The following booklet has been written to assist students of the English Department prepare their dissertation, their final written work for the examination at the end of their course.
It is intended mainly as a practical guide and as such contains advice on some relevant research issues and procedures, preparation processes and steps as well as some of the department and faculty requirements. It also raises some philosophical questions about research and the role it should play in a candidate’s life as a student. Furthermore, being written essentially for non-native speakers, it includes some advice and practice in writing text itself.
The booklet accompanies the Academic Writing course, and is therefore not entirely freestanding. Much of the content leads to class discussion and activity.
It is important to bear in mind that there is no single way of preparing a dissertation and every discipline has its own procedures and format. This booklet is not intended to lay down the law for any of the sections in the English Department: rather it should be seen as a general guide in no way intended to override supervisors’ principles and practices. The only possible exception to this is the section entitled Style Sheet For Papers in the English Department, which describes the formatting required.
Finally it must be said that the preparation of a dissertation should be seen as an exciting adventure, an opportunity to investigate something of deep personal interest and should be the vehicle students use to demonstrate the depth of their intellect which they reached through years of reading, study, thinking and experience. The English staff sincerely believe that no student would regard their dissertation as the culmination of their intellectual development, just a milepost along the way. And a major one at that.
Please note that the Faculty of Education publishes dissertation requirements. These can be found in the booklet Studijní programy, Prezenční a kombinované studium: obecné informace. In the booklet for 1999-2000 it begins on p.82.
A simplified sequence of the stages involved in compiling a Dissertation follows.
1. Initial ideas of a suitable topic
2. Provisional choice of topic
3. Specific research questions/hypotheses from title
4. Identification of key variables and/or issues
5. Decision on what type of data will be needed
6. Selecting and reviewing relevant literature
7. Choice of appropriate method of data collection
8. Development of appropriate instrument(s) for data collection
9. Data collection
10. Data analysis
11. Evaluation of reliability and validity of data
12. Conclusions, inferences drawn
13. Initial draft of report
14. Revision of initial draft
15. Production of final version
16. Submission of completed dissertation
There is no single acceptable format for a Dissertation. The format you adopt for your study will depend on your choice of topic and your approach to it. There is a conventional format, which many dissertations, project reports, etc. conform to and this may be appropriate for your Dissertation.
¨ Title Page.
¨ Dedication (as appropriate)
¨ Introduction Review of the Literature
¨ Research Design and Method
¨ Presentation of Findings
¨ Appendices (including questionnaires or interview schedules, if appropriate)
¨ Bibliography and References.
¨ Content of sections
Note 1: Although your final report should be laid out in the order below, this does not mean that you need to complete your draft in that order. Some supervisors argue that the final versions of the Abstract and the Introduction should be the last parts to be written.
Note 2: See also the sheets called Diplomová práce produced by the Faculty of Education, Masaryk University and included in this handbook.
Adapted from Moray House p.69
The dissertation is a major study demanding of students a high level of individual application and commitment to research and enquiry. It will provide students with the opportunity to identify, reflect on and explore a topic that has implications for their own professional development. Thus the dissertation will combine issues of academic theory with those of professional practice within a context of sustained individual investigation. As such the dissertation forms a suitable culmination for the course.
The dissertation aims to provide an experience of investigative work in a specialist area and will:
¨ develop an orientation towards enquiry in their professional concerns
¨ involve students in considering the values and assumptions which underlie the way professional issues are defined for investigation and which underlie particular approaches to investigating them
¨ engage students in the critical appraisal of a variety of examples of relevant research
¨ facilitate students in the identification of a professionally relevant topic of their dissertation
¨ provide students with the confidence and skill to engage in systematic professional development
¨ provide students with the opportunity to contribute to the corpus of professional knowledge.
Adapted from Noorgard, R. (1994) Ideas in Action HarperCollins p.271-2
The question seems obvious, but it is all too rarely asked. Research makes sense only if you have genuine questions that need answers – and those answers are not readily available or obvious. To ask those questions intelligently, and to find answers that matter, you must develop or uncover information that is not already at your disposal. You owe it to yourself and your readers to see what the best minds have had to say on the subject, so that you, in turn, can say something, more; something new. The purpose of research is thus an ethical one: to acknowledge the work of those who have gone before you. Only by acknowledging that work can you build on it.
Genuine questions thus ask you to pursue intelligent answers by acknowledging and extending the work of others. Unfortunately, this is where misunderstandings can arise. Although research involves gathering information, the gathering process is not an end in itself. Information becomes relevant only insofar as it permits you to solve a problem. To make sense of your research paper and the research that leads up to it, you will do best to adopt a problem-solving perspective.
By thinking of research in terms of solving problems, you can set what might otherwise seem to be clerical tasks in a critical-thinking context. Your research will have precious little point if you gather and footnote information that confirms conclusions others have already reached. By simply looking it up, you merely confirm the obvious by supplying footnotes. The motions you go through may resemble research but miss its inherent purpose. Genuine research hinges on your ability to build on work already done, to pose new or unsettled questions, and to arrive at and justify answers that would otherwise remain uncertain or unknown. Research, in short, hinges on your ability to recognize and solve new problems.
As you engage your research problem, the dynamic, evolving relationship among questions, answers, and reasons can help you make sense of the unknown territory you explore. You are already familiar with this relationship as a point of departure for general essays: as you question, gather, and sort, you arrive at an occasion, and reasons that justify a dissertation. These elements can lend shape and purpose to your words. Consider how you can adapt this general method for shaping your writing to the special demands of research. Those special demands include the need to maintain a sceptical attitude because research is an open-ended process in which questions, conclusions, and reasons constantly evolve. Research also demands that you relate your own work to those who have gone before as you develop primary source material or engage in library research.
Adapted from Burns: Introduction To Research Methods p.25-26
In undertaking any research, the first problem is to find a problem to investigate. This statement looks either so self-contradictory or so self-evident that difficulties which investigators have in doing just this are likely to be underestimated.
Research starts with a problem. There is first a vague situation in which ideas are unclear, doubts are raised and the thinker is perplexed. This uncertainty must, however, ultimately be removed. Initially, a researcher may often have only a general and unfocussed notion of a particular problem but sooner or later there has to be a fairly clear idea of what the problem is. Otherwise they can hardly get very far in solving it. Though this statement seems self-evident, one of the most difficult things to do, apparently, is to state one\'s research problem clearly and fully. You must know what you are trying to find out, and when you finally know this the problem is heading towards a solution.
As with most undertakings, the success of research depends largely on the care taken with the preliminary preparations. Much thought should be given to the problem beforehand, dividing it into crucial questions and then designing a study to answer the questions.
Novice researchers are surprised to find that this initial stage often takes up a considerable amount of the total time invested in a research project. But research is impossible until a problem is recognised, thought through, and formulated in a feasible manner.
The difficulty is not due to a shortage of researchable problems. The main difficulty is that a problem must be selected and a question formulated early, when the beginner\'s understanding of how to do research is more limited. In addition, uncertainties about the nature of research problems, the isolation of a problem, the criteria for acceptability, and how to solve the problem often seem overwhelming. Even experienced researchers usually find it necessary to make several attempts before arriving at a research problem that meets generally accepted criteria. The first attempt at formulation may, on closer examination, be found to be unfeasible or not worth doing. Skill in doing research is to a large extent a matter of making wise choices about what to investigate.
In one majestic and systematic attack, psychologism, naturalism, inductionism, and logical positivism are swept away and replaced by a set of methodological rules called Falsificationism. Falsificationism is the idea that science advances by unjustified, exaggerated guesses followed by unstinting criticism. Only hypotheses capable of clashing with observation reports are allowed to count as scientific. "Gold is soluble in hydrochloric acid" is scientific (though false); "Some homeopathic medicine does work" is, taken on its own, unscientific (though possibly true). The first is scientific because we can eliminate it if it is false; the second is unscientific because even if it were false we could not get rid of it by confronting it with an observation report that contradicted it. Falsifiable theories enhance our control over error while expanding the richness of what we can say about the world.
Any "positive support" for theories is unobtainable and superfluous; all we can do is eliminate error - and even this is hypothetical, though often successful. The notion that science offers proof is now only advanced by popular treatments of science on TV and in (many) newspapers. Many journalists are sadly completely devoid of theoretical knowledge: a side-effect of overspecialization on the immediate moment.
