researching on the Internet While the Internet should never be your only source of information, it would be ridiculous not to utlize its vast sources of information. You should use the Internet to acquaint yourself with the topic more before you dig into more academic texts. When you search online, remember a few basics:
Use a variety of search engines.edu (educational site) (K-12 schools, colleges). Information from these sites must be viewed very carefully. If it is from a department or research center at an educational institution, it can generally be taken as credible. However, students’ personal Web sites are not usually monitored by the school even though they are on the school server and use the.edu domain..gov (government site) If you come across a site in this domain, then you are viewing a federal government site. All branches of the United States federal government use this domain. Information such as Census statistics, Congressional hearings, and Supreme Court rulings would be included in sites with this domain.
.org (organization site). This site is traditionally from non-profit organizations. Generally, the information in these type of sites is credible and unbiased, but there are examples of organizations that strongly advocate specific points of view over others, such as The National Right to Life Committee and Planned Parenthood..com (commercial site) The information provided by commercial interests is generally going to shed a positive light on the product it promotes. While this information may not necessarily be false, you might only be getting part of the picture.
.net (network sites) You might find any kind of site under this domain suffix. It acts as a catch-all for sites that don’t fit into any of the proceeding domain suffixes.
Keywords Keywords are an important part of refining Internet searches; with so much information on the Internet, it is important to learn how to filter through in order to find pertinent information. It is especially important to learn this skill in middle school before you start high school, where you will be expected to write longer research papers.
If you were assigned an informational paper on George Washington and the Battle of Trenton, how would you go about finding information on the internet? Searching only “George Washington” yields about 251,000,000 results Searching only “Revolutionary War” yields about 53,500,000 Searching only “Battle of Trenton” yields about 12,400,000 Searching “George Washington” and “Battle of Trenton” yields only 127,000 results.
The more specific the keywords, the fewer and more pertinent the results. What keywords will you use for your topic?
How do I know if my source is credible? As we write our informational pieces, we want to make sure that our readers believe the points we are presenting them. Think about it…what makes you want to buy a pair of shoes or an i-pod? Yes, some sort of evidence that the product works well. Our writing is the same way. We want our readers to buy into it.
Credible Sources To do that, we must have credible sources to back up our writing. Our sources must prove themselves believable and accurate prior to us using them into our writing.
Is it Credible? Anyone can publish on the Web, therefore, it is imperative for users of the Web to develop a critical eye to evaluate the credibility of Internet information.
Is it Credible? 1. Is there any evidence that the author of the Web information has some authority in the field about which he or she is providing information? What are the author’s qualifications, credentials and connections to the subject? 2.. With what organization or institution is the author associated? Is there a link to the sponsoring organization, a contact number and/or contact. A link to an association does not necessarily mean that the organization approved this content.
Is it Credible? 3. Does the author have publications in peer reviewed (scholarly and professional) publications, on the Web or in hard copy? If an author does not have peer reviewed articles published, this does not mean that he or she does not have credible information, only that there has been no professional “test” of the author’s authority on that subject. 4. Are there clues that the author(s) are biased? For example, is he or she selling or promoting a product? Is the author taking a personal stand of a social/political issue or is the author being objective? Bias is not necessarily “bad,” but the connections should be clear.
Is it Credible 5. Is the Web information current? If there are a number of out-of-date links that do not work or old news, what does this say about the credibility of the information? 6. Does the information have a complete list of works cited, which reference credible, authoritative sources? If the information is not backed up with sources, what is the author’s relationship to the subject to be able to give an “expert” opinion?
Don’t limit yourself to the internet DISCUS offers students a variety of academic online resources.
Researching the library You will also be using the media center at school and/or your town library to find books on your topic. Your final paper MUST include citations from at least one academic source and one book.