Research Question

What is a Research Question? The Research Question is the question the author is exploring. Related Concepts: Organizational Schema Research Question A research question is a guiding question that an author uses to guide his or her research while gathering information for a project. Research questions typically appear in an annotated bibliography or other summary of a writer’s research. Generally, a research question does not have an easy Yes/No or other simple answer. Here is an example of a research question: How has video game usage changed how we communicate/socialize...

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Exposition

Exposition is a mode of discourse, a way of categorizing texts by purpose or aim. When writers or speakers engage in exposition, their purpose is to inform readers or listeners about a topic. Texts that are categorized chiefly as acts of exposition are also called Expository Writing. Key Terms: Expository Writing; Modes of Discourse; Styles of Writing Texts that are defined as exposition may be small bits such as a sentence or a paragraph. However, the term expository writing is more frequently used to describe a genre of discourse, such...

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Description

What is Description? Description is the use of prose—especially concrete, sensory language and figurative language—to describe events, people, ideas, concepts a dominant and powerful form of human expressionDescription plays a role in all genres. In fact, it's commonplace for writers to describe the context that informs their text, including a discussion of ongoing scholarly conversationsa way of categorizing discoursea dominant mode of discoursean attribute of reader-based discourse. Description in multimodal compositions uses visual language to supplement or replace alphabetic language. When appropriate in light of the exigency that discourse, writers,...

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Definition

Definition refers to a rhetor's efforts to define something. Definitions may be limited to a sentence or they may extend to whole paragraphs, passages, essays, or books. Definition is essential for communication to take place. Communities of Practitioners are able to understand one another because they share a common vocabulary, which is bounded by definitions. People are able to communicate because they define the world. People are symbol analysts: they share symbols. They use words, the signifier, to communicate information, the signified. We routinely define new concepts, terms, activities, research...

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Classification

Organize information into logical groups. As with describing, narrating, defining, and comparing, classifying is a component of all writing genres. Just as writers pause to describe ideas and events or define new concepts in most documents, they routinely classify information--that is, show or tell readers how information can be grouped into categories. Occasionally, an entire document focuses on explaining a taxonomy--that is, a scheme of classification. Why Classify Information? To make knowledge, we routinely categorize information. A biologist might refer to the periodic table. A musician might speak about country...

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How to Win Papers and Influence Professors: Creating Positive First Impressions through Effective Titles

By the time you finish reading this first sentence, you’ve already started forming a first impression about this article. In fact, you really started forming it after reading the title. With the words, “How to Win Papers and Influence Professors,” a spoof on the popular Dale Carnegie book, “How to Win Friends & Influence People,” I already began establishing a tone and setting up expectations for you, the reader. Whether you realized it or not, you had a reaction to that title. This shouldn’t come as a great shock. It’s...

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The Mysterious Incident of the Missing Title: Why Did Titular Concern Vanish from Composition Studies?

Titles How much time, if any, do first-year writing instructors spend in class discussing the importance of titles on their students’ papers? Without looking at a mountain of lesson plans or interviewing a plethora of instructors from across the country, it is impossible to know what is and what isn’t commonly taught in first-year composition courses. Admittedly, introductory writing and research classes can vary greatly from institution to institution and even from instructor to instructor within the same department. However, judging by an examination of current First-Year Composition textbooks, Rhet/Comp...

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Formulating a Thesis

You need a good thesis statement for your essay but are having trouble getting started. You may have heard that your thesis needs to be specific and arguable, but still wonder what this really means. Let’s look at some examples. Imagine you’re writing about John Hughes’s film Sixteen Candles (1984). You take a first pass at writing a thesis: Sixteen Candles is a romantic comedy about high school cliques. Is this a strong thesis statement? Not yet, but it’s a good start. You’ve focused on a topic--high school cliques--which is a smart move...

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How is this source relevant to your thesis and purpose?

Many emerging writers struggle with connecting sourced material to their claims and to their thesis. Oftentimes, this is because they’re too close to their work and think that the connection between claim and evidence is completely apparent to the reader. Even if the connection is readily visible, authors should still follow up a piece of sourced material with an explanation of its relevance to the author’s point, purpose, and/or thesis. Such connections (“analysis”) should be made directly following the sourced material. Let's look at an example: Let’s say that I’m...

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The Guiding Idea and Argumentative Thesis Statement

Two Types of Essays Your composition professor has given you an assignment, requiring you to write an essay in which you identify your favorite book and explain why you like it best. Later they assign an essay in which you take a stand either for or against homeschooling. Both assignments require you to write a paper, yet the essays called for are in two different genres. Thus, you will need to present your views in two different ways. Two Types of Main Point Although these genres are different, they are similar...

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