Composing Research, Communicating Results Writing the Communication Paper
In my years teaching composition and communication classes, I’ve come to realize that writing and communication have several things in common. The first is that, because we often do both on a daily basis – writing e‐mails, texting, talking to others – we generally assume we know how to do them. This isn’t always the case. Unfortunately, because we engage in written and oral communication so often, we tend to become mindless about them. We might develop bad habits, or we might think that just because we communicate one way with some people, that particular way of communicating is appropriate and effective for other people as well. The second thing I realized is that we tend to think good writers, like good public speakers, are simply born that way.
I developed this book to respond to these two myths. First, I hope to make readers of this book more mindful about their writing choices and understand that different audiences sometimes require different styles of writing. Second,’I hope to provide readers with the knowledge and skills to make these mindful choices. I believe good writers, like good public speakers, are made that way with proper instruction and, of course, a lot of practice.
This book draws on my years of teaching college composition and working in college writing centers, and teaching communication classes in which writing assignments constitute a major part of the class. I present lessons I’ve learned as a teacher and writer, as well as sage advice from others who are smarter (and better writers) than me. I also offer samples of writing assignments from my own students to help illustrate the concepts in each chapter.
●● Chapter 1 introduces the book, discusses some of the major challenges of writing class papers, offers and then debunks some myths about writing, and presents a “Tao” of writing that encompasses topic, audience, and occasion. It also presents some guidelines for other types of writing you may do beyond class assignments.
●● Chapter 2 presents some tried‐and‐true brainstorming techniques, a more indepth consideration of audience, and a discussion of the types of questions that might be posed in class papers and how those questions can help formulate a plan for conducting library and database research.
●● Chapter 3 discusses the role of argument in writing class papers, provides an in‐depth consideration of the Toulmin Method of constructing arguments, and reviews some of the more common citation styles for class papers.
●● Chapter 4 revists the concept of audience in a consideration of first‐, second‐, and third‐person voice, as well as active and passive voice. It also discusses the “flow” of a paper and how to ensure smooth writing and eliminate “filler” from papers using my own TESLA Method of paragraph construction. The chapter concludes with a discussion of style and some common grammar mistakes.
●● Chapters 5, 6, and 7 provide overviews of some more common paper assignments in social science and communication classes: the literature review, application and reaction paper, and empirical research paper, respectively.
●● Chapter 8 offers a “dos and don’ts” list for presenting the finished paper in public speaking settings, including a discussion of submitting papers to local, regional, national, and international conferences and journals. Each chapter has several features to help readers better understand and utilize the concepts discussed. The “Write Away” feature offers easy‐to‐follow exercises to immediately put into practice the tips, guidelines, and advice presented. “Building Blocks” are meant to break up the writing of the paper into short tasks that, if done thoughtfully, will help to produce a well‐written final paper. “Engaging Ethics” sections provide a consideration of some ethical dangers associated with a particular aspect of writing – from citing sources to submitting to conferences – and how to avoid them. The “Student Spotlight” boxes present writing samples from real students to illustrate certain ideas, concepts, methods, and techniques.
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