38 Notes on Research & Writing from Turabian

Below are 38 various and relatively random notes I took from Turabian. They are helpful guidelines for research and writing. The numbers in parenthesis are page numbers from Turabian, 9th edition.

  1. Plan everything (3).
  2. Begin with a question: I am working on X to find out Y so that others can understand Z (8).
  3. Write everyday (3).
  4. Break your project up into manageable parts (3)
  5. Show the relevance of your research question. Answer, “So what?” (6-7)
  6. Start broadly with your research. Encyclopedias, internet, etc. Then narrow down your topic and research question (13).
  7. What is the larger story of your research question? Where does it fit into the larger framework? (14)
  8. Develop a working hypothesis which serves as a tentative answer to your research question. (20)
  9. Create a storyboard for your project. This way you can visually clarify the relationships of all the various parts of your project. Provide a visual representation of the logic and flow of your arguments in answer to your question. (21)
  10. Prepare an “elevator story.” Short summary of your research project. Three parts: Research question, working hypothesis, and major supporting premises. (23)
  11. Ask questions. Consider and address possible objections to your hypothesis. (27).
  12. Acknowledge, address, and represent well other viewpoints.
  13. Skim books and articles. Summarize them in a few sentences. (31)
  14. Read book reviews of books you are referencing. Focus on strengths and weaknesses. What does this book add or contribute to your thesis? (33)
  15. Evaluate all potential sources for relevance and reliability. Is this work important to your research question? Is it reliable and trustworthy?
  16. Keep track of your bibliographic information. Use Zotero. (37)
  17. Read actively. Engage your sources. Read with pen in hand and notebook by your side. (38).
  18. Follow bibliographic trails. Find other valuable sources from the bibliographies of trusted sources. (31)
  19. Clearly demarcate what is your words, what is a direct quote, what is a paraphrase, and what is a summary. You can even use different colors or highlighters to demarcate. Develop a system and stick with it. (43)
  20. Why should you quote a source? And then how should you quote a source? Summarize? Paraphrase? Exact quote? (44)
  21. Engage with your sources by writing. The more you write the more you will understand. (46)
  22. Build your argument. Construct it logically. Make a claim. Offer reasons. Provide evidence. Then acknowledge disagreement and offer warrant (relevancy).
  23. Create a logical flow of your writing so that your readers may clearly trace your argument. (71).
  24. While drafting, keep key words in front of you. Make sure that a reader is able to trace the keywords in your thought. Differentiate key words for the entire project and key words for specific sections. Key words help tie your writing together. (77)
  25. Answer the personal questions: When to write? Where to write? How much to write? Create daily habits and goals for writing.
  26. First drafts are for ourselves. Don’t be afraid of the first draft. (102).
  27. Print out to edit. It’s easier to edit hard copies then staring at a computer screen. (102)
  28. Make sure the body of your project is coherent. (103)
  29. Are paragraphs relevant to the section or subsection they are in? If not do they belong somewhere else? If not, remove them. (105)
  30. Create distance. Allow the draft to “cool” before you pick it up again to edit. (105)
  31. Conclusions should describe questions raised by your research that you were not able to answer. This promotes an ongoing discussion. (111)
  32. Include key words in the title. It is the first thing anyone will read. (112)
  33. Have someone read your writing back to you. If they stumble take note where and figure out why. (121)
  34. Consider reading your project from the last sentence moving backward. This way you will not be distracted by the flow of argument – for the purpose of proof reading. (123)
  35. “If one thing is harder than starting to write, it’s stopping.” It doesn’t have to be perfect, but it does have to be done. (123)
  36. On receiving feedback: what went wrong? Look for a pattern of errors. (125)
  37. Did a reader misunderstand? Why?
  38. If you receive positive feedback learn from that as well, so you may build upon it and reproduce it.

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