Research article moves and steps

X, although I’m not seeing you explicitly include this move in your paper, I find it very obviously implicit. . . .I, therefore, think it’s probably okay that you’re not making this move explicit, but you may want to ask another reader within your discipline whether he/she thinks in fact you do need to be more explicit in this step. . . .and if you find this paper ends up shorter than the minimum word length for your target journal, remember developing this step to be more explicit would be a good means of lengthening your paper J)


Move 1

  • Of course, the final (post-English-101D!) form of this research article will almost certainly need to reference more sources than just the 3 you’ve currently listed!

Move 2

  • X, you’ve done an outstanding job of accomplishing this move J
  • You indicate the gap implicitly when you outline the structure of your paper, but your introduction would be more powerful/attractive if you indicated the gap your paper fills more explicitly — make sense?
  • X, while you hint at problems your study can resolve and at hypotheses you want your study to test, you don’t clearly and explicitly identify the niche your study will fill. In my (admittedly limited) reading of the research across a wide range of fields, it is highly unusual for writers to be so inexplicit about what niche their study will fill – because unless readers are convinced that the research paper’s topic is important and/or groundbreaking, they won’t bother with reading it. Move 2 is where you “advertise” your paper to its potential audience. Unless they are convinced of the value of your “product,” they won’t “buy” it (i.e., won’t spend the time on reading it). Make sense? Please therefore check other research articles in your field to see whether they are more explicit than you. Maybe I’m wrong for your field (but I’m pretty sure I’m right).

Move 3

  • This move is also performed very well J
  • X, you haven’t made clear specifically what unique value your paper adds to the ongoing discussion of energy sources. Why do people need to read your paper? What does your paper contribute that other papers haven’t already said?
  • Is “areas” the preferred term to use for this move 3 step? (Check RWT to see)
  • X, although you’ve told us you’ve created a model, you haven’t let us know how well your model seems to be working in terms of match to the data, etc. That is, I can’t know from your introduction whether your research has really addressed the gap you’ve identified. Your introduction would be much better if it indicated, at least briefly, the value of YOUR contribution. Make sense? (You mention this in more detail at the end of your literature review, but in fact, your contribution isn’t part of the literature (yet!), so shouldn’t be located in the literature review, right?)
    • Have you used the phrase “solution approach” before? Will your reader already know about the specific “solution approach” you’re talking about? If not, you may want to consider making it clear by using the possessive pronoun “our” instead. Make sense? (You also want to do this because it’s VERY important that what YOU have contributed to the field is clear to readers. You don’t want them to think you’re talking here about some solution someone else has proposed! Make sense?)
  • Check in COCA — What punctuation mark usually follows the phrase “In this paper”? (Try using the exact COCA search term “In this paper *“)
  • I’m confused here. Are you talking about what your present paper WILL do or what researchers USUALLY do? (Your “will” in this sentence suggests the former, but the fact that in no place does this sentence explicitly say anything like “in this paper” suggests that the sentence is continuing to talk about what researchers usually do (just like your previous sentence did). I’m SO confused! Please clarify. (Also, if this sentence IS talking about the present paper, is it best located here or later in your introduction?

Data Commentary

  • Does my data commentary overview the meaning of  my figure?
    • Yes, your data commentary is one of the best I’ve seen at overviewing the meaning of your figure J
    • Yes, but at some points not clearly (as described in my comments above)
    • Yes, but occasionally not accurately! (Are readers likely to trust your claims that they cannot easily check themselves if they can easily see that you are not trustworthy in accurately describing the aspects of your work that they can check???)
  • Does my data commentary explaining likely reasons for the data communicated by my figure?
    • Your data commentary is also one of the best I’ve read at explaining reasons for the data communicated by your figure J
    • Yes (Though you frequently express your suggested reasons as facts instead of as the suggested possible reasons they actually are 🙁 )
    • Not really, but it is nevertheless effective given the nature of your figure
    • Certainly you have attempted to do this, but as one of my comments above describes, I think that (in light of historic U.S. economic trends) your suggestion that U.S. students in 2010-2014 were paid a lower salary than students in 2003-2007 is unlikely. I therefore think that if you adjust your suggested reason to refer to buying power instead, it will be more credible — make sense?
  • Does my data commentary outline what the trends in my data suggest for the future?
    • Yes, you suggest several ways in which these data could be further investigated in future studies J
    • Yes, but I’m very sure that people in the past who didn’t have access to all our high-tech devices would disagree with your claim that “life is getting harder second by second.” Isn’t it more realistic to conclude that life is getting harder in some ways, but that it’s also gotten easier in many, many other ways?
    • Not at all L (Did you check your data commentary based on my rubric as assigned???)
  • Does my data commentary explicitly invite readers to look at my figure?
    • When you begin overviewing the meaning of a figure, it’s good to signal that to reader with a phrase such as “As shown in Figure 1,. . . .” – make sense?