Look out for this travesty of Popper\'s analysis: "You cannot prove a theory, but you can disprove it". Proof is a matter of demonstration (as in mathematics), but refutation is a matter of accepting a basic statement and rejecting the truth of the theory it contradicts. If I accept "This swan here is black", then I am obliged to reject "All swans are white". Because from "This swan here is black" I can derive "Not all swans are white". But I have not proved that not all swans are white, that this must be true. In a proof, we discard the assumptions that helped us to get to the conclusion. This is quite clear in proof by reductio ad absurdum. In a reductio ad absurdum we start by assuming the opposite of what we wish to prove. That is, we assume it is false. We then try to infer an absurdity (contradiction) from this, and if we do, we then conclude that the assumption must be true. But in a refutation our rejection of a theory, "All swans are white", depends on our maintaining the truth of the basic statement, "This swan here is black". In a refutation we hold on to the assumptions of our derivation. Of course, the derivations involved in science are much more complex than in the swan example, but the point stands.
Popper\'s later works include The Open Society and Its Enemies (1945), The Poverty of Historicism (1957), and Postscript to the Logic of Scientific Discovery, 3 vol. (1981-82). He was knighted in 1965.
Adapted from Nunan, D. (1992) Research Methods in Language Learning Cambridge: CUP p.10
One reason for the persistence of the distinction between quantitative and qualitative research is that the two approaches represent different ways of thinking about and understanding the world around us. Underlying the development of different research traditions and methods is a debate on the nature of knowledge and the status of assertions about the world, and the debate itself is ultimately a philosophical one. It is commonly assumed that the function of research is to add to our knowledge of the world and to demonstrate the \'truth\' of the commonsense notions we have about the world. In developing one\'s own philosophy on research, it is important to determine how the notion of \'truth\' relates to research.
¨ What is truth?
¨ Even more basically, do we accept that there is such a thing as \'truth\'?
¨ What is evidence?
¨ Can we ever \'prove\' anything?
¨ What evidence would compel us to accept the truth of an assertion or proposition?
These are questions which need to be borne in mind constantly as one reads and evaluates research. In a recent television advertising campaign, the following claim was made about a popular brand of toothpaste: \'University tests prove that Brand X toothpaste removes 40% more plaque\'. (The question of 40% more than what was not addressed.) By invoking the authority of \'university tests\' the manufacturers are trying to invest their claim with a status it might otherwise lack. There is the implication that claims based on research carried out in universities are somehow more \'scientific\' and therefore believable than claims made on the basis of anecdotes, the experience of the layperson, or the in-house research of the manufacturers themselves. According to Winograd and Flores (1986), the status of research based on \'scientific\' experiments and, indeed, the rationalist orientation which underlies it, is based on the success of modern science.
The rationalist orientation . . . is also regarded, perhaps because of the prestige and success that modern science enjoys, as the very paradigm of what it means to think and be intelligent. . . . It is scarcely surprising, then, that the rationalistic orientation pervades not only artificial intelligence and the rest of computer science, but also much of linguistics, management theory, and cognitive science . . . rationalistic styles of discourse and thinking have determined the questions that have been asked and the theories, methodologies, and assumptions that have been adopted. (p. 16)
The following assertions have all been made publicly. Consider them and the evidence on which they are based, and reflect on which deserve to be taken seriously on the balance of the evidence provided.
ASSERTION 1 Second language learners who identify with the target culture will master the language more quickly than those who do not. (Evidence: A case study of an unsuccessful language learner.)
ASSERTION 2 Schoolchildren are taught by their teachers that they need not obey their parents. (Evidence: A statement by a parent on a radio talk-back programme.)
ASSERTION 3 Immigrants are more law abiding than native-born citizens. (Evidence: An analysis of district court records.)
ASSERTION 4 Deaf children are more successful in school if their parents do not succumb to a sense of powerlessness when they experience difficulty communicating with their children. (Evidence: A study based on data from 40 deaf and 20 hearing children.)
ASSERTION 5 Affective relationships between teacher and students influence proficiency gains. (Evidence: A longitudinal ethnographic study of an inner city high school class.)
ASSERTION 6 Students who are taught formal grammar develop greater proficiency than students who are taught through \'immersion\' programmes. (Evidence: A formal experiment in which one group of students was taught through immersion and another group was taught formal grammar.)
In actual fact, all of these assertions can be challenged on the basis of the evidence advanced to support them. Some critics would reject assertions 1, 2, and 5 on the grounds that they are based on a single instance (in the case of 1 and 2 on the instance of a single individual, and in the case of 5 on the instance of a single classroom). Such critics would argue that the selection of a different individual or classroom might have yielded a very different, even contradictory, response. Assertion 3 could be challenged on the grounds that the causal relationship between fewer court convictions and demographic data has not been demonstrated. It might simply be, for example, that criminals from immigrant communities are smarter, and therefore less likely to be caught than native-born criminals. The problem with this study is that we can account for the outcomes through explanations other than the one offered by the researchers. Someone versed in research methods would say that the study has poor internal validity. Assertion 4 might be criticised on the grounds that \'power\' and \'powerlessness\' have not been adequately defined. Such a criticism is aimed at the construct validity of the study. The final assertion can be challenged on the grounds that the two groups might not have been equal to begin with.
In the final analysis, the extent to which one is prepared to accept or reject particular methods of inquiry and the studies utilising these methods will depend on one\'s view of the world, and the nature of knowledge. For some people the notion that there are external truths \'out there\' which are independent of the observer is self-evident. For others, this notion, which underlies the quantitative approach to research, is questionable (see, for example, Winograd and Flores 1986).
Adapted from Burns, R B (1997) Introduction to Research Methods, Longman
The planning stage is possibly the most demanding, certainly the most important part of the research process. If research were limited to gathering facts, knowledge could not advance.
q proposal of a hypothesis
q deduction from the hypothesis that certain phenomena should be observed in given circumstances
q checking of this deduction by observation
q Hypotheses are the working instruments of theory
q follows from the review of literature
q problems are not the only source of hypotheses
q they also derive from theory
q A hypothesis must be stated so that it is can be either confirmed or refuted
q use of indefinite terms in a hypothesis make it untestable.
q e.g. authoritarianism can only be tested if there is a scale of it
q Variables must be defined because not everyone will have the same definition or understanding of the terms in a hypothesis and there are also differences in the precision
q e.g. define Violence on TV
q the original hypothesis is often tightened up and refined and becomes the operational hypothesis.
q e.g. Which of the following is testable?
q Children who attend Sunday School show better acquaintance with the bible than those who don’t.
q Children who attend Sunday School show greater moral fibre than those who don’t.
q concise, correct terminology
q must be testable
q must state the relationship between variables
q hypotheses should be limited in scope, not universal.
q they should be grounded in known facts
q most research either looks for differences between groups or for relationships between groups
q We are never proving a hypothesis, only testing it and eventually accepting ir or rejecting it
q One tailed makes its prediction in one direction
q e.g. that something is more likely than not
q Two tailed hypotheses are those that suggest that the effect of an independent variable could go either way.
q e.g. that something is different (without saying which way)
q A null hypothesis in a directional forms favours its rejection
q If the null hypothesis is accepted but the null hypothesis is actually false, you have a Type 2 Error
q If the null hypothesis is rejected but the null hypothesis is actually true, you have a Type 1 Error
Further reading: Taylor, C. et al (1987) Thinking it Through: a practical guide to academic essay writing, Academic Skills Centre, Canada
pp.23-29 The Thesis Statement and p.26: exercises
Noorgard, R. (1994) Ideas in Action HarperCollins p. 272
Because questions define the limits of what you know, they can help focus your search to know more. Unlike questions, topics merely point to subject areas. Whether narrow or broad, these subject areas bear little relation to the problem that has you pursuing research. Your first task when starting a research paper is to shift from a topic orientation to a questioning stance -- a stance in which you are constantly formulating and refocusing your research question. Questions are the engines that drive your research. Here\'s why.
1. A research question motivates, focuses, and directs your work. It reminds you why your work matters and what purpose it can serve. Your research question also helps you define your audience, for a question is always answered for someone. Moreover, questions help demystify the research process by suggesting how and where you might direct your inquiry.
2. Pointed questions help ensure that your project is workable given the time and space you have available. As you refine and focus your question, making it always more specific, you can avoid glib generalities of the sort you might find under a general topic heading in an encyclopaedia.
3. Unlike a topic, a question can help you see your way through the avalanche of information you are likely to encounter as you conduct your research. Questions help you identify the information you need and lend relevance to the material you gather. Moreover, only when you formulate a question can you put information to use.
4. A question helps you to define and solve the unknowns in your project. The marvellous thing about a question is that it prompts you to look for an answer. Questions can elicit hunches that, even if vague or unformed, can lead to unforeseen conclusions.
5. As you learn more, questions change. By adopting a questioning stance, you help guarantee that your research will evolve and grow, and not stop at a preliminary point where you may rehearse the obvious. Along with your core question, develop an array of related secondary questions to help you answer more specific issues. Your research question is itself a moving target that can keep your work on the move.
