1. When you are assigned a research paper in a course, do you welcome it as an opportunity to learn, or do you see it as a burden or unwelcome task?
I haven't really changed in my view of an assigned research paper. I still like doing the research itself, but the stress of a grade is still there but maybe a little less. APA is still a bit intimidating but I have definitely improved in that area this semester.
2. How confident are you in your ability to use supporting material (quotations, examples, research) effectively to strengthen your ideas in a paper?
There is always room for improvement, and since I haven't really gotten feedback on my final literature reviews I am not really sure about my perspective versus my professors prospective on this point. I'm sure I would answer it differently in a couple of weeks once I have my big papers grades. Still overall I feel moderately confident. I have improved in the summarizing instead of quoting this semester.
3. How confident are you in your ability to paraphrase an idea for use in a research paper?
This area is one I can honestly say I have really improved this semester. The activity of doing the annotated bibliography with no quotations and getting positive feedback on the assignment has increased my confidence in this area. As stated above though, there is always room for improvement in my book.
4. How much formal training have you had regarding plagiarism and how to avoid it?
Before this class my training was all at school/work from our media services department. Through this class we have had numerous videos and reading about plagiarism and a little in some of my other classes. I do feel more confident in this area but the self-plagiarism still is a bit cloudy to me. I understand that a single paper can't be used in another class, but do I quote myself if I use part of one of my previous class papers? Some have told me yes and others have told me no.
5. In writing a research paper, how easy have you found it to incorporate sources that conflict with your central argument or idea?
This is still a challenge for me, mainly because of finding the actual articles. I just haven't found them very frequently and therefore it looks like I don't want to tell both sides of the story, which is not the case. I need to work on the research side of this more than just stating it in the papers.
6. How confident are you that you know the rules for using sources well enough to avoid unintentional plagiarism?
Neutral to moderately confident
I have improved in this area as well. If I think I read the thought in an article, I go back and look for it and then cite it, even if I was putting it in my words and thought it was my own conclusion. Some of the information in my research seems a bit common sense about motivation and gamification so this has been a challenge at times to make sure I cite conclusions that were found in other studies even if they seem common sense.
I have gone back to the readings in Harris (2014) as I have been writing my literature reviews. There are some great points about using a variety of sources, something I definitely need to work on. When I was reviewing a friends paper for another class, she had all sorts of citations from symposiums etc, but I was very overwhelmed with the APA format of some of it, as was she. I feel pretty confident in correct format for journal articles and chapters in edited books but am a little scared to venture to areas where I can't find the format in the manual. I know symposiums are there, but there were lots she had I couldn't even tell what kind of source it was to know how to look it up. I'm sure over the summer as I really dive deeper into my actual literature review for my dissertation I will expand my scope of sources and hopefully can systematically approach the APA style for each.
Harris, R. A. (2014). Using sources effectively: Strengthening your writing and avoiding plagiarism (4th ed.). Glendale, CA: Pyrczak.
Adherence to the writing process for editing and redrafting
I have definitely written, edited and revised numerous times on this paper. I have rearranged paragraphs, and even added a study or two from the original version. Stepping away from it for a few days really helped see it with fresh eyes.
Importance or significance of the topic
Gamification is a popular topic in education, particularly its role in student motivation and engagement. Although there is a good bit of literature on gamifcation and even student motivation in gamification, much of it has to do with digital-based gamification. I am interested in a hybrid form as well as how gamification contributes to the acquisition of the 4Cs of learning, (a) collaboration, (b) communication, (c) creativity and (d) critical thinking.
Organization and other global considerations
The length of the paper is definitely within the parameters of the assignment and has all of the required sections, including a reference list. The number of references has been met as well.
Effectiveness of the introduction
For this paper, I feel pretty good about the introduction. I can't say the same for one of my others though, even though the topic is very similar. Sometimes the words just flow and the hook is there or the quote etc. that just brings the reader in and states what is going to be covered in the paper. Sometimes getting those thoughts and words on the paper to begin the review is like pulling teeth!
