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Multi-Methods ApproachBook Report

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¶ … Kate Turabian's a Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations, 8th Edition

The Eighth Edition of Turabian's Manual for Writers of Research Papers is divided into three main sections: Part 1 -- Research and Writing: From Planning to Production, Part 2 -- Source Citation, and Part 3 -- Style. Each section deals with the essential steps of the research process and covers the basics of what the academic researcher needs to know, from mechanics of grammar to formulating a hypothesis. The purpose of the book is to give students the tools to authoritatively design, draft, and execute a research project.

The book opens with a discussion of the "aims of research" and what is expected of a research project.[footnoteRef:1] The authors highlight several themes that will carry them through the first section of the book. They identify planning, questioning, note-taking, and organizing as imperatives. [1: Kate L. Turabian, A Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations, Eighth Edition (IL: University of Chicago Press), 3.]

Chapter 1 deals with "How Researchers Think about Their Aims" and begins by listing the three types of questions a researcher should ask himself: What to Think? What to Do? And How to answer "So What?" The "So What?" question is an important one for researchers because it allows one to anticipate how the reader might react to the information presented and prepare the paper accordingly. It must always be remembered that one's research project is not written for oneself but rather for a real, actual audience that will be critical and that will ask questions. Thus, preparing for those questions is essential and anticipating is key.[footnoteRef:2] [2: Kate L. Turabian, A Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations, Eighth Edition (IL: University of Chicago Press), 7.]

Part of the ability to anticipate stems from knowing the different types of questions: there are conceptual questions as well as practical questions. Conceptual questions relate to what one should think and regards proper understanding of a problem or topic. Practical questions refer to how to deal with a problem, steps that one can take, etc. There are also applied questions, and these refer to the basics of knowledge as in what one must know before one can begin to discuss practical solutions. Applied questions act as links between stages of development. They allow questions and answers to build upon one another until a veritable application or process of thought has been delineated.

Before beginning it is important to choose the right type of question for your research, whether conceptual, practical or applied. The way in which you choose to approach your subject will bear on the ways in which you go about addressing the information contained therein.

Chapter 2 discusses the progression from choosing a topic to choosing a question and a working hypothesis. There are many ways to formulate a question whether through active participation in analysis or through intuition. The authors recommend various methods such as posing questions that are analogous to what other researchers have posed and expanding upon a theme, or addressing questions that have been raised in the past but which have not yet been addressed by anyone. The Internet is even a place where one can "browse" or "lurk" discussion boards in order to harvest ideas or problems that people are having regarding a certain subject or idea.[footnoteRef:3] The important thing to remember when devising a suitable question for research, however, is that it neither be too easy to answer nor impossible to find evidence that could support an answer. The question should also be one whose answer may plausibly be argued or even disproved by others. Thus, a good question is one that welcomes or even initiates debate and/or controversy. Controversy is a sign of progression according to many researchers, because truth is what is at stake and arriving at some truth is what real research is all about. [3: Kate L. Turabian, A Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations, Eighth Edition (IL: University of Chicago Press), 17.]

The third and fourth chapters discuss the importance of finding and engaging useful sources, from primary to tertiary source material. Evidential data should be gleaned from primary sources, whereas secondary sources provide data regarding what other researchers have concluded concerning various topics. The key when dealing with secondary sources is to identify contradictions, whether in historical development, cause-effect externalities, or perspective. Notes are extremely important when reading sources and devising a template for notes is especially helpful. Such a template would typically include citation material, keywords identified in the source, quotes recorded in a "distinctive" style so as to stand out better, and paraphrasing in a distinctive style as well.[footnoteRef:4] [4: Kate L. Turabian, A Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations, Eighth Edition (IL: University of Chicago Press), 41.]

Most importantly, however, this section gives suggestions on how to prepare for research and how to go about organizing the information. It emphasizes the usage of primary sources whenever possible and also advises "springboarding" from source to source in order to develop a repertoire of sources. This means that there is no need to scatter around to locate source material. Rather, it is more helpful to find one article that is informative and then identify the sources used in that article, locate them, read them, identify key words used in them, and thus create a database of key words and source leads. Oftentimes, random sources can lead to the best finds in research, so one should not limit one's research to search engines or key words, but rather use the references and bibliographies of other researches as starting points as well. This will give the student a good idea of what other researchers have done in the past, which scholars are frequently cited, and which articles or journals are most often utilized by other academics who have inquired into the same subject.

Chapter 5 describes how to plan an argument and notes the importance of using evidence and logic to support your claim or thesis. This is where source material can be useful, for whenever you make an assertion in research that is not common knowledge, it should be supported either by other researchers or by primary sources that show data to support your claim. Making unsupported statements will quickly cause your research to be dismissed as full of unsubstantiated claims. Such claims come across as amateurish and unscientific. Therefore, when asserting it is best to show the source that supports your assertion: that way your reader can go back to the source, whether primary or secondary and compare it with the assertion that you make to see whether it is credible or not. It is also helpful to consider the reader's point-of-view and anticipate objections that he or she might make to your research. This allows you to be both objective in your development of your project and prepared for alternative ways and methods of thinking about your subject. The chapter also provides numerous examples of different arguments one might make and how the parts fit together, giving the student a good idea of the working parts of argumentative writing.

The next nine chapters elaborate on the planning that goes into a first draft, and includes such concepts as storyboarding, sketching an introduction, identifying key terms used to express the unifying concepts of the report, subheading, ordering the paper, and sketching a conclusion. It includes sections on revising and on how to craft a proper introduction and conclusion. One of several important points that these chapters makes is that you should not organize your project as though you were writing a mystery novel. The point of a research project is to be upfront about everything and be as specific as possible about exactly how the report is going to proceed. This means labeling each section so that the reader knows ahead of time what will appear where. The reader should also be informed as to the flow and direction of the report. The abstract, for example, should summarize the research project and can include the conclusions that the researcher has drawn from the findings. The point is to keep the reader completely informed from the beginning and not to leave the reader in the dark or attempt to surprise the reader with findings. What the research paper essentially strives to be is an account of what you did, why, and the results and what they mean.[footnoteRef:5] [5: Kate L. Turabian, A Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations, Eighth Edition (IL: University of Chicago Press), 63.]

This section of the book also stresses the importance of ethics when it comes to sharing data/information in your research. It is vital that researchers honestly report results even if it proves the hypothesis incorrect. The purpose of research is not to be "correct" in one's hypothesis but rather to test a hypothesis. Accurate results are more important than being "right"… [END OF PREVIEW]

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