In his book Engaging Ideas: The Professor's Guide to Integrating Writing, Critical Thinking, and Creative Learning in the Classroom (Jossey-Bass, 1996), John Bean, director of Seattle University's writing program, offers the following tips for teaching students how to write research papers:
1. Emphasize the importance of research questions. Help students think of their research topics in terms of a question rather than a topic area. Instruct students to pose an interesting problem or question appropriate to the course that will require research as well as the application of analytical skills.
2. Require a prospectus well in advance of the paper. Doing this ensures students conduct some preliminary research, thereby preventing end-of-the-term rush jobs. Typically, a research prospectus asks students to address the following questions:
* What research problem or question do you intend to address?
* Why is this an interesting question? Why is it problematic? Why is it significant?
* How far along are you in your thinking and research? What do you expect to discover? Are you ready to formulate a thesis statement? If so, what is it?
* Attach a working bibliography of the sources you have used so far. Write short annotations for the material you have already read.
3. Teach the prototypical structure of introductions to academic papers. Emphasize that a prototypical academic introduction has three main parts. The first part, which is usually the longest, introduces readers to the problem the paper addresses and provides background on other research in this area. The second section explains the article's general focus and purpose. The third section gives the reader an overview of the whole article.
4. Teach your students how to read and write academic titles. Instruct students to write a brief but detailed title that provides a nutshell introduction to the paper. Point out some of the most common conventions for academic titles. Following are examples.
* A question. …