Nunan, D (1992) Research Methods in Language Learning, Cambridge p. 216-8
An essential step in any research project is the literature review. The function of the literature review is to provide background information on the research question, and to identify what others have said and/or discovered about the question. It may well be that in the course of carrying out the literature review, you come across a study which answers the very question you are proposing to investigate. The literature review, if carried out systematically, will acquaint you with previous work in the field, and it should also alert you to problems and potential pitfalls in the chosen area.
A good way to begin a literature review is to prepare an annotated bibliography. As the name suggests, an annotated bibliography contains a list of relevant studies relating to the research question or issue. These may range from brief research reports to books. Each entry contains a summary or abstract of the particular work. The following sample extract from a commercially published literature review provides some idea of the length and detail of the annotations.
Kennedy, C. 1987. Innovation for a change: teacher development and innovation. ELT Journal, 41, 3: 163-170.
Author describes a university level ESP project in Tunisia where the aim was to further teacher education. Teachers were involved with materials production. They were required to produce a materials blueprint taking into consideration questions of approach and design, which make them aware of gaps in their theoretical knowledge about language and learning. Kennedy believes that this approach, i.e. creating a situation which generates a demand for theory arising from a questioning of practice, is the best way to influence deep seated value and belief systems and thus to have a lasting effect on teacher behaviour.
Abstracts such as these can be either kept on index cards or entered into a word processor or computer database to be drawn upon in the creation of a literature review. A literature review differs from an annotated bibliography in that the researcher extracts and synthesises the main points, issues, findings, and research methods which emerge from a critical review of the readings. Merriam (1988) suggests that, in carrying out a literature review, it is a good idea to differentiate between data-based research and non-data-based writings. As the name suggests, data-based literature is based on empirical information collected by the researcher. Non-data-based writings, on the other hand, `reflect the writer\'s experiences or opinions and can range from the highly theoretical to popular testimonials\' (Merriam 1988: 61).
Wiersma (1986) provides the following practical advice for carrying out a literature review:
1. Select studies that relate most directly to the problem at hand.
2. Tie together the results of the studies so that their relevance is clear. Do not simply provide a compendium of seemingly unrelated references in paragraph form.
3. When conflicting findings are reported across studies - and this is quite common in educational research - carefully examine the variations in the findings and possible explanations for them. Ignoring variation and simply averaging effects loses information and fails to recognize the complexity of the problem.
4. Make the case that the research area reviewed is incomplete or requires extension. This establishes the need for research in this area. (Note: This does not make the case that the proposed research is going to meet the need or is of significance.)
5. Although information from the literature must be properly referenced, do not make the review a series of quotations.
6. The review should be organized according to the major points relevant to the problem. Do not force the review into a chronological organization, for example, which may confuse the relevance and continuity among the studies reviewed.
7. Give the reader some indication of the relative importance of results from studies reviewed. Some results have more bearing on the problem than others, and this should be indicated.
8. Provide a closure for the section. Do not terminate with comments from the final study reviewed. Provide a summary and pull together the most important points.
Numerous resources exist to facilitate the literature review process, and most of these can be found in university and college libraries. If one has only a vague idea of the general area one wishes to investigate, it is a good idea to consult an educational encyclopedia to obtain a general overview of the area in question. The library subject catalogue can also provide information on relevant books and periodicals. In order to obtain references to journals it is best to start with a periodical index such as ERIC (Educational Resources Information Centre) or the Reader\'s Guide to Periodical Literature. The ERIC Thesaurus provides descriptors of concepts. Subject indexes such as the Current Index to Journals in Education (CIJE) and Resources in Education (RIE) will give you lists of resources. Finally, there are the specialised abstracting journals such as Language Teaching, which provide summaries of recently published journal articles.
Adapted from Noorgard, R. (1994) Ideas in Action HarperCollins p.265
A summary is an exercise in the art of the miniature. It is a condensed representation of material appearing elsewhere in fuller form. Just as a doll represents human features on a smaller scale, or an architect\'s model reduces a large building so that it might rest in the palm of your hand, so too does the summary condense an essay, a report, or a book to a short statement. Scores, even hundreds of pages, are often rendered in one or more paragraphs.
Summaries require that you portray the ideas of another piece of writing in a brief text that must itself acquire shape and serve a purpose. Although summaries seem merely descriptive, they challenge even the most accomplished writers because they ask you to comprehend and render the underlying logic of what you summarize. Reduced scale becomes but one of several concerns. You must do more than inventory the author\'s points; you must represent issues, assertions, and reasons, all of which function in dynamic relation to each other. As words don\'t shrink the way scale models do, you must discern what is essential to the line of argument, and how individual statements relate to the thrust and function of the whole. Summaries present, then, a double dilemma: you must discern the shape of another piece of writing even as you try to shape your own representation of it.
Principles for shaping ideas can provide a general framework for writing a summary. Because those principles have their origin in the concerns of readers, they provide a useful bridge between reading and writing, source text and the text you now produce. You can apply those principles by thinking of your summary as a "closed" introduction to the text you are summarizing. Let\'s say you\'ve been asked to write a one-paragraph summary of a much longer essay. Your closed paragraph will have an occasion, thesis, and reasons, but it won\'t propel author and reader into a full paper, as an opening would otherwise do. Instead of introducing, the paragraph summarizes. It presents a closed statement independent and coherent in its own terms.
Let\'s see this framework in action by considering a summary that a student wrote of a challenging source text, Martin Luther King, Jr.\'s "Letter from Birmingham Jail."
Martin Luther King, Jr.\'s "Letter from Birmingham Jail," written in 1963 from a jail cell, addresses eight clergymen who have criticized as "unwise and untimely" King\'s attempts to establish racial equality. King argues that immediate non-violent direct action is the only viable alternative remaining for American blacks. One by one, King addresses the various questions raised by those clergy. He states that, though technically an outsider to Birmingham, he has an obligation to fight injustice wherever it may be. He counters the sentiment that recent demonstrations in the city were unfortunate by noting the lamentable conditions that the city\'s white power structure forces upon blacks. Responding to charges of extremism, Kinq explains that he has prevented violence by directing the anger of an op· pressed people through non-violent protest. He notes that tension is often necessary for social progress and justifies non-violent direct action even when it entails openly breaking unjust laws. Drawing upon American tradition, Biblical allusions, and church history, King expresses his disappointment with the white church and white moderates in general, who agree with the principle of equal rights but are reluctant to aid the cause. Racial justice, King argues, will come about only by taking non-violent action now.
This summary captures the essence of King\'s letter because, like that letter, it draws relationships among key ideas. Take a closer look at the strategies behind this summary. Here’s how the very elements of form that lend coherence to your summary can link it to the ideas that shape your source text.
Your occasion for the summary should reflect the author’s occasion for writing. What’s the question at issue? What concern prompts the author to write the essay, article, or book? Be sure to provide some context about your source text; for example, the author’s name, the title of the work, and the circumstances of publication. In the summary of King\'s letter the student found his occasion by recalling King\'s own.
Your thesis in the summary should reflect the author’s thesis. What exactly is the point of the essay or book? The conclusion that the author justifies should serve as the central statement in your own summary. Note that the second sentence of the summary clearly articulates King\'s basic point.
The body of your summary should capture the author’s main reasons that justify his or her point. How does the author structure and develop the discussion? What methods were employed? Having clarified King’s point near the outset of the summary, the student is now able to render the ideas in King\'s letter that justify his assertion.
The concluding point or sentence in your summary should reflect the significance of the article or essay, as might by the case in the author’s own conclusion. What contribution does the author make? Why is the problem being addressed important? The student rounds off his summary by relating King\'s interest in non-violent action to the cause of racial justice.
This general framework for writing a summary provides you with a method for discerning the shape of the author\'s ideas even as you shape your own representation of them.
Because this framework enables you to make connections between two texts, it can also help you understand and meet the key criteria that a summary ought to fulfil.
A summary must be comprehensive and accurate. By focusing on the shape of ideas in both your summary and your source text, you can check whether you include points essential to the statement and development of the author\'s thesis.
A summary must be concise. Your summary should be considerably shorter than the source. In many cases it need not be any longer than one paragraph. You are providing an overview, so do not feel compelled to include every detail or supporting point. By recognizing and rendering only those key elements that generate the author\'s analysis or argument, you are in a position to make your summary concise.
A summary must be coherent. Your summary should make sense in its own right; do not rely on the presence of your source or assume that your reader has already read it. You have a good chance of making your summary coherent if you focus on and represent the key conceptual moves that underlie analysis or argument. Those very same moves lend your source whatever coherence it has.
A summary must be independent. Even as you offer an accurate summary of another author\'s views, you should maintain your own voice and use your own words. You are writing the summary, after all. Paraphrase, except when you need a brief quote to capture a key phrase or idea. As you paraphrase, however, be sure that you do not misrepresent the author or employ a voice inconsistent with that of the source. Accuracy, however, need not make your summary dull. Try to capture what compels the author to engage the subject.