    • X, data commentaries in research articles generally provide explicit direction to readers regarding the location of any table they introduce, e.g. “The table above” or “The above table” or “Table A above” – Make sense?

    • Do research articles usually mention that the results of a survey were summarized and compared in a table, without indicating where the table is located? (Isn’t phrasing such as “The results of the survey are summarized and compared in the table above” or “. . . are summarized and compared in Table A” more likely?)
    • X, if you’ve already said “As is shown in the chart above,” isn’t your “we can see that this table” redundant?

Formatting and referring to tables and figures

  • X, your figure needs a caption that allows readers to understand the figure’s basic meaning immediately — without first reading your in-text description of that figure. (See for more information)
  • Do you think writing out the numbers “one” and “two” in these labels will be clearer/easier for your readers to understand than your just using the numerals “1” and 2″? Or are you writing out these numbers as words because that’s what’s required by 1) your field’s preferred style manual or 2) your target journal’s style requirements?
  • Compare the search terms “Figure [mc*]” and “Fig . [mc*]” in COCA.  In light of your findings (unless your target journal clearly prefers writers to use the abbreviated “Fig.” instead of the spelled-out “Figure” in the main text of their articles), what is the best spelling for you to use? (I know COCA contradicts what SRW, pp. 138-139, suggests is the preferred research article spelling of the word “figure.” Nevertheless, in the very few cases where COCA and SRW do disagree, it’s almost certainly best to follow COCA, which is grounded in probably several thousand research articles, whereas SRW — although it is very good overall! — is probably grounded in only several hundred).

Apparent discrepancy between the textual description of figures and the figures themselves

  • How do you know that students’ “nap time” reduced in 2003-2007? The table doesn’t say that. . . .
    • I can see that the 2010-2014 students work harder than the 2003-2007 students, but where in the table does it indicate that they play harder??? I’m VERY confused!
      • I can see that the 2010-2014 students work harder than the 2003-2007 students, but where in the table does it indicate that they play harder??? I’m VERY confused! This claim is not at all supported by the table :(.
  • Which students? The students from the 2003-2007 period? The students from the 2010-2014 period? Both groups of students? (While your intended meaning can be figured out from the table, in fact, your text description of the table should be clear without requiring readers to check the table to figure out such basic ideas as what population your study investigates. How, therefore, can you rephrase this sentence to express your intended meaning more clearly?)
  • Are you sure? This number is not the point on your figure at which your “without generous return policy” APPEARS to reach zero!

Discrepancy between a summary and its source text

  • X, your one-paragraph summary is basically clear and accurate, but your one-sentence summary seems to be saying basically the exact opposite of what the video actually said. I’m very confused about how this could have happened!

Writing in-text citations

  • X, your introduction contains no in-text citations and no reference list!?!
  • X, although you included a reference list, your introduction didn’t actually cite them. . . .How do research articles in your field structure in-text citations?
  • Are authors’ given/first names usually included in in-text citations in your field? Please doublecheck this
  • Don’t citations in your field usually follow the information being cited? (So “Other researchers used different methods to model the prediction target, e.g., the Bayesian Dynamic Linear Model (Xiang, 2011) and Real-Time Estimation (Mattila, 2003).
  • X, according to the style manual used in your field, should references be located before or after punctuation marks such as periods/full stops or commas?
  • X, when you say “Stone et al., 2010,” are you referring to “Wei & Stone, 2010” from your reference list? Please verify that you’re following your field’s in-text citation and reference list (including that you’re basing both on a single citation style).
  • Are you sure you want to use this researcher’s full name here?
    • Are you using this researcher’s full name because there are two people with the last name and initial “Walen, H.” who do research in your field? If not, please check your field’s style manual (but I’m pretty sure the standard usage it recommends for in-text citations is either just last name — like my field — or last name, plus first initial[ like in most cases your introduction uses]).
    • In my field, in-text citations usually include only an author’s last/family name, unless our paper cites two authors with the same last name. What are your field’s in-text citation norms?
      • In my field, in-text citations include only authors’ last/family names (unless there are multiple researchers that we’re citing who share the same last name). What are the norms for this in your field?
  • Is this the standard form for two-author in-text citations in your field? I’ve not seen two-author citations connected with a comma before. . . . (If Zotero or whatever reference manager you’re using is making a mistake in formatting your two-author citations, I’m pretty sure there’s a way you can update its templates)
  • Is this how two papers regarding a single concept are cited in your field? Please check your citation formatting. . . .
  • Please check whether or not your field’s style manual and/or the style requirements of your target publication journal for this article require a space before in-text citations. I strongly suspect they do.
  • Maybe the citation norms for your field are different, but I wonder if Zotero or whatever reference manager is making a mistake here in referring to multi-page documents using just “p.” In most citation styles, single page documents are referred to using “p.” and multi-page documents using “pp.” Check your field’s style manual (or that of your target publication journal) and if Zotero really is making an error, I’m pretty sure there’s a way you can update its template for this 🙂
  • Also, why do your in-text citations (mostly) use a different font than the rest of your introduction? Clearly you just copied and pasted your references from some other paper. L Have you actually read all these other papers??? (This is the #1 question likely to come to a professor’s/editor’s mind if you turn in a paper formatted like this — but obviously, it’s NOT a question you want them asking, since such a question means they question your credibility as an honest researcher!)

