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ERIC Number: ED347532
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1992-Mar
Pages: 25
Abstractor: N/A
Reference Count: N/A
Rethinking the Research Paper.
Ballenger, Bruce
With rare exceptions, the assignment of a research paper elicits groans from students and sighs from their teachers, or worse. While the research paper became a fixture in composition textbooks and classrooms by the 1940s, its origins can be traced to fundamental changes in the American academy after the Civil War. The language of the term paper was expected to be objective, reflecting the then popular assumption that writing was a neutral and transparent mechanism for transmitting discovered knowledge. One consequence of the historical emphasis on originality in research papers is the privileging of form over content. Another implication of the historical development of the research paper is that English departments are "stuck" with teaching it for every other academic department. Composition teachers can teach certain research skills which do not differ much among the disciplines, and they can teach students that research can be undertaken with passion and objectivity. Personal writing dominates the composition classroom, and a research paper that uses personal experiences and observation will find a natural place in such a course. Instead of just writing for the teacher, students' notion of audience expands to include each other. Instructors in this approach are not authorities on the topics, but apprentices to the researcher. If the instructor is successful, students will leave the freshman composition course knowing that their own curiosity can and should drive their investigations on any topic, and that good research does not have to mean bad writing. (Twenty-one references are attached.) (RS)
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Writing Contexts
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Conference on College Composition and Communication (43rd, Cincinnati, OH, March 19-21, 1992).