A summary must meet your reader\'s needs. Keep in mind the audience and purpose for which you develop the summary. Unless you are writing for a very specific audience, do not assume that your readers have specialized knowledge about the subject.
TASK: read three articles on a related topic and write a summary of each of them. Then combine the information into a miniature review of literature.
Noorgard, R. (1994) Ideas in Action HarperCollins p.275
Unless you formulate a research question, heading off to the library to "do some research" can easily become a frustrating and fruitless stroll through the stack. Why? Sheer information is not enough. Because any library will have far more information than you need or can use, you must be able to relate information to your own problem-solving concerns. If you don\'t, library work can become a distraction, not a helpful research tool. To set your question in relationship to the work of others, keep these points in mind.
When you look for information, you will find that the library organizes its holdings by subject categories-in other words, topics. To tap the library\'s rich resources, you\'ll need to relate your research question to several of these categories. The danger here is that you might shift your attention to the subject headings themselves, in which case you\'ll quickly have far more information than you can-handle. Remember, you are not looking for information on a topic, you are looking for answers to increasingly specific research questions.
If you feel the need to do some general background reading to make sense of more technical information about your research question, keep in mind why you are reading. Don\'t content yourself with reading about your research question; read to find answers to the question or to ask your question more intelligently If you don\'t, background reading can easily become a way to keep busy while keeping your research at arm’s length.
Your research question is more than a tool for gathering material. Also use it as a screen by which to sort and evaluate the relevance of the materials you find. Because you will come across more articles and books than you can possibly read in depth, look through them quickly with your research question in mind. Glance at the table of contents, skim the preface or introduction, and check the index for topics related to your concerns. Look for clues that tell you how or even whether you should read any one article or book.
As you find sources related to your research question, you must do more than read them for the information they contain; you\'ll also need to evaluate them in terms of the intellectual case their authors present, and in terms of the analysis or argument you yourself are developing.
The importance of your own research question should remind you that other articles and books do not describe information neutrally or aimlessly. To collaborate with researchers who have gone before you, you must recognize that they themselves are asking specific questions and asserting and justifying answers. Don\'t read for content alone; you\'ll also need to recognize how other authors place information in the service of their own analytic or argumentative projects. Look at the introduction and conclusion of an article or book to help you recognize the shape of its ideas-its occasion, thesis, and main supporting points.
Once you have understood a source in its own terms, you can then evaluate it in terms of your own purposes. How does its question at issue relate to your own? How does its thesis relate to the hypothesis you are beginning to form? How does the evidence marshalled in support of its point contribute to or question your own case? In short, how has the material affected your own understanding of the questions you are posing and the answers you are beginning to arrive at and defend? In turn, be sure to relate each article or book to your other sources. Does it reinforce or dispute other findings`? How credible does your source appear to be? Remember that research requires active, purposeful reading. Look beyond discrete nuggets of information that you might passively note down to the relationships you might form among pieces of evidence. Before you record information, ask yourself why and how it might fit into your own project.
Although I have focused chiefly on library sources (or secondary research), essentially the same process goes on as you engage in primary research where you are collecting data yourself.
Before you collect data, formulate your research question carefully. The method and design behind your experiment, interviews, or survey instrument will determine the data you collect. If you don\'t know what question prompts your work, the information you collect will either confuse or confound you.
Keep careful notes. If secondary research requires that you find sources, primary research asks that you collect and record detailed observations or raw data. Don\'t put of writing down these observations in a notebook, for memory can easily trick you into recording what you would like to have seen or heard.
Evaluate what you are doing. Every so often, take a step back from your work and ask yourself what it means. Does the data confirm your working hypothesis, or do you need to revise the questions you are asking orthe tentative conclusions you are forming? What sort of information does your research design screen out? What remains ambiguous?
Adapted from Noorgard, R. (1994) Ideas in Action HarperCollins p.275
As you conduct your research, the specific nature of your question will change, as will your tentative hypothesis. At the early stages of your research, your inquiry will focus on your initial questions and on questions raised by the data or material you uncover. As you begin to write your paper, your focus changes – it now centres on testing and justifying the conclusions you have reached. Your goal should be to offer a tightly reasoned case that supports your conclusion on a question at issue.
Because of this shift in focus, the shape you lend to your case usually does not reflect the actual twists and turns in the process by which you arrived at your conclusions. Likewise, your paper will not include all of the information you have uncovered nor will it mention all of the insights you have gained. The paper inverts the direction of inquiry – you are now reasoning from and supporting a conclusion rather than working your way toward one. Nevertheless, the questions you have used to draw relationships among ideas can prepare you to justify them.
Your research question can serve as the basis for your paper\'s occasion. Just as your question focused and guided your inquiry, so too can your occasion launch your presentation of its fruits. You needn\'t voice all the preliminary research questions that led you to settle on your particular concern. In fact, you should avoid retelling the story of your research process. Focus instead on articulating the question at the heart of your project. That question, not the trail of your research, will engage your readers\' interest and establish the relevance of your conclusion. How you frame your occasion will depend on the audience you address. If your audience is not specified, engage the question at issue much as you would for someone who entered the research process knowing only what you did yourself.
The hunches and tentative hypotheses that helped direct the research process can serve as the basis for your dissertation. As you draft and revise your paper, your obligation is to refine and appropriately qualify the conclusion you present. As with preliminary research questions, you needn\'t discuss those hypotheses that proved inadequate or were misguided. Your task is to articulate your best, reasoned opinion on a matter of dispute or concern. Drafting your research paper can help you arrive at conclusions and test whether you can justify them before intelligent readers.
The information you gather during the research process will surely contribute to the reasons that project the organization of your paper. But to turn information into evidence, you must place information in the service of your analysis or argument. Having worked toward a conclusion, you must now call upon key pieces of information to serve as evidence in support of your point. You needn\'t, in fact shouldn\'t, include all that you uncovered during your research. Your task is to justify your conclusion while answering whatever questions or objections sceptical readers may pose. To sharpen the analytic or argumentative edge your paper should carry, make sure that you organize it as carefully as a lawyer who is trying a case. If you simply reshuffle the deck of your note cards into loosely related topical headings, you may lend some surface organization to your paper but little if any logical coherence to your case.
By viewing the research process in light of the conceptual demands of analysis and argument, you can avoid the three pitfalls into which many novice writers fall.
q Their research papers often lack motivation, a reason to be written and read.
q The papers usually waffle on (or entirely avoid) a point or conclusion, opting instead to catalogue existing views or moderate differing opinions.
q The papers often become little more than strings of sources overwhelming readers with an avalanche of information that might otherwise be used to build a tightly reasoned case.
By focusing on the shape and shaping of ideas, you can lend to your own work the continuity and coherence that others often lack. Don\'t let your research justify the old joke that you\'re simply moving bones from one grave to another. If you think critically from the start, you can find and justify the best possible answers to questions that matter. For you, as for your professors, this shared inquiry is what university study is all about.
The following notes come from Thomas Robb\'s on-line course introducing TESL-L to language teachers.
This uses your email address. There are many Listservs for a wide range of interests. When you join one, you and all other subscribers to it automatically receive emails that members post. The following sections describe joining one particular list, but the information is generally applicable to all lists. Other lists are mentioned later in this chapter. You can find still more lists through the internet. NB: Listserv is not an internet application; it is email.
TESL-L is the oldest and largest mailing list for Teachers of English as a Second Language. There are over 20,000 subscribers from many parts of the world on the mailing list but actually only about 5,000 are receiving the messages at any one time. The others are set to NOMAIL. The number of messages on the list can be overwhelming: from 15 to 30 messages a day. The messages focus on classroom issues, including class management, ways to handle the teaching of specific items and problems of English usage. There is some \'bulletin board\' material (such as conference announcements) as the purpose of the list is to encourage the discussion of issues. The list is moderated which means that volunteer editors check each message to make sure that it is within the posting guidelines before allowing it to be posted. This keeps the quality of the messages rather high and keeps the volume lower than it would otherwise be.
Here is a list of the subjects of some of the messages. Some of these subjects have been the topic of a series of messages (called a thread in mailing list parlance):
§ Corpus search
§ Materials for beginners
§ Changing grammar books
§ Plays for intermediate students
§ Japanese social discourse norms
§ Correction/evaluation of written work
§ Teaching children
§ Teaching beginners in English only
§ Ideas for conversations
§ Globalization of English?
For those who are interested in such matters, there is probably no better way to obtain a range of viewpoints on an issue.
