Next: Review of the
Up: Helpful Hints for
Writing Research Papers
- Statement of Purpose. At the outset (``The
Beginning") state the goals you wish to accomplish in your
paper (``My goal is to describe how the language policy in Pakistan
under British colonialism ...").
- Methodology. Then state the method(s) by which you hope to
``I shall demonstrate that this policy evolved from an
indigenous paleophilic tradition to a European centrist model beginning in
1880's and continuing until 1947 ..."
or ``I shall
compare indigenous life stories of Bengali speakers who had to deal with
the confrontation of British colonialism, superimposed on their own
culture. In these interviews, speakers reveal ... "
- In the Middle or Body of your paper, build your case.
Review the literature (see sample below) on the subject; do not reinvent
the wheel. Show that you are familiar with what others have said about this
situation. (This is a form of academic courtesy, and helps establish your
credibility. If you do not do this, people may think you are talking off the
top of your head, or have no respect for the work of other scholars, and may
lose interest in your project, and stop reading.) Describe, analyze, and
evaluate the previous work, and give those authors credit by citing
their work (see below for format). Then show how previous work could be
improved, or how others admit the existence of a problem but have not solved
it, or whatever it is you wish to show. If you find you are deadlocked, and
don't know what to say that is new, try asking yourself the following
- What have we discussed in this course about the sociolinguistics
of South Asia that may be
a different way of looking at this material?
- Do some researchers tend to put all their eggs in one basket,
attributing everything to one factor such as neo-Marxist economics,
colonialism, post-modernism, or whatever?
- Are there some aspects of the linguistic culture of [my topic] that may
be in conflict with some other cultural practice of the polity I am
(Are there religious, historical, mythic, or other attitudinal factors that
have not been examined here?)
- Is there diglossia (Ferguson 1959) operating in this situation?
- Is there some religious framework (e.g. Islam, Buddhism, Christianity)
that influences the linguistic culture and strongly influences the
way language is used in S. Asia?
- Is there some political philosophy (e.g. Marxism) that has interacted
with the linguistic culture in the subcontinent? How has Gandhi's
philosophy affected education since independence?
- When you have said all you would like to say, summarize what you
have done. One paragraph may be sufficient. You do not have to show that you
have done something revolutionary or earth-shaking; merely reviewing the
literature on the subject may be the most useful thing you could do, if you
do it systematically and present your review clearly.
- If you have more than one point to make, summarize and wrap up the
first before going on to the next. Try to stand back from your writing and
see that the ideas flow smoothly, and that when there is a transition, that it
is evident that you are shifting gears. Tell us that you are now going
to shift gears, or now going to contrast and compare, etc.
- Remember that the focus of this course is on the sociolinguistic
language use, and that we assume that there is no such thing as
no autonomous grammar: that is, we always assume that there
sociolinguistic factors that influence grammatical usage and thus
there will always be variability.
- Final rules of thumb:
- Do not reinvent the wheel.
- Build on the work of others, and give credit where credit is due.
- Ask for help, even if you don't think you need it.
- Show your work to someone else to read; check for clarity, transitions,
whether you are making your points.
- Try to think of who your audience is, and write to that audience.
- If you are better at oral presentations than written, tape-record what
you have to say and then transcribe it onto paper.
- Give credit by citations and attributions to ideas that are not
yours. I prefer the form ``As Smith points out (Smith 1991:354)", with Smith
1991 spelled out in full in the bibliography.
Next: Review of the
Up: Helpful Hints for Writing
Previous: Writing Research
Wed Mar 20 14:28:15 EST 1996