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Writing Research Papers

Writing Research Papers

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    No matter where you are in your intellectual journey, the ability to assemble and analyze large amounts of complex information is a skill that can pay large dividends both in monetary terms and in terms of your overall satisfaction with life.  What follows is a very short guide and template for writing excellent research papers.

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    Re-Evaluating Road-Crossing: The Chicken Was Pushed

    A Short Guide to Writing a Research Paper

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    Abstract

    The Abstract is usually 100-150 words long.  The abstract tells the reader what you have done and why it is important.  Your abstract tells the reader what you do, how you do it, and what it implies. Here, you’re saying the chicken was pushed, that you demonstrate this statistically or anecdotally, and that it implies we have to re-evaluate our understanding of chicken road-crossings.

    I. Introduction

    The introduction sets the stage for your analysis. You tell the audience what you are doing and why it is important.  An introduction here would say that previous generations of scholars believed that the chicken crossed the road to get to the other side.  Your paper shows that the chicken was pushed.  In the introduction, you give a brief outline of the argument and the evidence used to support it.  As much fun as it is to write long, twisting narratives filled with subtlety and nuance, it is important to remember that a research paper on a technical topic is not a mystery novel.  Your readers are not reading for leisure.  They are reading because they think your ideas are worth considering and factoring into their own research and decisions.

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    II. Literature Review

    The literature review places your research in context.  You aren’t the first person to ask why the chicken crossed the road.  What questions do previous researchers ask?  What questions remain unanswered?  How does your idea fit? In this case, previous scholars have also argued that the turtle crossed the road “to get to the Shell station.”  Is this relevant for your research?  Why or why not?  As tempting as it is, don’t include too much in the literature review.  The literature review is a place to highlight relevant contributions that address the question you are asking and to show how your contribution either fills gaps in our knowledge by answering questions we haven’t answered yet or creates gaps in our knowledge by showing that something we thought we knew is false.  What does the reader take from the literature review?  Is it a sense of the important questions that others have asked and how your research helps answer them?  Or does the reader just come away with the knowledge that you’ve read a lot of stuff?  Revise the latter until it becomes the former.

    III. Theory

    Your theory lays out the logical reasons for why we might believe your hypothesis to be true. It also explains why other hypotheses are unlikely to be true.  Road-crossing is dangerous, and people have never explained what was on the other side that would have made it more attractive to the chicken.  We can’t rule out the hypothesis that the chicken was pushed, and there are a lot of plausible conditions under which this might be the best explanation.

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    IV. Evidence

    Here you report and explain the evidence you will use to verify that the chicken was pushed.  Evidence can be statistical, anecdotal, narrative, or descriptive.  Remember that not all good evidence is statistical, and not all statistical evidence is good. Perhaps you can show that chicken road-crossings are correlated with something, or maybe you find the chicken’s personal papers in which he, in a diary and a series of letters, accuses the cow of pushing him into the road.

    V. Conclusion

    The conclusion summarizes your results and lays out very carefully exactly what needs to be done next. It is likely that your conclusion will be tentative.  However, a well-written conclusion will elucidate the next steps that need to be taken before we can be absolutely certain as to whether the chicken crossed the road of his own volition or whether he was pushed.

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    Art Carden

    Art Carden is an Assistant Professor of Economics and Business at Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee.

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    Last Updated on January 21, 2020

    How to Motivate People Around You and Inspire Them

    How to Motivate People Around You and Inspire Them

    If I was a super hero I’d want my super power to be the ability to motivate everyone around me. Think of how many problems you could solve just by being able to motivate people towards their goals. You wouldn’t be frustrated by lazy co-workers. You wouldn’t be mad at your partner for wasting the weekend in front of the TV. Also, the more people around you are motivated toward their dreams, the more you can capitalize off their successes.

    Being able to motivate people is key to your success at work, at home, and in the future because no one can achieve anything alone. We all need the help of others.

    So, how to motivate people? Here are 7 ways to motivate others even you can do.

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    1. Listen

    Most people start out trying to motivate someone by giving them a lengthy speech, but this rarely works because motivation has to start inside others. The best way to motivate others is to start by listening to what they want to do. Find out what the person’s goals and dreams are. If it’s something you want to encourage, then continue through these steps.

    2. Ask Open-Ended Questions

    Open-ended questions are the best way to figure out what someone’s dreams are. If you can’t think of anything to ask, start with, “What have you always wanted to do?”

    “Why do you want to do that?”

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    “What makes you so excited about it?”

    “How long has that been your dream?”

    You need this information the help you with the following steps.

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    3. Encourage

    This is the most important step, because starting a dream is scary. People are so scared they will fail or look stupid, many never try to reach their goals, so this is where you come in. You must encourage them. Say things like, “I think you will be great at that.” Better yet, say, “I think your skills in X will help you succeed.” For example if you have a friend who wants to own a pet store, say, “You are so great with animals, I think you will be excellent at running a pet store.”

    4. Ask About What the First Step Will Be

    After you’ve encouraged them, find how they will start. If they don’t know, you can make suggestions, but it’s better to let the person figure out the first step themselves so they can be committed to the process.

    5. Dream

    This is the most fun step, because you can dream about success. Say things like, “Wouldn’t it be cool if your business took off, and you didn’t have to work at that job you hate?” By allowing others to dream, you solidify the motivation in place and connect their dreams to a future reality.

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    6. Ask How You Can Help

    Most of the time, others won’t need anything from you, but it’s always good to offer. Just letting the person know you’re there will help motivate them to start. And, who knows, maybe your skills can help.

    7. Follow Up

    Periodically, over the course of the next year, ask them how their goal is going. This way you can find out what progress has been made. You may need to do the seven steps again, or they may need motivation in another area of their life.

    Final Thoughts

    By following these seven steps, you’ll be able to encourage the people around you to achieve their dreams and goals. In return, you’ll be more passionate about getting to your goals, you’ll be surrounded by successful people, and others will want to help you reach your dreams …

    Oh, and you’ll become a motivational super hero. Time to get a cape!

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    Featured photo credit: Thought Catalog via unsplash.com

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