This workshop was approximately 90 minutes and had an audience of about 40 students. 12 are McNair students currently research writing whereas the other 30 are about to do research for the first time. I had never given a talk in 112 Kern, but its a fabulous venue! Lots of space to walk around and engage without being stuck behind a podium clicking a mouse. I gave an overview of the presentation, breaking it into the following parts:
I. Purpose of Research
2. Developing Inquiry Appropriate for Research
– Here I asked students to take a few minutes and try to write a research problem/issue.
3. Planning Research (Pre-Writing Strategies)
4. Navigating Resources: Search Tips
5. Components of Research: Intro, Lit Review, Methodology, Findings/Discussion, Limitations, and Conclusion
6. Structural Concerns: Organization, Word Choice, and Syntax
7. Revision Vs. Editing
After each “section,” I asked students for questions. Most of their concerns were about audience and word choice. One student in particular, discussed the problems with some science writers who may exaggerate scientists’ findings. He wanted to know how to deal with the problem of making work accessible, as in both open-access and in “clear speech,” but also recognizing that research isn’t written for the “general public,” but a community of insiders. I’m having much difficulty reconciling the “audience” problem, as well. In this Age of Emergence, should researchers compose in such a way that outsiders are given access to insiders’ assumptions about how some aspect of reality functions? Who’s the expert and how can they convincingly perform such an identity? Who’s the audience again? If the work is accessible to all does it necessarily need to be written for all?
In other words, should research writing include both the need to account for the design of a project and the result of its implementation, as well as teach the audience something about the implications of that process?
I am certain that I did not give this student the “clear” answer he desired, but I did remind him that on a sheer grammatical level, even scientists are concerned with the problem of conciseness and precision. Simple sentence structure can be the most impactful…I urged him to always consider: Who’s Doing What? Although we may not want to sacrifice certain jargon for the sake of maintaining an ongoing conversations’ flavor, we most certainly should aim to make our writing as specific as possible. By specific, I mean ANIMATED. I want to see academic communication verbed up not nouned down.