1. Send an email to <LISTSERV@CUNYVM.CUNY.EDU
2. In the message say: SUB TESL-L your-name-here. Leave the Subject blank.
When you join you will receive a number of automatic messages. The main one, the "WELCOME MESSAGE" is rather long – about 29K. It contains lots of useful information on how to use the various Listserv functions, \'netiquette\', etc.
If you do not want to receive any mailings send an email to the same address with the message:
SET TESL-L NOMAIL
If you want to receive only a listing of the subjects of the messages each day (the index option)
SET TESL-L INDEX
If you want to receive all of the messages of one day in one single long message (the DIGEST option)
SET TESL-L DIGEST
To revert to receiving individual messages, you send
SET TESL-L NODIGEST or SET TESL-L NOINDEX
Searching an archive means that you can find specific words in past listserv messages. You might be researching Afro-American women\'s literature or using songs in the classroom or practising the subjunctive or rap or discipline or teaching blind students or just about anything.
To instigate a search, send an email to: <LISTSERV@CUNYVM.CUNY.EDU with the message
To search for several things in the same search. This will only find articles that contain both SONG and RAP
To search for alternatives. This will find articles that contain either of these words.
A mixed criteria search. This will only turn up messages that contain both A and B and either C or D
Adding optional criteria. This actually would not be a very fruitful search because the number of results would be overwhelming.
Two common errors in searching
Error 1: Searching for an abstract term.
§ You need to specify words that are likely to appear in the article itself. Articles on aspects of "American Literature," for example, might not contain that specific phrase at all. It is useless, and therefore counterproductive to specify it as a keyword.
Error 2: Making your keywords too specific
§ forgetting synonyms. When thinking of words that might occur in the document you are searching for, be sure to include synonyms for the terms, as well. For example, if you were searching for information on irregular verbs in English, some people call these \'strong verbs\' so you should specify both (with OR not AND).
§ (b) using multi-word phrases. Unless you are absolutely sure that the phrase exists in the document in exactly the form you specify, do not use multi-word keywords. For example, if you wanted information on using videos for teaching English, specifying "teaching video" would not be as good as specifying only video. If you really want the document to contain the word teach as well, specify it as a separate term.
An example of a bad search phrase search is modal verbs and English in TESL-L. Why?
1. "Modal verbs" are often referred to simply as modals in English. If the poster never used the phrase "modal verbs" your search won\'t discover it.
2. ALL of the postings on TESL-L are about English, so there is no need to specify it. A better search phrase for modal in TESL-L is to specify just modal – it will match both modal and modals.
Another example where the results of these three searches would be different.
Finds messages that contain both words in the message
Finds the exact phrase
Not recommended- erratic results
Exercise: For each of the following searches, choose the keyword phrase that would most likely give the best results.
1. You want to find English games that would be of interest to teenagers in the TESL-L message database:
a. Search "English games" and teenagers in TESL-L
b. Search games and teenagers and English in TESL-L
c. Search games in TESL-L
d. Search games and (teenagers or teens) in TESL-L
2. You want to find information on using "tongue twisters" in class for pronunciation practice.
a. Search tongue and twisters in TESL-L
b. Search tongue twisters and pronunciation in TESL-L
c. Search "tongue twisters" and pronunciation in TESL-L
d. Search "tongue twisters" in TESL-L
3. You are interested in finding out what other people think about the advantages and disadvantages of using the students\' native language in the English classroom.
a. Search "native language" near use in TESL-L
b. Search "native language" or "only English" or "English only" in TESL-L
c. Search (english near only) and not movement in TESL-L
d. Search "using the native language" in TESL-L
Once you have sent your search:
1. The Listserv will then send back to you a listing of messages matching your criteria – or the first 100 of them if there are more than that. Each item is numbered and described briefly.
2. Send a second message to the Listserv to "order" the messages that you want. You do this with the GETPOST statement, specifying the numbers of the messages that you want.
Obtaining a messages: send another message to LISTSERV@CUNYVM.CUNY.EDU. This
Obtaining several messages – just leave a space between their item numbers
Obtaining consecutive messages – use a hyphen. This would get messages 1771, 1772 and 1773.
1) Think of a topic that you would like to obtain information about and send in a search command to CUNYVM. (If your search turns up no results or too many results, modify your keywords and try again.) Remember that TESL-L is a list concerning the teaching of English, so what you search for must be something that would be a likely topic of discussion on such a list.
2) Send in an order using the GETPOST command for a number of the messages.
Here is a sample of some of the files. Each file has a 2-part name, such as "40 TIPS". The information to the right can be ignored, although the date of submission can be used to check how current the file is. The number to the left of the date indicates the number of lines in the file. This is a sample from the A\'s for the first part of the archive, "Classroom practices and activities, issues of teaching and learning".
40 TIPS TEM OWN V 73 455 95/01/19 11:33:19 *
From the newsletter Hands-On English, here are 40 tips to make your teaching easier and more effective.
ADVANCED LEARNERS TEM OWN V 84 788 95/07/25 17:45:17 *
TESL-Lers\' responses to the question: What do advanced students need?
AL-GT METHODS TEM OWN V 133 891 96/01/19 13:57:56 *
Are audio-lingual and grammar-translation methods extinct in EFL/ESL classrooms? A TESL-L discussion.
ALICE FILE TEM OWN V 80 431 95/06/01 00:17:07 *
A set of worksheets to use with Alice in Wonderland.
ART FILE TEM OWN V 79 422 97/06/30 11:09:09 *
Suggestions on teaching ESL/EFL through art.
Originally all of the material in the archives was listed in this one \'Filelist\' but as it grew and became unwieldy, sections of it were made into separate filelists which bear the names given in capital letters on the right below.
Classroom practices and activities, issues of teaching and learning
Testing and evaluation
Computers in ESL - activities, hardware, and software
Books, periodicals, and other materials
FORUM lists files from the USIS Forum magazine (only 1994-1996)
Net resources and email
Organizations and conferences
The profession of ESL/EFL around the world
The English language
To obtain a file, there are two basic steps:
To get a filelist, send an email to <LISTSERV@CUNYVM.CUNY.EDU>
The syntax is
Send a command to ANY Listserv with the following syntax:
This only works for the EXACT WORD OR PHRASE that you put on the right side of the \'/\' mark not with combination of keywords. The result will be a \'list of lists\' each one with a one-line explanation.
Example: LIST GLOBAL /American history
Note that it only searches for this word or phrase in a very short description of the list (About 25 words), so a one-word keyword probably will yield the best results. You can then subscribe to promising-looking lists, and do a search of their message database for info on your topic of interest.
If you put in keywords such as \'other lists\' you might find someone who posted a message which recommends other possible lists to try. One drawback of this method is that it only lists "Listserv" lists. There are a number of other "mailservers" out there which are similar to Listserv, although none of them seem to have all of the features such as message archiving, file archiving and search functions. Another problem is that some of the lists that it pulls up are not active, or are only for a specific group of individuals, like those taking a certain course at a university, etc. It sometimes isn\'t until you subscribe and never receive any messages that you find out that the list is \'dead.\'
Other Mailing Lists relevant to English teaching and teachers
Computers and technology 5-10 messages a day.
Jobs, employment and professional advancement. About 5 messages a day.
Intensive language institutes. 2-3 messages a day.
Materials writers. Has lulls of 5-10 with no messages, then lots of activity.
Teaching English for Specific Purposes. Relatively new, but active. 5-10 messages a day.
\'Fluency First\' (Whole Language) list.
Kindergarten through Secondary School. Tends to centre on U.S.-based problems. 2-3 messages a day.
You can subscribe to all of these in the same way as TESL-L. You need to retain your TESL-L subscription, even if set to NOMAIL, to join all of the above except for TESLK-12 which has a slightly different status.
NETEACH-L This list is similar to TESLCA-L, but has a narrower focus – using the Internet for teaching, while CA-L is concerned with ANY use of computers for language learning.
To subscribe, send a message to <firstname.lastname@example.org> saying
The NETEACH-L webpage can be found at http://www.ilc.cuhk.edu.hk/english/neteach/main.html
Note that this list does NOT use the "Listserv" software, so the commands are a little different. You need to spell out \'Subscribe\' completely for it to recognize the command, for instance. Some of the other essential commands follow.
If you prefer to receive your daily messages in one bundle, send the following as the body of a message to <email@example.com>
To put your messages on hold, without unsubscribing from the list, send the following message to <firstname.lastname@example.org>:
To restart your messages, send the following message to <email@example.com>:
Also, since this isn\'t a \'Listserv\' it doesn\'t have the very valuable message search function. There are about 25 files which are summaries of interesting discussion \'threads\' available through the www site.