If possible, locate references where they won’t interrupt readers attempting to follow your flow of logic

  • Are all of these references dealing with models based on a single sphere in a fluid domain? If yes, it would be better to include your references at the end of this sentence, where they’ll be less interrupting to your reader as he/she attempts to follow/understand what you’re saying — Make sense?
  • Yes, although I wonder whether you really want to put so much focus on the specific researchers who performed the studies you cite (by including most of their names as the subject of a sentence) vs. on the contribution their study made to the research literature. If your goal is to put focus on the researchers’ contribution vs. on the researchers themselves, you should probably make the contribution itself the subject of most of your sentences, not the researchers’ names — make sense?

Writing reference lists

  • X, where is your reference list?
  • X, your introduction contains no in-text citations and no reference list!?!
  • Are you listing here only one reference?
  • Does your reference list include this source?
  • What’s the initial of this author’s first name? I think you have only his/her last name here.
    • I think you’ve included only this author’s first/given name or only his or her last/family name. Does he/she not have a second name? If so, I’m very sure that the requirements of the style manual used in your field and/or target journal necessitate your correcting this reference!
  • Why are you using the full names of these authors rather than their initials, as in your other references?
  • Does the style manual used in your field require you to write out authors’ full names? Most style manuals require authors only to write out authors’ family/”last” names. Given/”first” names (as well as any middle names) are generally indicated via initials. . . .
  • X, in your field, are second and third authors listed in the order 1) family name and 2) personal name initials or are they listed 1) personal name initials and 2) family name. You’re not consistent. Also, please check your capitalization and whether or not journal names are abbreviated in your field. Again, you’re not consistent (probably because you copied and pasted your reference list citations from a variety of research articles?)
  • Are initials punctuated or not punctuated in your field? You’re inconsistent.
  • The first word of not only article titles, but also article subtitles should be capitalized.
    • Shouldn’t the first word of not only article titles, but also article subtitles be capitalized?
  • X, the immediately previous reference suggests that in your field all important words in the title of a book are capitalized, but here you’re not capitalizing the word “groups”? I’m confused! What are the norms for capitalizing book titles in your field? Certainly, you need to be consistent in whatever style you choose to use!
  • X, I think you were not very careful checking your reference list for easy-to-correct errors, but you were clearly very careful in checking the main part of your introduction. Good job! (Note: I reviewed your reference list very quickly, so I may have missed some of its errors. Please therefore check it very carefully before you resubmit your introduction — Thanks!)
    • Please verify in your field’s and/or target journal’s style manual that this citation includes all required elements and is formatted correctly
  • X, it appears your references are using two different style sheets. Compare your “Physical Review B” to “Phys. Rev. B.” Did you copy and paste these references in from different articles you were reading rather than using a reference manager such as Zotero to build your bibliography? L (Or did your reference manager import incomplete versions of your articles’ metadata?. . . . This is always a risk, so while it’s convenient that reference managers can often automatically import article metadata, it’s also very important that we always check that the metadata they’ve imported is, in fact, correct and complete — Make sense?
  • X, please check the formatting of your references against whatever style manual is commonly used by your field or target publication journal. I’m very certain that your current references are not following any field’s or journal’s citation norms.
    • X, please check the formatting of your references against whatever style manual is commonly used by your field or target publication journal. I’m very certain that your current references are not following any field’s or journal’s citation norms, but that instead you’ve just copied and pasted them from various published papers’ reference lists
  • X, does your field’s style manual require family/last names first or given/first names first? Your reference list is inconsistent about this. . . .incidentally, at exactly the same point where it’s inconsistent about the size of font it uses! 🙁
    • Does your field’s style manual require a space between two initials in a name? In some of your references you include a space, but in others you don’t. . . .
  • Doesn’t the style manual used in your field require that journal names be italicized? (This is a problem throughout your reference list)
    • Shouldn’t this journal title be italicized?
    • Is this a book? If so, I’m almost certain your field’s style manual or target publication journal’s style manual will require it to be italicized.
    • X, you’re missing italics here also. Are you using a reference manager like Zotero or are you manually creating each of your references individually? (It’s easy to make formatting mistakes when you create each reference manually, unless you’re super-careful .)— though, of course, if you use a reference manager, you need always to be careful that it’s imported all the citation information correctly and completely. Otherwise, the reference manager also will produce inconsistently formatted references.
  • Please also check that you’ve capitalized all major words included in publisher names.
  • X, maybe you need to manually update the template for Zotero or whatever other reference management software you’re using. Several of your references are missing spaces where they’re needed. Also, your in-text citation references don’t match your reference list references?
  • Why do you have a space between each of your references besides this one and the one following? L
  • Is the final part of this reference missing?
  • Is it really okay in your field to include a reference that is only a URL?


