Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Writing a Term Paper & article : Sound strategy.

  Dr. Balraj Vishnoi
 (Faculty Member, cooperative education & management)

 1.         Title/Title Page: The title of your paper should fit the main theme of the paper. It should be centered in bold print (16-18 font) and should not be more than ten words. Place your name one or two line spaces directly under the title in a smaller font size. The date of submission and the class in which the assignment was made should also be included. Lastly, put the name, date and location of the conference under your demographic information.
2.         Abstract: This is a one or two paragraph synopsis of your paper. First and foremost, the abstract should identify your hypothesis/research question in the first or second line. Then, detail the procedure/application that you used to test your hypothesis/research question (survey data, archival study, regression analysis, content analysis, etc). your main data sources (i.e. Survey data, Census data, etc). Lastly, the abstract should provide the reader with your main research findings if you have completed the research. An abstract should not be longer than 130 words or 3/4ths of a page.
3.         Introduction: The introduction to the paper provides the main point of departure for your subject matter. The main objective is not only to clearly convey your hypothesis/research question, but also to validate your study relative to other studies. Present relevant background or contextual material /Define terms or concepts when necessary /Explain the focus of the paper and your specific purpose/Validate your thesis or purpose statement by showing why it is important and Reveal your plan of organization for the paper
4.         Literature Review/Previous Literature: In short, this is a summation of the works of other scholars who have conducted research on your dependent variable/main subject. The bulk of your literature review should be based on scholarly refereed research. Generally speaking, web based articles are still only moderately acceptable in research. This does not include refereed journals that are available online. I am specifically referring to articles that were written and did not go through the process of having several other professional researches read it and provide some sort of stamp of approval (commonly called non refereed research). Literature can be ranked in terms of level of acceptance (most acceptable to least acceptable): 1. university press books and refereed articles, 2. non university press books and text books, 3. articles from research institutes, government agencies, or think tanks such as the Urban Institute, Brookings, Congressional Budget Office, and OMB, 4. web sites, news magazines (Newsweek, U.S. News and World Report, etc.), and newspaper articles. There is also some disparity among web sites, newspapers, and news magazines, so be careful when citing them.                                                                                                                               Use your outline and prospectus as flexible guides/Build your paper around points you want to make (i.e., don't let your sources organize your paper) /Integrate your sources into your discussion and Summarize, analyze, explain, and evaluate published work and Move up and down the "ladder of abstraction" from generalization to varying levels of detail back to generalization.
5.         Data and Methods: The main objective of this section is to inform the reader of your data sources, research application and model.  It is not necessary to list the exact location of your data sources. For example, if you use data from the Census Bureau’s web site, you should simply list the main web site.
It is easier to describe secondary data than primary data. When using primary data, you must detail the exact collection method as well as any other nuances that you employed when collecting the data. This is particularly true with content analysis studies and primary survey data. Review the article “Advancing E-Government at the Grassroots: Tortoise or Hare?” in the January/February 2005, v 6 p 64-75 issue of Public Administration Review for an example of writing the data and methods section for a survey research article. Review the article “The Media’s Portrayal of Urban and Rural School Violence: A Preliminary Analysis” in the September/October 2001, v 22 #5 issue of Deviant Behavior for an example of content analysis. The article that is listed on our website with this handout also uses secondary data analysis. Methodology refers to the statistical application that you use in your study. This includes, chi square analysis, regression analysis, correlations, factors analysis, etc.
Provide the location of data sources/Describe the variables used in your paper (in the paper or in the appendix)/Describe the methodology used and it limitations (regression, survey or content analysis, archival studies, etc) & Present your model/paradigm/etc.
6.         Findings/Results: This section provides the reader with the results of your analysis. No conclusions are drawn in this section. So, if you test three hypotheses, you might simply list them one by one and provide the results for each. If you have tables and charts describing your findings, place them in this section.  Your tables should stand alone. That is, the reader should be able to discern what is in the table or illustration without reading the text. However, the text should clearly explain what is in the table [s]. You should not refer extensively to the literature review in the findings. The tables and charts must be carefully constructed so that the reader can readily understand labels, headings, sources or data, etc. Repeat research question/hypothesis followed by the findings/Present tables, charts and graphs & Do not draw any conclusions based on previous research.
7.         Conclusions: The first thing that you want to do in your conclusion is remind the reader of your hypotheses/research questions. Then, confirm or reject those propositions as well as compare them to the findings of other scholars. It is okay to indicate that you did not find what you expected to find. Scholars frequently indicate how their research was limited and what they would do or recommend to future researchers. It is not necessary to reinvent the wheel in this section. It is a summary, not a regurgitation of the findings. Depending on the number of hypothesis tested, your conclusion can range from a paragraph to a couple of pages in length.
8.         References/Bibliography: Please consult a style manual for proper citation methods. There are three main techniques (APA, MLA, and Chicago Style) and they do change over time. So, you should consult the most recent version of the technique that you are using. The MPA faculty have agreed that students in PADM classes should use the most recent APA style.
9.         Endnotes/Footnotes: These are short explanatory sentences that are conservatively used throughout your paper. For the most part, they are used to offer additional explanation, definitions or other pieces of information that may be useful to the reader. Do not put things in the notes that can be included in the paper. If you are using quantitative analysis in your paper it may be better if you use an appendix along with notes. Use notes sparingly.
10.       Appendices/Footnotes/Endnotes: The appendix contains information that is not needed directly in the text. This would include items such as the coding scheme for your models, definitions of terms, and additional information about your data. There is no set amount or type of information that should be included in your appendix.
The information contained in this summary is not applicable and should not be mistaken for “research papers” that are really literature reviews. It is possible to conduct a content analysis or an archival study on the work of other scholars. However, to simply go to the library and find articles and books on a subject and write a paper is not a research paper, but a literature review disguised as a research paper. The term research suggests that you have gone beyond what other writers have done and conducted some sort of analysis that presumably has not been done before.
Term papers frequently use a Times Roman 12 point font and are double spaced. Unless indicated otherwise, there is no real page limit. However, research papers do not tend to extend beyond 40 pages. The following websites offers additional information on writing using the APA style.

Aids to Writing Research Papers

Guidelines for writing a term paper.
Harbrace college handbook.
Making sense : a student's guide to research and writing : social sciences.
MLA handbook for writers of research papers.
Model research papers from across the disciplines.
Put it in writing: learn how to write clearly, quickly and persuasively.
Research paper smart: where to find it, how to write it, how to cite it.
Understanding style : practical ways to improve your writing.
Webster's new world student writing handbook.

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