Week 11 Discussion Guide: Thursday--Independent Research Project

        In class, we will revisit briefly the reasons why equally competent scholars in a discipline differ in their judgments, and how communities of interpretation or specialization help to manage those disputes.  One method is to find a logical bridge between scholars who appear to be fighting.  This strategy is a specific example of the ways in which creative researchers can combine evidence and reasoning from multiple sources to discover new possible ways to interpret the evidence, and new evidence to interpret with existing reasoning.  JSTOR Political Sciences Database Search: “Failed State” and “remedy”

        Then, we will discuss how Social Sciences and Natural Sciences differ from the Humanities in their use of specialized research methods, record keeping, report writing, and best-reader expectations.  Especially, think about the range of scholarly but unpublished writing professional scientists must produce as pre-writing for what they publish, including memos, scholarly letters, proposals, internal reports, conference papers and poster sessions, etc.  We especially will discuss the "survey of previous research" as a subgenre in all upper division writing.

         If you are going to work in the Natural Sciences, make sure you have read the two linked pages on how to write for the natural sciences, and I strongly recommend the link to Chernail's online paper "Presenting Quantitative Data," a short, clear discussion of persuasive rhetoric for scientists.

            For all college-level and beyond papers, authors must be scrupulously aware of the importance of the strength of claims in academic prose.  We will discuss the value of the seemingly less important "possible" and "probable" claims as opposed to claims of certainty.

        Then, if we have time, I will ask each of you to explain to the class what you know so far about your project, and to describe what kinds of sources you have found, and what kinds of problems you have encountered.  We will try to solve some of those problems using our imaginations and online resources.  If we cannot solve the problems, at least we will try to develop strategies for how they could be solved after class.