Research writing style

  • X, because research writing aims to be precise and because figurative language is “by definition imprecise,” research writers (perhaps especially in the sciences and engineering) tend not to use figurative language in their research writing:
  • X, this is definitely advanced descriptive language, but according to COCA, is it commonly used in research writing in engineering or the sciences?

Referring to other researchers

  • Will everyone who reads the published version of your paper know who “Dr. Caughey” is? How can you more acknowledge his contribution in a way more appropriate for a publicly published version of this paper?

Visibility of the author(s) within his/her own writing

  • Also, in your field, do research writers generally explicitly talk about their thinking processes (“We can think of. . .”) or express their opinions as opinions (“We can imagine”)?

Avoiding plagiarism

  • X, because your data commentary includes (a substantial quantity of!!!) plagiarism, in accord with our English 101D syllabus unfortunately the maximum grade I will be able to give you even for your very-carefully-checked-to-include-no-plagiarism revision of this assignment is a D . (Not only does your data commentary copy function words/grammatical patterns — which are totally okay to copy in English — but also the entirety of several sentences. . . . without indicating your quotes in quotation marks and without citing the original source. . . .which, as you should know based on our English 101D plagiarism unit, is totally NOT okay!) If your future papers include obvious plagiarism like this in your data commentary, your academic reputation will basically certainly be damaged.  You definitely need to work on developing your English paraphrasing/citation skills! Please don’t plagiarize again!!!
  • X, unfortunately according to our syllabus (because your data commentary includes plagiarism), the maximum grade I should give you even for your revision of this assignment is a D. However, I really don’t want to do that to you for the first major assignment of our semester because I think your plagiarism in this paper was probably accidental — in spite of the fact that I very quickly and easily identified in your data commentary two obvious instances of plagiarism (where not only did you copy function words/grammatical patterns — which are totally okay to copy in English — but also, according to Google, the EXACT SAME embedding of technical terms INSIDE these grammatical patterns that other writers have used, without indicating your quotes in quotation marks and without citing the original source!). Nevertheless, my guess is that you probably thought this copying was okay because your plagiarized sections are relatively short (less than a sentence in both cases). . . .and for some top international journals in your field, this degree of plagiarism may in fact be considered okay by editors/reviewers, depending on their strictness. However, in the case of more strict journal editors/reviewers — especially if your future papers include obvious plagiarism like that in your data commentary, it could hurt your academic reputation — so you definitely do still need to work on developing your English paraphrasing skills! Therefore, although I need to give you a 0% on this assignment for now because of its plagiarism, if you revise your data commentary in a way that eliminates this problem, I’ll go ahead and allow you to receive a potential final grade of up to 100% for successfully revising your data commentary in light of my feedback — in spite of our syllabus’ technical requirements regarding plagiarism. Okay?
  • Two sentences in your introduction are functionally plagiarized. The one that contains your (basically plagiarized) definition of reverse logistics may be acceptable according to the norms of your field — I’m not sure. However, the plagiarism in your first sentence I’m basically certain is NOT okay according to the norms of your field (or any field’s prestigious journals!), so needs to be fixed. Because your introduction contains plagiarism, I’m giving it a grade of 0% for now (following our English 101D syllabus guidelines). However, because I suspect your plagiarism was probably not intentional, if you 1) explain to me tomorrow after class why your plagiarized sentences are definitely on the borderline between acceptable use of sources vs. plagiarism and 2) fix these plagiarized sentences in your final introduction draft, I will be VERY happy to forget about them and just grade your final introduction draft based on the same criteria I use to grade the rest of your classmates’ final introduction drafts. Okay?
  • X,

    Several sentences in your introduction are functionally plagiarized in ways that are most definitely NOT okay according to the norms of your field (or any field’s prestigious journals!). While you made minor changes to these sentences’ connecting words, you kept basically all of their key words. While it’s okay, of course, to use the same technical terms as other authors in your field, it’s a BIG problem that your plagiarism additionally preserves most of these sentences NONtechnical keywords as well as much of the original authors’ grammar. This is most definitely NOT acceptable research writing by internationally respected academic journal standards. Therefore, following our English 101D syllabus guidelines, I have no choice but to give your introduction a grade of 0% for right now.

