A free, comprehensive, peer-reviewed, award-winning Open Text for students and faculty in college-level courses that require writing and research.

Joe Moxley, Founder, WritingCommons.org

Joe Moxley


Dear Colleagues and Students,

At Writing Commons, we are happy with the overall success of our project. Since 2011, when we launched at WritingCommons.org, we have hosted 6,315,882 users who have reviewed over 11 million pages. We are thrilled that students and faculty find our site to be helpful. Our ongoing mission is to be the best writing textbook possible. We also happen to be free. While we cannot perhaps claim yet that we are the best possible textbook for technical writing or creative writing courses, we are working on that.

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Research Primer

Review the Research Primer to learn more about the ways that various academic disciplines conduct research. While important differences exist between academic disciplines regarding what constitutes a valid research methodology, broadly speaking, we can define two dominant forms of research: Textual Research and Empirical Research. As discussed below, textual research is based on dialogues and interpretations of texts whereas empirical research is based on formal observation. Interestingly, these two methods grow out of two distinct intellectual traditions: writing and authorship conducted by humanists and scientific study conducted by scientists and social scientists.

Textual Research

Research is defined by many academic disciplines, such as English or History, as primarily a textual process. In other words, some researchers—a group that is commonly called "scholars"—focus on texts (that is, on responding to them, critiquing them, or in rereading them with a particular theory in mind, such as Capitalism, Marxism, Psychoanalysis, Behaviorism, Deconstruction, Modernism, Postmodernism). Additionally,scholars can develop their work in response to everyday experiences, issues in popular culture, the media, and the Internet. Beyond debate and logic, scholars lack a way to prove one idea or approach is superior to any other.

Empirical Research

College students are often surprised by how much they enjoy conducting field research. Field research provides writers with the satisfaction of knowing that they are doing original work. Clearly, clever minds can develop innovative ideas based on printed and Internet sources. Yet interviewing others, developing questionnaires, or making first-hand observations can feel more dynamic, more original. Many students find that they enjoy developing methods to answer research questions on topics of interest.

Integrate Evidence

Once writers have conducted their textual or empirical research, they must incorporate their findings into their papers. Such findings serve as evidence, which supports the writer's claims. This section explores the means by which writers may integrate evidence into their essays.

Cassandra Branham, Editor-in-Chief WritingCommons.org

Cassandra Branham


Dear Colleagues and Students,

Welcome to Writing Commons, an open-education resource for instructors and students of writing across the disciplines. Our mission is to provide a high-quality, cost free resource to support students in the development of writing, research, and critical thinking practices.

This summer, we have been working on a site redesign in an effort to increase the usability of our site for both instructors and students. Our most significant change has been the inclusion of additional categories and subcategories to create a more intuitive hierarchy within the site.

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