Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Swales & Feak, Article 14, Unit 3

In Swales & Feak, Article 14, Unit 3, the authors focus on the problem-to-solution writing style movement. They say that this structure will prove useful when writing critiques and introductions.
They also discuss process descriptions. They say it makes sense to see describing the parts of a process as the steps required to provide a solution to some problems. So the authors feel that giving tiny steps will help a writer follow their pattern and produce results. In this case, that means providing a solution to the problem that has been posed.
The authors say that a writer must be informed and organized if they are to follow an argumentative approach to a problem-to-solution task. If a writer wants to be evaluative then they should be questioning and perceptive.
An example essay "The Role of English in Research and Scholarship" is provided. The essay purports that the number of English essays is inflated. Also, the number on non-English essays are underrepresented.
The authors point out that the word, "However", introduces the counter-argument. The authors want to convince the reader that the problem really is a problem.
The authors wonder how many points must be made in order for the argument to be convincing. Of course, the more points that are made, the more convincing the argument will be.
The next essay describes a desert climate in Chile - the Atacama Desert.
The authors say that the passive voice is used in this essay to describe a technical process. Therefore the perceptiveness of the essay is meant to convince the readers.
An active voice is used to describe nature. Also -ing can be used to describe a result. Indirect questions can be persuasive and they are less likely to make a reader defensive.
Another way that information can be presented is in a question-and-answer format. Since the answers are possible solutions, they can be very convincing.
Students generally provide a topic sentence when they present a paper. Then they provide an answer based upon their research. In order to make their position more convincing, they should use one of the essay writing methods mentioned above.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Beginning to Construct a Research Paper

In this week's readings, Swales and Freak talk about how to construct a research paper. They provide the IMRD outline. A writer should start with an introduction, then explain what methods will be used to acquire data, then present the results, and then discuss what repercussions the results have upon the research questions poised.
The authors explain that the writers of a research paper operate in a strategic manner. They want to begin by asking sufficiently interesting questions. The questions need to be answerable in a way that will satisfy the reader. The research paper needs to be competitive with current research. Thus, a writer needs to be familiar with the research that is current.
I will sketch a draft of my paper.
Introduction - I am observing a language club in Korea. The majority of the people in the club are highly motivated. My research questions are the following: What kind of motivation drives these people? Why is it that they are so driven?
Methods - I am creating an ethnography of a language club in Korea by 'participant observation.' This means that I attend the club as a member. I observe the other members and I ask them questions.
Results - The results that I have accumulated indicate that the club members are highly educated and they have a lot of intrinsic motivation. Research indicates that intrinsic motivation is the best motivation to have because it is self-sustaining. Therefore, it persists for a long time and it leads to the best results.
Discussion - Why are the people in the group so successful? If someone is willing to learn another language then chances are that they are open-minded and inquisitive. This desire acts as a filter for the group members as those that attend the club continue to strive to improve their language skills and accomplish their career goals.
Korea has four seasons so people here need to prepare for the winter season. To survive they must have enough kimchi so that they do not starve throughout the cold months. This requires planning and preparation. Therefore, Koreans are driven.
There is also a long history of education being revered in Korea. From the time of Confucius, state tests were used to determine who got the lucrative government jobs. Therefore, studying hard is very much a part of Korean tradition.
This was a rough sketch of my paper.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Writing Summaries

This weeks reading focuses on writing summaries. Swales & Feak say that we typically write summaries about conversations we have, lectures we attend, or about the things we read.
People write summaries for many reasons but they are typically for future reference.
A University student will create a summary in order to prepare for an exam. They need to memorize certain information so they need to summarize it to become familiar with it and make it digestible. They made also need to create a summary for a class discussion. Plus, they may need to summarize in order to create a term paper, a research paper, or a thesis. We are all preparing to do a thesis so that is the area that interests us the most.
A public summary is a display for others of your understanding of some material. We will all be making our summaries public as we share them with each other.
The authors provide an example summary that is fairly straight forward since it is dealing with factual material. It focuses on the agricultural revolution in Egypt and how that has affected the land and population. Since the 1800's the population has grown and people have migrated to the cities. In 1800 the population was 2.5 million, 1900 it was 9.7 million, in 1940 it was 18.8 million, 1970 it was 37 million, 1984 it was 46 million, and in 2000 it was 65 million. Currently Russia has 140 million people. Egypt is projected to have a higher population than Russia by the year 2050.
After examining the factual passage about Egypt, the authors then look at an argumentative passage about patents. This passage is harder to summarize because the writers of it have a specific agenda. They want to convince the reader of a certain way of thinking. There is a passage about 'patents' and a passage about 'reducing air pollution.' A lot of ideas are shared to try and make the arguments convincing.
The authors warn against plagiarizing other people's work. We should all respect other author's work and acknowledge them when used or cited.
Another type of summary are the Comparative Summaries. Comparative Summaries require you to analyze and use information from two or more sources rather than one. It may not be an objective representation of the original sources. Relevant material is required for this task. Humor is the topic that is picked as an example for Comparative Summaries.
Thus, the final task is a comparative summary about humor. Wilson (1979) and Ziv (1984) discuss humor and we are to compare and contrast the two authors view. An example comparative summary is provided.
Wilson feels that humor reflects the social hierarchy. Those in a higher social position mock or ridicule those in a lower social position. Merely being outside a group can make someone an object of ridicule. Therefore we go out of our way to try and fit in.
Ziv sees the social function of humor as one of control and maintaining or establishing rapport. Joking is a way to establish social order.
Both the authors see humor as an important tool in our communication arsenal. However, Wilson offers a lot more specifics.
I hope you enjoyed the unit about writing summaries. Especially since we will all be doing a lot of that in the near future. Take care. Cheers, Chad

Thursday, October 7, 2010

General to Specific

In this week's reading, the authors discuss a writing task that requires the participant to write in general and then gradually become more and more specific.
I have found helpful the inverted triangle - square - square - square - triangle diagram when I am writing a paper. In the introductory paragraph the writer should begin with a very general statement. They can relate their topic to the world or to all people. Then the writer should be more and more specific. The last sentence of the introductory paragraph should be the topic sentence that clearly states the writers main idea or point. The initial sentence is represented by the wide part of the triangle. The topic sentence is represented by the tip of the triangle.
Then the squares represent the paragraphs where the writer reinforces the main point. Each sentence should be connected with the other in some way. When a new point or reference is being made then a new paragraph should be created. The points should be linked together by the previous sentence.
The closing paragraph should begin by being very specific and restate (albeit, in a different and interesting way) the writer's topic sentence or main point. This is represented by the top of the triangle. Then each of the following sentences should get more and more general. Finally, the last sentence should apply the writer's main topic to the world in a very general way. This is represented by the bottom or wide part of the triangle.
Swales and Freak offer a lot of helpful tips but the topics they suggest to be written about seem quite difficult. I do not know that much about science to elaborate about technical topics. Trying to define humor seems to be a challenging task.
I have found the "Writing Exercise" helpful. Just writing for 5 minutes about any topic or a specific topic seems to be good practice. I suppose writing about a topic that is difficult (science or humor) could be helpful. It would be painful but good for you, like exercise. After writing about a difficult topic and then taking up the task of writing about something that one is familiar with or interested in would seem easier and refreshing.