    However, because I suspect your plagiarism was probably not intentional since you did change some of the phrasing, if you could please stop by my Ross 443 office tomorrow in order to 1) explain to me why your plagiarized sentences still most definitely count as plagiarism and 2) fix these plagiarized sentences ASAP (I can give you ideas how!), I will be VERY happy to forget about this and just grade your final introduction draft based on the same criteria I have used to grade the rest of your classmates’ final introduction drafts rather than give you a permanent 0% for your introduction as technically according to my syllabus I should. Okay?

    Please call me at X so we can figure out what to do about this ASAP!


    P.S. If you can’t stop by my office tomorrow, I may also give you an “Incomplete” grade for our English 101D course if you email me indicating that you need more time to resolve this problem (see attached) — but I really hate to do that because “incomplete” grades remain on your transcript forever (even if a later real grade substitutes for them). (I have incomplete grades on my Ph.D. transcript and would really like for you to be able to avoid having them on yours, too!)

Need to cite the source for any information that’s not common knowledge


Phrasing is common in spoken, but not academic written English

  • Compare in COCA’s academic vs. spoken sections the frequency of phrasal verbs such as “find out” vs. its one-word synonyms (“see,” “discover,” etc.). Are phrasal verbs relatively preferred or dispreferred in research writing?
  • Check in COCA — is this phrasing used most commonly in spoken English or academic written English?
  • How frequently is “really” used in research writing?
  • Would this sentence mean anything different if you omitted “exactly” here? Are academic writers likely to use the word “exactly” in the way you’ve used it here?
  • Be especially careful to check that your phrasing is appropriate for academic/research writing, not just for (less formal) spoken English.

Phrasing is common in some disciplines, but not yours

  • Check in COCA – do researchers in science/tech fields more frequently use the phrase “In this work” or “In this paper”?


  • X, this should be “Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is a way. . . .” — so that your readers know from this explicitly defined abbreviation that throughout the remainder of your paper whenever you refer to “CSR,” it means “Corporate Social Responsibility.” If you don’t explicitly define CSR (or other similar abbreviations), you’re forcing your reader to go back to what they’ve already read in order to try to figure out on their own what you mean by “CSR.” This is not fair. It’s not your readers’ job – it’s your job to clearly define all new terms in your paper, so that your readers can read directly from beginning to end and understand each point your paper makes without needing to go back to an earlier part of your paper to figure something out. Make sense?
  • What is ICT? Have you already indicated what the unabbreviated form of this term is? Will all your paper’s intended readers already know?
  • Oops! I think you’re mixing up the pattern for singular vs. plural definitions
  • “Mixtures” consist of “mixture”? Isn’t this a circular definition? (Try using “either” instead J)


Developing critical thinking skills

  • I’m glad to know more about what your previous schooling was like. It’s especially useful to know ” the assignments were like writing answers to questions which teachers taught before hand in the class (students are not encouraged to find their answers).” Actually, I think many of my Asian students from various countries share the same experience. In research, though, (and I think especially in the U.S.!), students ARE encouraged, and in fact expected to figure out answers to questions (and sometimes even what questions they should be asking) by themselves, based on what they’ve read in the research literature and learned in class. If you can learn to do this, it will really help you. And honestly, I think it will help you in your future job, whether you decide to work in academia OR industry. At least in the U.S., employers are looking for and value employees who can think independently, troubleshoot, and to some extent, “think out of the box” in order to find solutions to problems in the field. I don’t know if I’ll be able to help you very much in learning how to do this because I don’t know your field and I don’t know what’s innovative synthesis of previous research findings or developments and what’s not, but if I feel like you’re just “telling me what you think I want to hear,” I’ll let you know that.
  • Another helpful thing to do is always read research articles thinking “How does this connect to my research topic? To other things I’ve read? To other things I’m interested in maybe researching in the future? If you can learn to read with the intention to build a coherent network of knowledge in your brain where you’ve figured out for yourself what connects to what (or COULD connect to what), I think it will really help you both in academia AND in industry or whatever else you decide to do in the future.
  • Research writing IS generally very structured. . . .in many fields, we can’t be creative in HOW we write. However, we can (and I think we must!) learn to be creative in figuring out WHAT’s worth writing about. I hope this makes sense to you. Let’s talk more about it face-to-face if it doesn’t!
  • Also key is knowing for yourself WHY it’s important that you do your study. . . .obviously, you can’t write in a research paper that you’re doing it because your professor told you to! ☺ Therefore, if I were you, before writing a motivation section, I would brainstorm all the reasons you can think of for why you’re doing the study and particularly for why you’re doing it the way you’re doing it (with appropriate research references where you know them). Then, show your professor your list, and ask him/her if you’ve missed anything (He’ll probably be impressed that you did the independent thinking to figure out all the reasons that you did!). Then reorder your list of reasons into some order that makes logical sense and use that as your outline in writing the motivation section — Make sense?
  • I work hard in my feedback to let students know if I have concerns about whether or not they’re successfully presenting high-quality arguments/issues. Of course, I don’t know your fields, so I can’t give the kind of field-specific feedback on your arguments/description of the issues that your professors and/or senior student colleagues, but I will do the best I can.

