Your assignment is essentially the same as for last week, as re-posted below, with the additional advice that you remember the discussion we had over Mathieu’s work, where we asked “Who Cares?”
We made a case study on the question of “who cares” by looking for “current strategies in the chemical industry for managing hazardous goods” as this would concern one or another stakeholders, and to do that we each came up with someone who really, really cares about “hazardous goods,” meaning, people who are furious about chemical poisoning of one kind or another.
- If you can imagine such people, you can imagine an audience
- Otherwise, it is not clear who you are writing for: you really, really, really want to find an audience
Craft 3: What is a Research Question?
Please read Chapter 3 of Craft to help you understand what we mean by a research question or research problem:
- Without a problem, you will jump everywhere collecting facts and end up exhausted and with mere description
- “You’ll find a reason when you can ask a question whose answer solves a problem that you can convince readers to care about”
- Why should a reader be interested in your paper? Go ask the readers what they care about!
- Addressing their question will give you focus, save you from collecting irrelevant data
- Who cares about hazardous goods in the chemical industry?
- List actors, stakeholders: what are they screaming and yelling about?
Please note that as you go along your idea of your audience will likely change, and that is good: you want to narrow your problem down to something that truly motives you and that is of special interest to relevant professionals: they are your audience. As you do that, you will then be able to determine the concepts and case studies, because that’s what they talk about: in sum, you are not looking for a simple research question, but a research community, people — the people you want to talk to and want to hire you.
As we discussed today, your assignment is … to do each of these things and in your homework report on your findings and in sections numbered as below:
1. Find a high-level survey of your topic
- Search “current issues YourTopic 2017 pwc/deloitte…”
- Look for surveys that identify the current issues — the high-level discussions of concepts that will become your research question’s 3rd part
- You are looking for an overview, likely in diagrams or sub-heads looking like this
- You may well have to step back and ask how your particular topic is part of something larger, for example, customer-to-customer car sales are part of a larger set of exchanges on eBay, and where you are looking for larger economic or social forces common to all and where your company or case study is part of a much larger puzzle
2. Demonstrate close reading: Identify a discussion that goes to the heart of your problem and write it up carefully
- Somewhere in your Big 4 report you will find a discussion of your problem that goes to the heart of it and where they talk “insider baseball,” or, “the way we talk around here,” for example here, and where you see that I’ve highlighted the many vocabulary words in a specific context that make sense in this context: you not simply look up what the term means, but write up how it fits into this context
- Write up one particular paragraph in detail to develop your reading skills: maybe think of it this way: in your BA thesis, where you are surveying 3+ positions or moments, you have three of these citations and close readings where you deeply explore what is going on
3. Revise your research question with a proper 3rd, conceptual part
Look at this third part and make sure it has concepts, and since this is very difficult and will take weeks for many of you, you might review the discussion of this third conceptual part in The Craft of Research chapters 3+4: bite the bullet and do it!
4. Use report structures and action verbs
When we report on what others are saying, we distinguish between what others say and what we might feel about it, and for that we need Reporting Verbs, like “he claims…”. When we interpret and analyze what others are saying, we need Action Verbs like “compare” and contrast. Otherwise, you’ll likely remain stuck in the la-la land of description and “piggy-backing”, as you will reading in the Eight Strategies for Using Sources: learn how to compare and contrast two or more issues, approaches, or sources using reporting verbs and where you “draw battle lines”. On our Dropbox you will find the following: take the time to apply at least one action verb, one reporting verb, and make one argument from Eight Strategies following the “draw battle lines” strategy
- Action Verbs, after Bloom
- Reporting Verbs, Adelaide
- Eight Strategies for Using Sources