Some tips on writing papers (prepared and presented by Robert F. Williams):
- Constructing an argument: Whenever you make a general statement (a claim), you should illustrate it with specific examples (evidence), then explain the link between the two. For example, you might present a cultural model followed by excerpts from an interview with certain phrases highlighted and then explain how the highlighted phrases provide evidence for the model. A scientific argument is a chain of claims and evidence.
- Structuring your paper: While essays are divided into paragraphs, scientific papers are also divided into sections. Use headings for each section to make the structure of your paper clear. You can use basic headings (Introduction, Description, Analysis, Conclusion), but topical headings (Loading the Dishwasher, The Material Context of Fueling the Car, The Disease Model, The Family Model, Relations Between the Models, etc.) are more informative.
- Connecting to the readings: Good times to connect to the readings are when defining terms or concepts (like "cognitive model" or "intersubjectivity"), when uncovering a commonality with someone else's work (e.g. the Folk Model of the Mind appears in your data), or when using methods employed by someone else (e.g. Goodwin's transcription scheme). These things often come up in the introduction and analysis sections of a paper.
- Using references: Anytime you make a connection to the readings, you should give a citation including the author's name and year of the publication. For example, you might write 'This relates to the Folk Model of the Mind (D'Andrade 1994).' When quoting, also add the page number: 'A cultural model is "a cognitive schema that is intersubjectively shared" (D'Andrade 1994, p. 36).' Then include a list of "References" or "Works Cited" at the end of your paper. Copy the format from one of the articles in the reader.
- Editing and proofreading: If possible, have someone else read your paper and
give you feedback on what's confusing, what needs more evidence, what seems
unrelated, etc. Then edit your paper (add, delete, or change text). Finally,
proofread your paper (check for mistakes in punctuation, spelling, word choice,
etc.) or have someone proofread it for you.
- Using diagrams: If you include a diagram, be sure to refer to your diagram explicitly so the reader knows it's there. You do this by naming your diagram (Figure 1) and referring to it in the body of your paper. For example, you could say, "The Family Model is shown in Figure 1" or just say "The Family Model (Figure 1) shows that … ". Also, always explain your diagrams--never assume that they can stand alone or are self-explanatory.