Reading well to write well

  • Another helpful thing to do is always read research articles thinking “How does this connect to my research topic? To other things I’ve read? To other things I’m interested in maybe researching in the future? If you can learn to read with the intention to build a coherent network of knowledge in your brain where you’ve figured out for yourself what connects to what (or COULD connect to what), I think it will really help you both in academia AND in industry or whatever else you decide to do in the future.

Developing proficiency in writing the research article sub-genres

Communicating your most important points: Resources in English for summarizing/synthesizing:
  • Building your ability to write literature reviews: Your ideas of how to gain ideas for possible thesis topics and structures make a lot of sense to me. In a few weeks, you will be doing summary and synthesis assignments for English 101D. Why don’t you read one or more theses in your field that sound interesting before then, taking notes on anything you think might help you learn how to write a good thesis and for the summary assignment, summarize the content and what you’ve learned about how to write a thesis from the thesis you like best, and for the synthesis assignment, synthesize the content of the multiple theses you’ve read and the key things you’ve learned about how to write thesis overall. In that way, you can not only learn how to write effective summaries and synthesis (on a topic/topics you hopefully find interesting?), but also hopefully, get your future thesis topic chosen and also get a solid idea of how you should plan on structuring your thesis? Make sense?
  • X, the most important comment I need to make regarding this assignment for you is that although I do very much like the content of your writing for this assignment, in fact, according to the definition of the English word “summary,” the ideas of a summary should be 100% from the source presentation or source piece of writing. That is, if you’re writing a summary (vs. writing a critique, endorsement, review, etc.), it shouldn’t have any of your own ideas added to it, though of course, it is written in your own words. If you add your own ideas, you may be writing something that is very interesting, but it won’t fit the definition of a summary. Make sense?
  • X, I think your one-sentence summary isn’t quite complete enough that someone could get from it a completely accurate (though of course undetailed) understanding of the term “power distance.” What could you add to your one-sentence summary to make the meaning of “power distance” clear even to readers who might not read your longer one-paragraph summary?
    • What is missing from your one-sentence summary necessary for making the meaning of “power distance” completely clear to readers who read only this one-sentence summary?
  • X, if someone who had not watched the “What is Power Distance?” video were reading your one-sentence summary, I don’t think they could gain a clear and accurate understanding of what power distance is from just this summary. (Obviously, a one-sentence summary cannot be detailed, but it should nevertheless provide a complete overview — Make sense?)
Explaining why: Resources in English for communicating cause and effect/critique
  • Building your ability to describe the research gap motivating your study: One other thing. . . .we’ll be working in English 101D on the summary and synthesis skills necessary for writing the literature review portion of a research article introduction. You’ll discover, I think, that explaining the motivation for your study and/or development choices requires many of the same skills as writing a synthesis. However, also key is knowing for yourself WHY it’s important that you do your study. . . .obviously, you can’t write in a research paper that you’re doing it because your professor told you to! 🙂

If I were you, before writing a motivation section, I would brainstorm all the reasons you can think of for why you’re doing the study and particularly for why you’re doing it the way you’re doing it (with appropriate research references where you know them). Then, show your professor your list, and ask him/her if you’ve missed anything (He’ll probably be impressed that you did the independent thinking to figure out all the reasons that you did!). Then reorder your list of reasons into some order that makes logical sense and use that as your outline in writing the motivation section — Make sense?

This same process should be useful to you in writing the analysis and discussion parts of research reports. . . .during your analysis process, make a tentative list of key points that might be worth focusing your readers’ attention on as you work. (Of course, some of them you’ll decide later aren’t important after all, but as soon as you’ve reorganized the ones you think ARE important, you’ll have a rough outline of the analysis section of your research report, which should make it much easier to write — and help you produce a top-quality end product, too ☺

