What are Research Papers?
Research papers are more than an assignment; they teach students how to construct an argument and influence others. The development of these real-world skills is the focus of this video. It teaches:
- Why research papers are really arguments that influence others
- Why effective arguments matter in the real world
- How to structure an argument with a claim, evidence and defensible points
- How the points in the video translate into the classroom
- Why influencing others with effective arguments is an important skill
At one time or another, most students are asked to write a research paper. Making your paper successful means understanding that writing a paper is more than just an assignment. It’s really a way to practice important skills that you’ll use in the real world.
Let’s start with the big picture. Whether you’re at school or work, your success depends on being able to argue points and influence others. A research paper is how you can practice this skill. You are writing an argument.
Imagine that you’re at work and your goal is to convince your manager you deserve a raise. How you present this argument matters. To get the result you want, you’ll need to support your argument with evidence and consider your manager’s perspective.
To start, you’ll want to search broadly and learn as much about your topic as you can. You could gather and analyze performance reviews, productivity stats and salary history to build your case for earning a raise. You can also look outside the company and include published reports and studies.
This evidence will help you develop your claim or thesis. This is a statement that frames what you expect and why it makes sense. It has two parts, the claim “I deserve a raise” and the evidence that supports it “based on my performance and these reports”. This sets the stage and shows your manager that you’re prepared.
But there’s more. To be successful, you must also anticipate your manager’s perspective and what questions or arguments she may have. Will she challenge any of your points? Will she compare your performance to others on the team? By anticipating her questions and concerns, you can have answers ready and make your case even stronger.
This method of developing an argument can be practiced by writing a research paper. You’ll look at evidence, make a claim based on that evidence and then be prepared to defend your points.
In English class, this may mean reading a passage from a book, like Moby Dick, and noticing evidence of symbolism. Using this information you can develop a claim with evidence about the author’s intentions that you can defend in an argument.
In history class, you may notice a wide variety of global events seem connected by a single theme during World War II. This evidence leads you to develop a claim or thesis that the events are indeed connected and prepare to answer questions that challenge your thesis.
By developing a strong argument, you may be able to influence others to see history or a work of literature from a different perspective.
Research papers take many forms, but at heart, they are all arguments designed to influence others. And earning influence can help you be more successful in the future.
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