Teacher Response to Module #4 and Homework #5: The Difference between a Research Report and a Research Article

Grades on Blackboard

Reporting vs. getting published

You’ve all created successful pilot studies and written up some very interesting findings. Unfortunately, these findings will never see the light of day if you don’t work 2x as hard to make them intelligible to a particular venue. Researchers read research articles and listen to research presentations. They don’t go beating down the doors of other researchers, outside of journals and conferences or meetups.

So, you’ve got to go to where your audience is, and you’ve got to learn how to sound like them. It’s as simple as that.

No one has original ideas

As some of you noticed, my recent article in Technical Communication was a direct imitation of the piece “Composing Across Multiple Media” that I assigned for Module #3. This is so taboo in the humanities that I hesitate even to point this out on our course website. It is the norm in the social sciences though, where methods and methodologies are considered communal property.

Why did I imitate Ranker so closely? It was an effective research design that worked for my study. Rather than reinvent the wheel, I took someone else’s wheel, measured it against my data, and said: hey, that fits pretty good!

Where a lot of training in the humanities gets it wrong is that we try to convince you to be “original” thinkers. This is like researching and writing in a vacuum, though. You’re going to create an “original” thought? Meaning something that’s never been thought before by anyone in the history of mankind?

More importantly: research doesn’t work that way. Research is a conversation. If you’re not willing to imitate, to take others’ ideas and test them out, then you’re talking to yourself.


All this is to say: Try not to get upset when I respond to your drafts that are due on the 3rd

All this is building up to: I’m essentially going to give you a peer review of your drafts that you hand in to the website on the 4th. This means that I’ll be evaluating you based on the soundness of your research design and your write-up of that research design.

This will not be pretty. My goal will be to treat you as editors will treat you when you try to publish your first research article or present at your first major conference (WHICH ALL OF YOU ARE GOING TO DO, RIGHT?!). That is to say: I’ll be trying to find holes in your argument, gaps in your literature review, flaws in the way you’re describing your methodology, etc.

This is all part of doing research. Accepting peer critique and trying to improve your writing on your research is a necessary part of the process of becoming a researcher.

That being said: I will also include a “what I expect by the 11th” list, because you won’t be able to respond to all my feedback in just one week. The last time I got a revise and resubmit, it took me about a month to respond to all the changes, and being a researcher is essentially my full-time job.

Even though research is hard, writing about research is at least 2x as hard, in my personal experience. I’ve also been a serious researcher for about 10 years now, and I’m just now starting to get the hang of it. I don’t know if you ever completely get the hang of it though, honestly; you just learn how to roll with the punches better.

So, roll with the punches I send your way on the fourth and try to learn from my feedback. You all have done research that is way too good for it to never see the light of day!

Leave a Reply