Good planning makes good writing much less difficult and painful

  • PowerPoint or Prezi department seminar and/or conference presentations can also make an outstanding outline for starting to write a new research article. Many writers feel terrified of the empty page when they first begin to write, but if they can start with the text of one or more previous presentations (which probably followed standard research article order!), they never have to begin with an empty page!!! Instead, even before they start “writing their article” they have several hundred words already written ☺. This is one key reason that graduate students should take advantage of at least one (and maybe more) opportunities to present their research work before they write it up!
  • I don’t know if you realize this, but actually drawing a sketch and especially developing a flow chart are great ways to get started in writing. You will probably discover that it’s impossible to draw your readers’ attention to ALL the most important things in a drawing or sketch and that’s why you have to include writing in your papers as well. However, your sketch or flow chart can often function as a very helpful outline to guide the organization of your writing — Make sense?
  • Great idea, X! (Though you’re right that 30 minutes doesn’t give you enough time to do much brainstorming!. . . .but honestly, even for a timed writing like our “first-day writing” and the TOEFL and GRE writing sections, I think it’s worth spending a minute or two planning what to write before beginning actually writing. You’re likely to end up with a much better organized — and therefore an overall better — essay if you plan, even just for a minute or two, before you start writing. . . and definitely, for larger writing assignments, including a planning step such as brainstorming, is absolutely necessary if you don’t want to write and rewrite a million times — okay, a million times IS a slight exaggeration ☺ — but anyway, if you don’t want to write and rewrite again and again till you figure out how to order your ideas in a logical way! While rewriting/revision is a major and unavoidable part of the writing process, we can substantially decrease the amount of time we spend on rewriting just by taking the [much less] time required to plan our writing before we actually start writing.) Therefore, great suggestion!
  • While I agree with you that it’s easy to spend too much time on the planning step for short timed writings such as  the TOEFL, GRE, or Iowa State’s English Placement Test so that you end up not having enough time to write all that you’ve planned, I actually do think it’s still worth spending a minute or two when doing timed-writing tests on planning what to write before beginning actually writing. Although you should only spend a minute or two on planning for these timed tasks, planning is likely to help you ultimately write a much better organized — and therefore an overall better — essay. (Also, if the TOEFL and GRE are graded like Iowa State’s English Placement Test, their graders aren’t necessarily looking for a complete essay including all the possible main points and a conclusion, but just clear evidence that you could write such a well-planned, complete essay if you had a little more time — Make sense?)

Writing up experimental/quasi-experimental research or computational research

Experimental (or quasi-experimental) research: Lab or field research grounded in previous exploratory, descriptive and/or explanatory work that tests the null hypothesis against one or more alternative hypotheses by using carefully calibrated instruments to compare random samples/subjects (in true experimental studies) or non-random samples/subjects (in quasi-experimental studies) that have been assigned to a control condition vs. one or more systematically manipulated experimental/treatment conditions. Experimental/quasi-experimental researchers aim to generalize from their study’s samples/subjects to the larger population from which those samples/subjects have been drawn regarding the probability that one or more independent variables cause one or more dependent variables (M. Richards, English 101D Needs Survey, 2015)

Computational research: A relatively new type of interdisciplinary research grounded in what exploratory, descriptive and/or previous explanatory work in one’s home discipline suggest regarding 1) what is worth testing/observing/optimizing, 2) what theoretical constructs one’s study can justifiably assume, 3) the best means, based on one’s knowledge of applied math and computer science techniques, of defining and mathematically operationalizing (“modeling”/”simulating”) the hypotheses or processes one wishes to test and/or optimize and 4) how best to quantitatively analyze one’s study results. Computational research often involves high-performance computers, databases, networks and visualization software and is often used to investigate questions in science and engineering in cases where experimental research is impossible or impractical (in terms of time, money and/or accuracy) (M. Richards, English 101D Needs Survey, 2015)

Writing Discussion/Conclusion Sections

  • Thanks for your self-introduction,X! Actually, a relatively large portion of our course will focus on the skills needed to write research article introductions. . . .and if you learn how to write research article introductions effectively, I think you’ll discover research article conclusions require mostly the same “moves” and “steps” as introductions “because many of the things you need to do in the Introduction are done — in reverse order — in the Discussion/Conclusion” (quoted from Science Research Writing, a great book for learning how research articles are commonly structured, p. 2)!

Writing Abstracts

  • Finally, you mentioned that you leave writing the abstract to last because you don’t feel comfortable writing it. Don’t feel bad about that! That’s actually the ideal time to write your abstract because only after you’ve written the paper do you have a complete understanding of what your paper will ultimately contain and therefore what should be covered in the abstract. My very favorite textbook for teaching research writing (though I think it would be less helpful to you in your field than to others, so it’s probably not worth your buying — certainly don’t buy it before checking it out via the ISU library to make sure it’s worth your money!) states: “Although you should not simply cut and paste whole sentences from the body of the article. . . ., you don’t need to create completely new sentences; once you have decided what should go in the abstract you can select material, including parts of sentences and phrases from the relevant sections of the paper and adapt or modify them to meet the demands of an abstract” (Science Research Writing, p. 198). Therefore, you’re doing naturally what is recommended and best practice for abstract writing — great job!
  • Your idea of writing an abstract based on a department seminar or conference PowerPoint or Prezi presentation you’ve prepared is an excellent one — though because we usually have to submit our seminar or conference abstract before we give our presentation (to advertise our presentation so other people become interested in coming to it!), your idea does require researchers to prepare their presentations long before they give them. This is something graduate students (and also more advanced researchers at all levels!) often struggle with, but research writers who can discipline themselves to follow your suggestion will undoubtedly reap great benefits and increase the chances of their performing well against their competition (as long as they carefully review their presentations before presenting it to make sure they haven’t forgotten key things because it’s been so long since they prepared it). Great idea!
  • Regarding your specific difficulty with limiting your abstract word count to just the word limit, my favorite book on research writing, Science Research Writing, suggests: “For your first draft, don’t worry too much about the word limit. . . .Start by including whatever you think is important, and then gradually remove words, phrases, and even sentences that are not essential.” Make sense?


