Week 2 Discussion Guide: Thursday
Product Types and Best
Readers Workshop: We will start with some peer-editing
conferences to help develop and refine our best defined product types and to help
improve our understanding of the best readers for a product recommendation
we might make.
- Discovering the thesis in your evidence:
You also will
need some rules for detecting a thesis in all of that evidence. Remember
the advantage of "The Grid" for pulling your evidence out of your sources' order
and into an order in which you can see patterns. Consider that good theses for academic papers
tend to arise from the author's discovery of:
1) a pattern in the evidence that can be interpreted to make meaning, or
discovery of a violation of such a pattern that can be interpreted to make
Identifying pattern-making and pattern breaking rules are the scholar's best
sources of insight.
In the case of
the PPR evidence, you will need to see a pattern of combinations of features
that seem important, or a violation of that pattern in some product's unique way
of delivering the same value in a radically different way. Play creatively
with your evidence in "The Grid," or use some other strategy for pulling your evidence
our of your sources' order and into an order you control. Look for
patterns of features.
- Organization of your recommendation:
have discovered a pattern of features that leads to a product choice, you
have to deliver that information to your reader in an organization that
makes clear sense. Comparison of the features usually works like a
- first, many of the products are excluded by consideration of the first
- then, most of the rest are excluded by consideration of the second
(and perhaps a third, but don't press your luck!);
- and the final feature turns
out to distinguish between the remaining two (or among the remaining
three or more) products.
That pattern of
rhetorical organization could be called "climactic" since it moves from the
least decisive to the most decisive comparison, but it also has the advantage of
being partly "anticlimactic," since the first comparison weeds out the most
number of choices, and the last remains dramatic because it makes the final
choice. In rhetoric slang, such an order is sometimes also called the
"relay race" order: start with the next-fastest-runner, then your slowest
runner, then the next fastest runner, until you end with the last leg run by
your fastest runner. The opening is strong, the middle builds in
significance, and the end is impressive.
- Turning evidence/information into a paper that
recommends a product to a known kind of reader: Your analytical categories for evaluating the
product you recommend must be clearly evident in the introduction of your rough
draft on Friday. Those analytical categories should show up in a logical order
in the outline or body paragraphs that follow. On what key features should the best readers' decision depend?
Think about what problems they would be trying to solve by purchasing the
product and you will discover the features that affect how well the products
will deliver solutions. We also can
use those online expert sites to see how they decide what categories of
information are most important for the product they are analyzing. In
general, you should pick the very best model you can find and, if you cannot
improve on what s/he is doing, imitate her/him, and
give her/him more explicit
endnote credit for shaping your thinking about how to understand the product.
- THE BIG PICTURE: This week marks
our first formal discussion of issues relevant to "Information Literacy."
"IL" is a huge topic, but you already know a lot about it as an amateur
researcher. Scholars need to understand "IL" far more formally than
non-scholarly users of information because they seek expert authority in their
discipline. That authority comes only from the difficult task of learning
research and writing into our lives.