FLTEACH – This is a very active list concerning the teaching of ALL foreign languages. It is the main list in the U.S. for non-ESL teachers. This is a Listserv, so you can subscribe in the same way at TESL-L. It also has the same message search facility. FLTEACH@listserv.acsu.buffalo.edu
The archives are also available via their www page: http://www.cortland.edu/www_root/flteach/flteach.html
CETEFL – This is a local list for EFL professionals, based in Prague: <LISTSERV@LISTSERV.VSE.CZ> Use the standard Listserv subscription method: SUBSCRIBE CETEFL your-full-name-here
Since this is a \'local list\' you might find it a good place to exchange views with colleagues with similar problems.
SLART-L – "Second Language Acquisition Research and Teaching"
This list also is managed by the CUNYVM Listserv although it has no connection to the TESL-L lists. The discussions tend to be theoretical and sometimes a bit pedantic. There appears to be a small community of regular posters, some of whom are actually quite knowledgeable!
EDTECH – "Educational Technology" This list is where the people in charge of school computer labs and those who use computers with elementary and secondary school classes hang out. It\'s a great place to get advice on how to fix problems with your equipment or where to purchase rare equipment (like replacement mouse balls). This is a Listserv run out of Michigan State University and is \'moderated\' like TESL-L.
Address: <LISTSERV@msu.edu> The messages are also available via WWW. LLTI – "Language Learning Technology and Instruction" This list is basically where the directors of \'learning laboratories\' hang out – what used to be called \'Language Laboratories\'. A number of people at the forefront of software development regularly read and contribute to this list. This is also a moderated Listserv. Address: <LLTI@LISTSERV.DARTMOUTH.EDU> OTHER TOPIC AREAS
If you need to search for a relevant list, one good search page which claims to have 90,000 mailing lists indexed is:
Another \'list of lists\' is the one compiled by a team lead by Diane Kovacs. The list can be searched via the www at either of these URLs:
We have covered most useful lists related to pedagogy and technology, so for this assignment, you need to decide on one \'content area\' that you would like to have more information about, then search for a mailing list that discusses that content. You might, for example, look for a list that discusses some aspect of \'American Studies.\'
1a) For people with e-mail only access: Find lists on a topic using the "LIST GLOBAL" technique mentioned above
1b) For those with Web browsers: Search both Liszt.com and Kovacs.
2) Subscribe to the list that potentially looks the most useful.
3) If the list is a Listserv list with a message archive, do a quick keyword search on a topic of interest.
Looking back at the way things used to be, one might think that things could never be simpler than today. There is a wealth of different tools to allow you to find virtually anything on the Internet. In fact, if you can\'t find something you are looking for, the reason is probably that it doesn\'t yet exist on the Web! Naturally, there is a lot that isn\'t available, particularly in the category of books and other publications that are still under copyright. It is wonder that people need to buy books these days. This is especially true with anything that concerns computers (naturally). Whole books really are available.
There are three general categories of resources for finding information on the web:
These are pages that only contain links to other pages. Any page that has links to other information outside of their own site has \'meta-information\'. It is often the case that once you find one good meta-site for your area of interest, it will be linked to many others. People sometimes complain that they can\'t get to the real data instead just going from one meta-site to another, to another and then back to the original site again! The first three links on my own favourite listing later in this lesson will link you to virtually every site related to English language teaching.
2. Hierarchical directory listings
These commercial sites start with broad categories, such as Arts & Humantities, Education, Entertainment, Sports, etc., which are in turn divided into finer categories and ending up with a list of links. (a meta-site). They are very useful when the information you want falls in a neat category. And the links selected are often, but not always, of fairly good quality since someone has passed judgement on them when they were included in the directory. The earliest and still probably the best one of these is Yahoo, <http://www.yahoo.com> which was developed at Stanford University, California. Lycos, which originated at Carnegie Mellon University (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) now has its own listings in competition with Yahoo <http://www.lycos.com> which seems to slowly be gaining prominence over its original search engine function. Lycos has various national versions. The British version <http://www.lycos.co.uk> will also do a search of the entire web but the categories that are presented are designed for local consumption. Other Yahoos and Lycoses are rapidly springing up all over the world, to keep up with the mushrooming demand.
3. Search engines
These are sites which have indexed virtually all the pages that are available on the internet, allowing you to search them by keywords. One search engine boasts 50,000,000 pages. Another 100,000,000!! The results are returned virtually instantaneously, which never ceases to amaze me. (If you have to wait for the results, it\'s due to a slow internet connection, not the search engine.) AltaVista <http://www.altavista.com> is my favourite when I need something fast and think that I can find it quickly. HotBot <http://www.hotbot.com> is my second choice because it contains a number of heuristics that make it easier to find specialized data. First, it can present you with up to 100 choices on one (long) screen while AltaVista still limits you to 10 hits per screen. Since reading in a new screen takes time, HotBot is a lot faster. HotBot also allows you to specify how your keywords are to be treated. For example, you can specify that the entered words should be treated as a single phrase, and it will then only return documents that match that exact phrase. (In theory it isn\'t quite that accurate since their index algorithm ignores the high frequency words of English so it can\'t check for them.)
Links for English Learning & Teaching
Below is a brief, eclectic selection of links that you might find are useful. The actual URLs are not included here because you can obtain them all by going to the actual page: http://www.kyoto-su.ac.jp/~trobb/langlinks.html
JALT - Japan Association for Language Teaching
JACET - Japan Association of College English Teachers
Linguistic Funland – Links to other sites, cgi scripts, e-publications, corpus linguistics, study programs, employment and more!
Dave\'s ESL Cafe – Chat center, Graffiti Wall, Idiom Page, Links for Teachers, Interactive Grammar Quizzes,
Links to ELT Publishers
Internet TESL Journal Over 3700 links. Lots of practical stuff, monthly articles, a good collection by topic of past articles, activities for students, links to virtually every other site. TESL-EJ The profession\'s first fully-referred academic journal on the web.
CELIA Freeware and Shareware software archives. Student E-mail lists (SL Lists) How to arrange keypals for your students the easy way. Deborah Healey\'s Technology Tip of the Month Monthly tidbits of great advice!
AltaVista, Hotbot, Lycos, Yahoo. There is a more comprehensive listing here.
Useful resources for the classroom
The International Lyrics Server – Songs
Drew\'s Script-o-Rama – Movie scripts
International Movie Database – Movie reviews, summaries & data CyberESL \'97 PCI page (Lots of introductory info on the Internet)
A Beginner\'s Guide to HTML Annabella\'s HTML Guide A very user-friendly site!
Home page: http://web.bham.ac.uk/johnstf/homepage.htm
Its contents should, however, be disseminated (as research is not research unless communicated-Stern 1983). A range of alternatives to the academic journal article exist (for example, conference presentation, teacher-center poster), most of which are probably more effective in disseminating the information contained in such a report .
The radical wing of action research deserves our support for the following reasons: its results are actually as relevant to the immediate needs and problems of teachers as any research can be; it supports the process of teacher reflection, which is vital for educational renewal and professional growth; engaging in action research may facilitate teachers doing other kinds of research and using the results of such research; and because of its basis in critical theory, it faces up to the unquestioned values embodied in educational institutions which regularly threaten to cut the ground from under teachers, ‘deprofessionalizing’ them and preventing the delivery of true education.
Research should not be presented as something that people other teachers do, and it should not be written in a language teachers do not read or speak. The conducting of action research as a means of critical reflection on teaching and on the socio-political context in which teachers find themselves has the potential to be a major component in the continuing struggle to improve SL teaching. (Revised version received October 1992)
As Winter (1989: 73-4) states:
since our writing emerges from a different set of relationships (collaborative and action-oriented, rather than authoritative and observation-oriented) the format of our writing should also be different. . . . Certain stylistic features of ‘academic’ writing could also be seen as inappropriate for action-research reports, i.e. those . . . which seem to express the expert role by suggesting a withdrawal from personal involvement, and a sustained abstraction from concrete detail.
The reports are, after all, intended for a particular audience:
fellow action researchers involved in the work reported;
the researcher him/herself, in that the reporting process is part of the reflection involved in changing practice; and fellow teachers in similar situations (Winter 1989).
• when the student feels motivated by the topic; when the thesis reflects some personal interest of the student; passion
• regular progress, regular consultations
• a well organised piece of research with a definite conclusion.
• in the case of a translation diploma dissertation, a solid piece of translated text accompanied by a theoretical component that is clearly related to the practical part and constituting about half the dissertation.
• the theory has academic support
• primary research
• sharply focused argument &/or analysis
• every part of the dissertation must be relevant to the topic. for example, incidental biographical information should not be included.
• clearly set out with appropriate headings and subheadings.
• original ideas integrated with relevant quotes, properly cited.
• fluent writing – interesting writing that actually argues a point.
• the sense that the student is not just well read, but has done some practical and original research
• the willingness to be controversial and hold one’s own against stiff opposition
• students with some sense of the philosophical background to what they are doing, i.e., avoidance of cultural/political naivety.