Recommending Science Research Writing

  • One other thing. I want to very highly recommend based on your major and especially on your future academic plans that you buy Science Research Writing, the textbook I usually use when teaching English 101D. I own several books on English research writing, etc., and Science Research Writing is by far my favorite. It not only provides really clear explanations and examples of the moves and steps writer usually use when writing Introduction-Methods-Results-Discussion/Conclusion research papers, but it also contains very useful lists of vocabulary useful for accomplishing each step and really easy-to-understand explanations of English grammar points important for the various parts of a research paper that nonnative speakers of English often have trouble with. One of my previous English 101D students told me a few months ago that he now leaves his Science Research Writing book in his lab so his labmates can use it, too. . . .he told me he’s just found it soooooooooooo helpful in his real-life research writing here at Iowa State. Therefore, I highly recommend you get it, too!
  • I don’t know enough about what exactly is required when writing industrial engineering papers to be sure, but you can check out an electronic version of my favorite research writing textbook, Science Research Writing, from Parks Library and see if the kind of research writing it describe matches the kind of presentations you need to give and the reports you need to write. If it does, I definitely encourage you to buy the book as it provides excellent step-by-step directions that, while you will undoubtedly need to modify them to fit the specifics of your field, you should find very helpful.
  • Based on your field as well as the fact that your previous education hasn’t emphasized writing, I think you would find my favorite textbook for research writing, Science Research Writing, extremely helpful. Even as a native English speaker, I very much wish I had had the textbook before I wrote my master’s thesis because it would have saved me a lot of pain! After all, no one grows up speaking (or writes!) English-for-research as a native language!

Writing up theoretical research

Definition: Research focused on developing carefully reasoned mental models/generalized explanations of the “why” and “how” — or “causes” — of a phenomenon that as simply as possible account for all known observations of interest related to that phenomenon. Natural and social science theories are often falsifiable, tending to produce (at least conceptually, though sometimes not practically!) hypotheses/predictions often capable of being expressed mathematically, observed in the “real world” and operationalized and tested via computational and/or experimental/quasi-experimental methodologies. Most humanities theories, on the other hand, consist of ideas that do not produce computationally or experimentally testable hypotheses and therefore can be evaluated only mentally, in terms of their capacity to account for all relevant known observations (M. Richards, English 101D Needs Survey, 2015)

Writing up descriptive research

Definition: Research aimed at 1) describing, 2) categorizing and/or 3) identifying correlation between characteristics of phenomena or population(s) in the past and/or present (i.e. what exists/has existed), not on why these characteristics/correlations exist (or have existed) nor on predicting or manipulating their future outcome. Descriptive research is often a necessary foundation for the research types listed below and frequently involves statistical and/or qualitative analysis of existing records, observational data and (open- or closed-ended) survey and interview question data, gathered either cross-sectionally or developmentally/longitudinally (M. Richards, English 101D Needs Survey, 2015)

Writing up exploratory research

Definition: Research often involving extensive reading of the literature and/or qualitative methods (e.g., coding of open-ended survey questions) to identify aspects of a phenomenon likely to produce interesting/valuable results if investigated via one or more of the research categories below (often used to explore new topics/angles of research) (M. Richards, English 101D Needs Survey, 2015)


Writing about one’s development of a creative product or practice

Definition: Developing a creative product or practice (often in the arts and humanities, but also in the “research and development” of engineering and the applied sciences) based on one’s own ideas, some “problem” existing in the “real world” and/or research in one or more of the categories above. In most cases, creative product/practice developers must (directly or indirectly) “market” their novel product/practice to a specific target audience (potential readers, viewers, participants, buyers, etc.), making clear in what specific ways their creative product or practice meets the needs and/or interests of that target audience (M. Richards, English 101D Needs Survey, 2015)

  • I enjoyed reading your self-introduction! It’s interesting to know what the writing demands of graphic design graduate students at Iowa State actually are. I hope very much through our class since I do require you to do a lot of writing, you will gain a lot of English writing fluency over the semester and also become much more comfortable / less scared of writing in English, hopefully even under time pressure.

Because your writing style is informal, my suspicion is that to a large extent, you can write your rough draft of your thesis and other writing tasks using informal conversational English (i.e. writing about your work just like you would talk about it if you were speaking). After you’ve written the rough draft in that way, you can then evaluate your sentences, removing redundancies (since a lot of redundancy is very common in speaking, because we are thinking at the same time we’re talking!) and making them sound more a little more written than spoken. If I’m not mistaken, for your field, this technique should work well. At least I hope so!



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