Currency and relevance of the literature cited
I didn't review any "classic" studies in the literature review. I read a lot about early gamification, but honestly didn't find anything at the time of writing that I found foundational. Most of the studies were very recent studies or were studies that examined a particular niche. I'm not so sure how well I did on explaining the strengths and weaknesses. I may have to review that yet again in the next day.
Thoroughness and accuracy of the literature reviewed
I reviewed numerous articles, many that were not even included in the literature review. As I reviewed, some author's names kept reappearing or were quoted in other studies, These triggered to me the importance of those authors as they are active in the field. I also tried to examine the study well to make sure the researchers took precautions for mitigating possible issues in their study.
Coherence and flow of the path of the argument
I struggled with this at first. This was a big part of my revision, making sure that the topics flowed well from one to the other. I don't know that it is perfect, but it is definitely better than the first draft.
Effectiveness of the Conclusion
This is one area I have gone over multiple times and don't know that I am ever fully satisfied with it. I met with someone recently to get help on my prospectus for my dissertation and she said, "Tell them what you are going to tell them, then tell the the information, then remind them of what you told them." I'm now trying to make sure I have done that well.
Accuracy of citations and the reference list
I have spent a good amount of time checking APA back and forth in the manual for the smallest details about the reference list. I really hope it is right, but I just never feel 100% sure about APA.
Mechanics and overall accuracy of the manuscript
I have checked and rechecked for typos, grammatical errors, spacing and format. I run spell check as I am writing and also use the grammarly plugin to review my work as well. For the formatting, I set up a template for all assignments according to the FCE guidelines and use that same template each time so I don't have to worry about whether or not the margins are correct each time etc. Hopefully nothing has been changed accidentally.
Appropriateness of style and language usage
I got some good feedback for this from my reviewers. Not my class reviewer actually, but I had multiple other people review my paper and one really commented about some parts that were confusing due to the way I had it worded. I concentrated on those area a little extra during the revisions.
This is one of the areas that I find to be hard, yet there is no excuse for not getting it right. I can read my paper many times, and it seems each time I will find one silly little grammatical mistake. It may be a subject verb agreement, or then instead of than etc. Grammarly plugin is wonderful for the main grammatical issues. I love that it even wants to correct the titles in the reference list.
Additional editing steps for non-native English speakers and students with serious writing difficulties
Fortunately this doesn't really apply to me, but I have had the opportunity to help some colleagues that have English as their second language. I try to help point out some of these issues that are easy traps for them.
1. Ask two friends to read the draft of your literature review and comment on the content. Compare their comments. • On which points did your friends agree? • On which points did they disagree? Which of the two opinions will you follow? Why? • Consider the places in your review that your friends found hard to follow. Rewrite these passages, keeping in mind that you want your friends to understand your points.
Both reviewers found a couple of grammatical mistakes and the one main comment they both made was that my transitions between my sections were weak. One of the reviewers also said I needed to explain more information about the Health Survey.
Of course for the grammatical mistakes I will make those changes. I should not have missed them on my own to begin with. I felt the transitions were weak as well so I will try to work on those. Maybe having been away from it for a few days I can see the sections with new eyes and make better transitions to keep the flow. The other suggestion was about the Health survey, although I understand it, Galvan suggests that the reader is always right so I will follow that sentiment. I understand it, but if the reader doesn't that is what matters. I will add a little explanation about who takes the survey.
2. Write five questions designed to guide your instructor or your friends in giving you feedback on the content of your review. • Reread your review draft, and respond to your own questions by pretending you are your instructor. • Revise your draft according to your own feedback. • Reconsider the five questions you wrote for your instructor or your friends. Which questions would you leave on your list? What questions would you add?
The questions I would write are as follows:
Through this process of reviewing peers' papers as well as reviewing my own in light of the suggestions received by others, I have gained a much greater understanding of the importance of good writing for communication. The content may tell of the various articles in the literature, but if they can't flow from one to the other in the main topic areas and tie them together for the main idea, then they are basically useless in the paper. Transitions are super important to keep the reader engaged and at a good level of understanding.
Author: Keri Duncan
This is a blog created as a requirement for my dissertation. In different classes, there have been different requirements but hopefully it will provide good thought and discussion as I progress through the dissertation process.