• attention to detail in both presentation and content.
• resourcefulness and initiative in the quest for originality.
• a dissertation should not just be research carried in a library – rather in the real-life environment of the subject.
• playing devil’s advocate with facile answers
• when the student produces a bound work that s/he can feel proud of because they have assembled and presented research on an issue of importance to them.
• little will to enter uncovered ground, to investigate
• leave writing up the research to the last minute
• simplistic regurgitation of known ideas and the obvious
• lack of direction; unfocused ideas
• limited practical research
• when the topic is too general, the dissertation is superficial. for example, a student would not usually write about one author or one work, rather the investigation should be of an aspect, such as religion, gender stereotypes.
• plagiarism; ineffective or irrelevant use of quotes
• failure to express one’s own ideas
• poor unimaginative setting out;
• deliberately wordy, aimed to impress
• simplistic language (naive)
• inability to reject ideas – not all ideas are good
• use of material for support rather than for illumination – just as a drunk uses a lamp post
• too many language errors in the final work
• binding of the dissertation before the supervisor gives the nod
• unsubstantiated personal opinions are not welcome
• inadequate bibliography (just look at the bibliography for any academic article!)
• illogical or absent progression of the argument
Students are referred to the following works:
1. Chapters 17 to 19 in the following companion books provide a solid consolidation and extension of grammatical awareness on writing longer stretches of text – longer than the sentence!
Greenbaum, S & Quirk, R. (1990) A Student’s Grammar of the English Language, Longman
Chalker, Sylvia (1992) A Student’s English Grammar Workbook, Longman
2. The final chapter in the following book similarly contains important information and exercises for writing text as well as some user-friendly advice for making your writing even more readable.
Leech, G., Deuchar, M., Hoogenraad. (1982) English Grammar for Today Macmillan
3. The next book contains a vast amount of practical advice on dissertation preparation in general. It is written neither for the language or linguistic specialist nor even for the non-native speaker especially.
Taylor, C. et al (1987) Thinking it Through: a practical guide to academic essay writing, Academic Skills Centre, Canada
4. A dictionary that contains complementation and pragmatic information is essential for non-native speakers. The following is one such dictionary and is available in both book and CD forms.
Cobuild (1995) English Dictionary, Collins
5. The next book has already been quoted from and used in the current booklet. Chapter 6 Sustaining Your Discussion contains excellent guides and illustrations concerning paragraph writing, dealing particularly effectively with coherence and linking.
Noorgard, R. (1994) Ideas in Action HarperCollins p.271-2
6. The last book contains explanations and exercises concerning the extensive range of linking resources available in English. Given the fact that there are so many of them, often expressing only subtle differences, the student needs to be aware of them. This is very important for writing text. Some key exercises from this book follow immediately in the current work as samples. Working through whole book would be very profitable.
Chalker, Sylvie (1996) Linking Words (Cobuild Guides: #9), Collins
In each of the following pieces of text, choose the best connector from the underlined alternatives.
1) She was a good judge of character and felt he spoke the truth. Besides/Instead/Nevertheless she didn\'t care for him.
2) The traffic was so heavy that the driver went slowly and was often forced to stop. Soon, furthermore/however/moreover we were on a faster road, and we picked up speed.
3) She had thought she would be grateful for their company on the drive back to Algiers, but for one thing/instead/likewise they were making her nervous.
4) You can now telephone our credit card hotline on 0121 414 6203. Accordingly/Alternatively/Equally complete the order form and return it to the address printed.
5) Tom\'s mother had been determined that he should not become a coal miner like his father and brothers. Accordingly/All in all/At the same time, she had sent him away to live with her sister, who was married to a shopkeeper in Hereford.
6) I believe my career has been well-spent. At last/At least/At the same time that is my view.
7) As one grows older, so all the body processes slow down and food is less well-utilized than it once was. Extra vitamins are in addition/instead/therefore needed to compensate for this.
8) The recent recession has destroyed a high proportion of vacation jobs. Hence/However/Nonetheless, we would expect student debt to be on a sharp rise at present.
9) I take my two dogs with me everywhere I go. Even so/For that matter/So my friends are pretty used to them by now.
10) That\'s why I\'ve come here today, to tell your mother that her brother needs more money. Well, that\'s my excuse, also/ anyway/indeed.
11) This was not a well-travelled road. Even so/For example/Moreover, it was an extremely dusty one.
12) Disappointingly, though, the symptoms continued; indeed/otherwise/similarly it is only in the last few weeks or so that I have been free of them.
13) It is appropriate at the end of this important period to reflect upon a major development of benefit to all aircraft, namely/likewise/or rather, navigational and automatic piloting equipment.
14) He pulled a small enamel box out of the pocket of his jacket and placed it on the table in front of him. Next/Then again/Thus he tore a blank page from his notebook and folded it in two.
15) We will ensure that anything you ask for is delivered directly to your hotel room. Likewise/Otherwise/Thereby, if you wish to visit the ballet or opera, this too will be arranged.
Exercise 12 (Chapter 6)
In each of the following pieces of text, choose the best word from among the underlined alternatives, and say what it refers to.
1) Even today, when it has been widely filmed and photographed, Tibetan-style debating remains an astonishing spectacle, with its stamping, posturing and hand-clapping. No outsider since Desideri had regularly taken part in this act/action/activity.
2) If something won\'t go right in a painting, the solution is to return to the original subject and try to see with greater clarity what you are aiming to recreate in paint. Sometimes in these circumstances/this context/this position/this experience it can be helpful to put down your brushes and make a separate drawing of the subject.
3) Inform air-traffic control that your aircraft has been taken over by terrorists and that you are changing course and proceeding to Cyprus. When you have done that, tell the passengers of this development/effect/result and warn them not to make any stupid moves.
4) Of course he\'d been talking in his sleep and of course he\'d not known what he was saying. But the fact that he\'d said that name meant it must be in mind. Sometimes, when she reached this point, she was able to dismiss the whole episode/event/ happening as nonsense.
5) Hyperventilation, or overbreathing, is breathing in a rapid, shallow way using the upper chest instead of the abdomen. Breathing in this manner/method/means produces more oxygen than the body needs.
6) Pressure to get tough on international fossil thieves has grown steadily, along with the prices collectors pay for top-grade specimens. The fact/issue/topic has come to a head over a piece of moon rock now in the hands of a private collector in the US.
7) \'Here\'s what to do. If the police ask you, just say you can\'t remember who bought you the drink. Say the place was full of rich tourists and it must have been one of them.\' This plan/theory/view seemed to please the boy, who grinned and said `Right. No problem.\'
8) Suppose you do have one hundred people who do like and approve of you. Are you happy? No, because you are worried that the one hundred and first person might not like you. This argument/belief/criticism condemns you to never being able to enjoy the positive feelings of those who do like you fully.
9) I am sure that there is some way in which a couple who have been turned down for adoption can be given an adult explanation for the denial/excuse/refusal.
10) I am going to help your parents get you better. We won\'t let you get any more ill, nor let you die, and nor will we let you get overweight, which I know is another doubt/fear/objection you have.
a) Your paper should be printed on one side of the sheet only. The main text can be one and half or double-spaced throughout. Use a 12-point font for the main text. Footnotes and references must be single-spaced. Use a 10-point font.
b) Leave adequate margins (i.e. at least 2 cm.) on all four sides.
c) All pages of the manuscript (except the title page) should be consecutively numbered.
d) The sections of the paper should be arranged in the order: table of contents, main text, notes and references.
e) The length of your paper will normally be prescribed by the tutor/lecturer. Use the word-count on your computer to check that your paper is neither too long nor too short, and that you have a balance between the various sections.
If you use a word-processor there should be no need for corrections. Any errors discovered after printing should be corrected neatly in ink.
