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Curious Researcher, The, 7th Edition

By Bruce Ballenger

Published by Pearson

Published Date: Jun 21, 2011


Featuring an engaging, direct writing style and inquiry-based approach, this popular research guide stresses that curiosity is the best reason for investigating ideas and information.


An appealing alternative to traditional research texts, The Curious Researcher stands apart for its motivational tone, its conversational style, and its conviction that research writing can be full of rewarding discoveries. Offering a wide variety of examples from student and professional writers, this popular guide shows that good research and lively writing do not have to be mutually exclusive. Students are encouraged to find ways to bring their writing to life, even though they are writing with “facts.” A unique chronological organization sets up achievable writing goals while it provides week-by-week guidance through the research process. Full explanations of the technical aspects of writing and documenting source-based papers help students develop sound research and analysis skills. The text also includes up-to-date coverage of MLA and APA styles.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Rethinking the research paper
 Learning and unlearning
Using this book
 The exercises
 The five-week plan  
 Alternatives to the five-week plan
The research paper versus the research report
 Discovering your purpose
How formal should it be?
The question is you
 Thinking like an academic writer
A method of discovery
Firing on four cylinders of information
Facts don’t kill
Creative research papers?


Chapter 1: The First Week
The importance of getting curious
 Getting the pot boiling
 Other ways to find a topic
 What is a good topic?
 Where’s Waldo and the organizing power of questions
 Making the most of an assigned topic
Developing a working knowledge
 Case study on developing working knowledge: Theories of dog training
 Research strategies for developing working knowledge
  Using Zotero to manage your research
  The reference librarian: A living source
Narrowing the subject
 Circling the lighthouse
 From landscape shots to close-ups
 Crafting your opening inquiry question
Possible purposes for a research assignment
Reading for research
 Reading rhetorically
 Reading like an outsider


Chapter 2: The Second Week
Developing a research strategy
Google vs. the library 
A complementary research strategy 
Find enough information by using the best search terms
Index searches using the Library of Congress subject headings 
Keyword searching  in library databases
Keyword searches on the world wide web
 Find varied sources 
  Primary vs. secondary sources 
  Objective vs. subjective 
  Stable or unstable?
 Find quality sources
  When was it published?
  Why journal articles are better than magazine articles 
  Look for often-cited authors 
  Not all books are alike 
  Evaluating online sources
   A key to evaluating Internet sources
Developing focused knowledge 
 What about a thesis? 
  Suspending judgment?
  Testing assumptions?
  What are you arguing?
Searching library databases for books and articles
Keeping track of what you find: Developing a bibliography
 Finding Books
  Understanding call numbers*
  Coming up empty-handed?
  Checking bibliographies
   Interlibrary loan 
 Article databases
 Saving search results
Advanced Internet research techniques 
 Types of search engines 
Living sources: Interviews and surveys
 Arranging interviews 
  Finding experts
 Finding nonexperts affected by your topic
 Making contact
 Conducting interviews 
  Whom to interview
  What questions to ask
  During the interview
 The e-mail interview 
  Finding people on the Internet
  Making contact by e-mail
  The discussion board and listserv interview
Planning informal surveys
 Defining goals and audience
 Types of questions
 Survey design
  Avoid loaded questions
  Avoid vague questions
  Drawbacks of open-ended questions
  Designing your multiple choice questions
  Using continuum questions
 Conducting surveys
  Telephone surveys
  In person surveys
  The Internet survey
Fieldwork: Research on what you see and hear
 Preparing for fieldwork
 Notetaking strategies 
 Using what you see and hear


Chapter 3: The Third Week
Writing in the middle
 Becoming an activist notetaker
Plagiarism: What it is, why it matters, and how to avoid it 
 I read what you said and borrowed it, okay?
 Why plagiarism matters 
Making information your own: Quotation, paraphrase, and summary
    “What? I Failed” by Thomas Lord
 Notetaking techniques
 The double-entry journal
 The research log
 Narrative notetaking
 Online research notebooks
When you’re coming up short: More advanced searching techniques
 Advanced library searching techniques
 Advanced Internet search techniques
 Thinking outside the box: Alternative sources


Chapter 4: The Fourth Week
Getting to the draft  
 Exploration or argument?
Organizing the draft  
 Delayed thesis structure
 Question—claim structure 
 Exploring or arguing: An example
Preparing to write the draft
 Refining the question 
 Refining the thesis 
 Deciding whether to say I
  Getting personal without being personal
Starting to write the draft: Beginning at the beginning 
 Flashlights or floodlights? 
 Writing multiple leads
Writing for reader interest 
 Working the common ground
  Topics for which common ground is hard to find
 Putting people on the page
  Using case studies
  Using interviews
 Writing a strong ending
  Endings to avoid
 Using surprise 
Writing with sources
 Blending kinds of writing and sources
 Handling quotes
 Quick tips for controlling quotations
  Grafting quotes
  Sandwiching quotes
  Billboarding quotes
  Splicing quotes
  Handling interview material
  Trusting your memory
Citing sources
Driving through the first draft


Chapter 5: The Fifth Week
Revising is re-seeing (or breaking up is hard to do)    
Global revision: Revising for purpose, thesis, and structure 
 Writer- to reader-based prose
  Is it organized around a clear purpose?
  Does it establish significance?
  Does it say one thing?
  Using a reader 
Reviewing the structure
Using your thesis to revise
   Examining the wreckage
Other ways of reviewing the structure
Finding quick facts
Local revision: Revising for language
 Listening to voice
  Avoid sounding glib
 Tightening seams between what you say and what they say
  Verbal gestures
 Scrutinizing paragraphs
  Is each paragraph unified?
 Scrutinizing sentences
  Using active voice
  Using strong verbs
  Varying sentence length
  Editing for simplicity
  Avoiding stock phrases
Preparing the final manuscript
 Considering a “reader-friendly” design
 Using images
 Following MLA conventions
 Proofreading your paper 
  Proofreading on a computer
  Looking closely
  Ten common mistakes in research papers
  Using the “find” or “search” function
  Avoiding sexist language
Looking back and moving on

Appendix A: Guide to MLA Styles.
Appendix B: Guide to APA Style.
Appendix C: Understanding Research Assignments



Curious Researcher, The, 7th Edition

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