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The Curious Researcher


The Curious Researcher Cover


Out of Print

Synopses & Reviews

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


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

Table of Contents

Introduction: Rethinking the research paper

 Learning and unlearning

Using this book

 The exercises

 The five-week plan  

 Alternatives to the five-week plan

The research paper versus the research report

 Discovering your purpose

How formal should it be?

The question is you

 Thinking like an academic writer

A method of discovery

Firing on four cylinders of information

Facts don’t kill

Creative research papers?


Chapter 1: The First Week

The importance of getting curious

 Getting the pot boiling

 Other ways to find a topic

 What is a good topic?

 Where’s Waldo and the organizing power of questions

 Making the most of an assigned topic

Developing a working knowledge

 Case study on developing working knowledge: Theories of dog training

 Research strategies for developing working knowledge

  Using Zotero to manage your research

  The reference librarian: A living source

Narrowing the subject

 Circling the lighthouse

 From landscape shots to close-ups

 Crafting your opening inquiry question

Possible purposes for a research assignment

Reading for research

 Reading rhetorically

 Reading like an outsider


Chapter 2: The Second Week

Developing a research strategy

Google vs. the library 

A complementary research strategy 

Find enough information by using the best search terms

Index searches using the Library of Congress subject headings 

Keyword searching  in library databases

Keyword searches on the world wide web

 Find varied sources 

  Primary vs. secondary sources 

  Objective vs. subjective 

  Stable or unstable?

 Find quality sources

  When was it published?

  Why journal articles are better than magazine articles 

  Look for often-cited authors 

  Not all books are alike 

  Evaluating online sources

   A key to evaluating Internet sources

Developing focused knowledge 

 What about a thesis? 

  Suspending judgment?

  Testing assumptions?

  What are you arguing?

Searching library databases for books and articles

Keeping track of what you find: Developing a bibliography

 Finding Books

  Understanding call numbers*

  Coming up empty-handed?

  Checking bibliographies

   Interlibrary loan 

 Article databases

 Saving search results

Advanced Internet research techniques 

 Types of search engines 

Living sources: Interviews and surveys

 Arranging interviews 

  Finding experts

 Finding nonexperts affected by your topic

 Making contact

 Conducting interviews 

  Whom to interview

  What questions to ask

  During the interview


 The e-mail interview 

  Finding people on the Internet

  Making contact by e-mail

  The discussion board and listserv interview

Planning informal surveys

 Defining goals and audience

 Types of questions

 Survey design

  Avoid loaded questions

  Avoid vague questions

  Drawbacks of open-ended questions

  Designing your multiple choice questions

  Using continuum questions

 Conducting surveys

  Telephone surveys

  In person surveys

  The Internet survey

Fieldwork: Research on what you see and hear

 Preparing for fieldwork

 Notetaking strategies 

 Using what you see and hear


Chapter 3: The Third Week

Writing in the middle

 Becoming an activist notetaker

Plagiarism: What it is, why it matters, and how to avoid it 

 I read what you said and borrowed it, okay?

 Why plagiarism matters 

Making information your own: Quotation, paraphrase, and summary





    “What? I Failed” by Thomas Lord

 Notetaking techniques

 The double-entry journal

 The research log

 Narrative notetaking

 Online research notebooks

When you’re coming up short: More advanced searching techniques

 Advanced library searching techniques

 Advanced Internet search techniques

 Thinking outside the box: Alternative sources


Chapter 4: The Fourth Week

Getting to the draft  

 Exploration or argument?


Organizing the draft  

 Delayed thesis structure

 Question—claim structure 

 Exploring or arguing: An example

Preparing to write the draft

 Refining the question 

 Refining the thesis 

 Deciding whether to say I

  Getting personal without being personal

Starting to write the draft: Beginning at the beginning 

 Flashlights or floodlights? 

 Writing multiple leads

Writing for reader interest 

 Working the common ground

  Topics for which common ground is hard to find

 Putting people on the page

  Using case studies

  Using interviews

 Writing a strong ending

  Endings to avoid

 Using surprise 

Writing with sources

 Blending kinds of writing and sources

 Handling quotes

 Quick tips for controlling quotations

  Grafting quotes

  Sandwiching quotes

  Billboarding quotes

  Splicing quotes

  Handling interview material

  Trusting your memory

Citing sources

Driving through the first draft


Chapter 5: The Fifth Week

Revising is re-seeing (or breaking up is hard to do)    

Global revision: Revising for purpose, thesis, and structure 

 Writer- to reader-based prose

  Is it organized around a clear purpose?

  Does it establish significance?

  Does it say one thing?

  Using a reader 

Reviewing the structure

Using your thesis to revise

   Examining the wreckage

Other ways of reviewing the structure


Finding quick facts

Local revision: Revising for language

 Listening to voice

  Avoid sounding glib

 Tightening seams between what you say and what they say

  Verbal gestures

 Scrutinizing paragraphs

  Is each paragraph unified?

 Scrutinizing sentences

  Using active voice

  Using strong verbs

  Varying sentence length

  Editing for simplicity

  Avoiding stock phrases

Preparing the final manuscript

 Considering a “reader-friendly” design

 Using images

 Following MLA conventions

 Proofreading your paper 

  Proofreading on a computer

  Looking closely

  Ten common mistakes in research papers

  Using the “find” or “search” function

  Avoiding sexist language

Looking back and moving on

Appendix A: Guide to MLA Styles.

Appendix B: Guide to APA Style.

Appendix C: Understanding Research Assignments


Product Details

Ballenger, Bruce P
Ballenger, Bruce
Ballenger, Bruce P.
Composition & Creative Writing
Business Writing
Reference-Student Writing Guides
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Publication Date:
Miscellaneous printed material
9 x 6 x 0.6 in 404 gr

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