Both American English and British English forms are acceptable, but spelling must be consistent throughout. If your word-processor has a spelling checker, set it for either British or American English, and use it.
a) Short quotations (not more than ca. 10 words) should be run-on (i.e., included within the text) and should be enclosed within double quotation marks.
b) Longer quotations should be typed single-spaced and indented about 2 cm from the left margin. They are not to be enclosed within quotation marks.
c) All quotations should follow the original text exactly – in wording, spelling, and punctuation. Any additions by the author should be indicated by square brackets [ ]. Indicate omissions by ellipsis points without brackets: ...
d) Quotations from foreign languages which are used in the text should be given first in the original language and then your translation enclosed in square brackets should follow.
a) Construct a consistent hierarchy of titles and headers. If you work in Outline Mode on your word processor, this can be achieved automatically. The styles for each level of text can be set at any stage and will create a consistency. Give your styles names such as chapter heading, subheading 1, 2 etc., body text, quotations, etc. Never hesitate to read the manual and help screens on your word processor.
b) The first line of the text in a new section should be flush left (i.e. not indented); all subsequent new paragraphs in the section should be indented.
c) In titles and headings, capitalise only the first letter of the first word and of such other words as the orthography of the language require to begin with a capital letter (e.g. proper nouns). The same applies to the table of contents.
a) Italicise the titles of books, essays, pamphlets, published documents, newspapers, periodicals, but not the titles of articles, which should be between double quotation marks. (But see also below "Sample Bibliography".) Titles in foreign languages should be translated into the language of the text following the original title and be placed within square brackets.
b) Italics should not be used to indicate emphasis. It is better to use syntactic means such as word order. Bold type can be used as a last resort.
a) Use double quotation marks for direct quotations.
b) Use single quotation marks for \'qualified\' words or phrases.
c) Quotation marks go inside punctuation when only part of a sentence is quoted or when the title of an article, a contribution to a book, a poem etc. is quoted. They are placed outside punctuation when complete sentences are cited.
d) Words containing prefixes are written without hyphens as long as no misreading will result: antimentalism, subdialect. The prefix is followed by a hyphen when the next element begins with a capital letter: proto-Germanic.
e) Do not confuse the dash – which is sentence punctuation, with the hyphen - which is word punctuation.
a) Avoid using too many abbreviations as they often pose severe problems for readers not completely familiar with the language of a text.
b) Abbreviations ending in a small letter have a full stop following them (OFr., Gk., Lat.), while those ending in a capital letter do not (MHG, OCS, OE).
d) Where more than one abbreviation is acceptable, select one and use it consistently throughout the text.
a) A letter, word, phrase, or sentence cited as a linguistic example or as the subject of discussion must be italicised; do not use quotation marks for this purpose.
b) Cited forms in a foreign language should be followed at least at first occurrence by a gloss in single quotation marks. No comma follows the gloss unless it is required by the sentence as a whole; e.g. Lat. Ovis \'sheep\'; equus `horse\', and canis `dog\' are nouns. (NB: the punctuation is outside the quotation mark.)
c) Phonetic transcriptions should be placed between square brackets [ ] and use IPA symbols. Phonemic examples should be placed between slashes /.../, as in, e.g. "there are three allophones of the English phoneme /1/".
d) If your computer does not have an IPA font, special (e.g. phonetic or phonemic) symbols and other special characters should be inserted in the copy in ink. Diacritics over and under the letters should be drawn in the exact position they are meant to occupy. In leaving blank space for insertion of symbols by hand, it is better to overestimate the space required rather than to leave too little.
e) Examples should be numbered thus: (86). Do not start numbering your examples anew with each new heading or subheading.
a) For a work by a single author: notes are numbered serially throughout the text and should be placed in a separate section at the end of the text before the bibliography.
b) Note numbers in text are indicated by a raised superscript devoid of any punctuation or parentheses.
c) All punctuation marks, as well as closing parentheses precede note numbers in the text.
Numbers should appear to the left, followed by a full stop and the text is indented.
a) Full citation details of the literature referred to is given in the bibliography at the end of the manuscript.
b) In the text itself, only brief citations are included. These take the form (Hockett 1964: 240-241). Note that the page numbers given here are only for the passage of an article or book to which reference is actually made and not to the entire work. Avoid global references such as (Chomsky 1965).
c) Citations of books by more than one author take the form (Bartsch - Vennemann 1982), (Smith - Brown - Jones 1989). For books with more than three authors the name of the first author plus "et al." is used (Adamson et al. 1985).
d) When a citation refers to a work consisting of more than one volume, the form (1976, 1: 210) is used.
e) Reprint editions are cited as follows: Gablentz (: 70) or, if it is important that the original date of publication is included in the text: (1901 : 70).
f) For brief citations, use initials or first names only when needed to distinguish two or more authors with identical last names, provided they are referred to in the bibliography.
g) If an author\'s name is part of the running text, use this form: "Bloomfield (1933: 264) introduced the term...".
Sources on the World Wide Web that students and scholars use in their research include scholarly projects, reference databases, the texts of books, articles in periodicals, and professional and personal sites. These recommendations are derived from the second edition of the Modern Language Association of America Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing (1998).
_Victorian Women Writers Project_. Ed. Perry Willett. Apr. 1997. Indiana
U. 26 Apr. 1997 <http://www.indiana.edu/~letrs/vwwp/>.
_Portuguese Language Page_. U of Chicago. 1 May 1997
Lancashire, Ian. Home page. 1 May 1997
Nesbit, E[dith]. _Ballads and Lyrics of Socialism_. London, 1908.
_Victorian Women Writers Project_. Ed. Perry Willett. Apr. 1997.
Indiana U. 26 Apr. 1997
Nesbit, E[dith]. "Marching Song." _Ballads and Lyrics of Socialism_.
London, 1908. _Victorian Women Writers Project_. Ed. Perry Willett. Apr.
1997. Indiana U. 26 Apr. 1997
"Fresco." _Britannica Online_. Vers. 97.1.1. Mar. 1997. Encyclopaedia
Britannica. 29 Mar. 1997 <http://www.eb.com:180>.
Flannagan, Roy. "Reflections on Milton and Ariosto." _Early Modern
Literary Studies_ 2.3 (1996):16 pars. 22 Feb. 1997
Landsburg, Steven E. "Who Shall Inherit the Earth?" _Slate_ 1 May 1997.
2 May 1997 <http://www.slate.com/Economics/97-05-01/Economics.asp>.
Koretz, Gene. "Economic Trends: Uh-Oh, Warm Water." _Business Week_ 21
July 1997:22. Electric Lib. Sam Barlow High School Lib., Gresham, OR. 17
Oct. 1997 <http://www.elibrary.com/>.
"Table Tennis." _Comptons Encyclopedia Online_. Vers. 2.0. 1997.
America Online. 4 July 1998. Keyword: Comptons.
Merrian, Joanne. "Spinoff: Monsterpiece Theatre." Online posting. 30
Apr. 1994. Shaksper: The Global Electronic Shakespeare Conference. 27
Aug. 1997 <http://www.arts.ubc.ca/english/iemls/shak/
In parenthetical references in the text, works on the World Wide Web are cited just like printed works. For any type of source, you must include information in your text that directs readers to the correct entry in the works-cited list. Web documents generally do not have fixed page numbers or any kind of section numbering. If your source lacks numbering, you have to omit numbers from your parenthetical references. If your source includes fixed page numbers or section numbering (such as numbering of paragraphs), cite the relevant numbers. Give the appropriate abbreviation before the numbers:"(Moulthrop, pars. 19-20)." (Pars. is the abbreviation for paragraphs). For a document on the Web, the page numbers of a printout should normally not be cited, because the pagination may vary in different printouts.
The source for this information is:
("Documenting Sources from the World Wide Web" _MLA Style_. Sept. 1998.
Modern Language Association. 12 April 1999.
The following refers to publication of research: it is the author\'s responsibility to request any permission required for the use of material owned by others. When it has been received, the author should send it, or copies of it, to the publisher, who will note, and comply with any special provisions contained in them. This rule does not normally apply to short quotations from academic textbooks or articles.
Austin, J.L. (1970a). Philosophical Papers. Oxford: Oxford University Press
Austin, J.L (1970b). Preformatted utterances. In Austin (1970a: 233-52)
Brazil, D., Coulthard, M. & Johns, C. (1980). Discourse Intonation and Language Teaching. London: Longman.
Cole, P. (ed.) (1978). Syntax and Semantics 9: Pragmatics. New York: Academic Press.
Comrie, B. (1975). Polite plurals and predicate agreement. Language, 51, 406-18.
Edmondson, W. (1979). A Model for the Analysis of Spoken Discourse. Unpublished PhD Dissertation, Ruhr-Universität, Bochum.
Frege, G. (1952). On sense and reference. In P.T. Geach and M. Black (eds.) Translations From the Philosophical Writings of Gottlob Frege. Oxford: Blackwell, 56-78. (Originally published 1892, as Über Sinn und Bedeutung. In Zeitschrift für Philosohie und philosophische Kritik, 100, 25-50.)
Hymes, D. (ed.) (1964). Language in Culture and Society. New York: Harper & Row.
Lakoff, R. (1973). The logic of politeness: or minding your p\'s and q\'s. Proceedings of The Tenth Regional Meeting of the Chicago Linguistic Society, 292-305.
1 feasible: capable of being done or carried out; practicable; possible; within reason; likely; probable; capable of being used or dealt with successfully; suitable
 affective: of, or arising from, affects, or feelings; emotional
 empirical (a) relying or based solely on experiment and observation rather than theory [the empirical method] (b) relying or based on practical experience without reference to scientific principles [an empirical remedy]