After completing numerous research projects in your academic career, you may be wondering why previous instructors have asked you to research and consult secondary sources. The reason is that you cannot approach a topic in the academic world without understanding the current conversation surrounding that topic.
In the academic community, this conversation can be found in journal articles, books, and conference presentations on a specific topic. Those spaces enable scholars and experts in the field to have a conversation about a topic, a conversation where each member acknowledges and analyzes the previous comments, and adds a comment or contribution of their own. This is how discoveries are made—through the sharing of knowledge and ideas in published research.
WRIT 250 will ask you to join the academic conversation surrounding your chosen topic. In order for you to effectively join this conversation and maintain your ethos, you will need to consult current academic sources on this topic to familiarize yourself with the conversation. This will enable you to understand what has been said about this topic and provide you with the context needed to make your own contribution to this ongoing conversation in the academic community.
Applying Research Skills
A useful metaphor to help you understand the importance of being knowledgeable about a conversation before joining it would be a situation where you needed context to understand a specific scenario.
For example, pretend you are enjoying a relaxing afternoon in the Grove with friends when your friend Blanche makes a remark about your mutual friend Dorothy’s recent disagreement with her roommates, Rose and Sophia. Blanche wants to know your perspective about the conflict and about Dorothy’s method for handling the conflict. While you have some knowledge of Dorothy as a person, you are unaware of this recent disagreement; therefore, you will most likely ask Blanche for an explanation regarding this behavior because you do not feel qualified to comment on Dorothy’s actions without more context. For this reason, you will need Blanche to tell you the story to help provide you the context you need to understand Dorothy’s recent behavior.
Once you combine this story with what you already know about Dorothy, you will feel more comfortable and qualified to contribute to the conversation regarding her behavior in the roommate conflict. In the same way, while you may already have some knowledge about your chosen topic, you will need to locate more data and understand the current research and conversation around it in order to contribute to the discussion in a meaningful and productive way.