The book is called Writing the Research Paper: Multicultural Perspectives for Writing in English as a Second Language. In writing the book, our hope is that we can contribute (in some small way) to awareness, to discussion, and to answers. After-all, a research paper raises awareness, it promotes discussion, and it proposes answers. As such, in crafting a well written research paper, students will not merely be fulfilling a course requirement, they will be contributing to awareness, bringing forth discussion, and proposing answers. By doing so, student-writers themselves, will be making a step (however small) towards the kind of world that we all aspire to.
The title of the book includes the phrase “multi-cultural perspectives.” We did not include the phrase multi-cultural perspectives in order to imply that the book presents a myriad of the world’s individual views – it does not. Instead, the book’s title includes the phrase “multi-cultural perspectives” because multi-cultural perspectives inspired the book and even greater multi-cultural perspective is the goal of the book.
The authors of the book have worked all over the world, and taught students from each and every one of its corners. During all that time, there has hardly been a day when our classrooms weren’t filled with diversity. Our good fortune in witnessing this diversity stems from the fact that we have been lucky enough to spend almost all of our professional lives working in the field of ESL (English as a Second Language), which also gets a mention in the title of the book. Most of the readers of the book will be familiar with the term ESL because English is a second language to most of the readers of the book. However, our goal in the book is not to promote ESL further; rather, it is to recognize what ESL has already brought: the great diversity of multi-cultural perspectives.
It is the students that we have worked with that embody, protect, and venerate the myriads of perspectives that we seek to promote further in the book. It is these students themselves, by their everyday actions, and by their everyday words, that have, in some ways, written the book for us. After-all, it is the multi-cultural perspectives of these students that have demonstrated wholeheartedly that discussions can be had, that differences of opinions can be shared, and that minds can be broadened, enlightened, and sometimes even … changed.
A research paper requires that the writing is informative – because it has to provide an objective account; and that the writing is persuasive – because it has to defend an opinion; and above all, that the writing is argumentative – because if a writer is to inform and persuade, then then the writing needs to include a wide array of facts, data, and reasoning. As such, the book uses the term ‘argumentative’ to be inclusive of (rather than distinguished from) styles that are informative or persuasive.
The Audience for the Book
Readers of the book are assumed to have a working understanding of such terms as research, thesis, and scholarly sources. Similarly, readers are assumed to have had some experience with skills such as paraphrasing, summarizing, and quoting. As such, the book assumes that readers will have previously taken courses that taught the art of writing short papers (anywhere from five paragraphs to about five pages). By contrast, readers of the book are not assumed to have conducted advanced research (using databases). They are also not assumed to be experts in distinguishing such terms as thesis and counter-thesis, supporting arguments and counter-arguments, or supporting-evidence and counter-evidence. Furthermore, readers are not assumed to be experts in where the critical skills of paraphrasing, summarizing, and quoting end, and where the ubiquitous problem of plagiarizing begins. As such, the book provides its audience with the guidance and skills necessary to write a full-length (about 10 to 12 pages), advanced level, audience centered, argumentative research paper.
The book is all about perspectives. One perspective readers could have at the start of the book is that they are about to fulfill a course requirement. A second perspective readers could have is that they are going to learn something of value. A third perspective is that writing an advanced research paper may just change the world (even if it’s just a little bit).
We do understand that for many readers, the book and the writing course will be obligatory, and some readers may feel that their “content” courses should be the focus of attention. However, as everyone eventually learns – it is not about what you know, it is all about how you present what you know, and an advanced writing course is all about how students present what they know. Whether the readers are students of engineering, business, architecture, science, drama, or cookery, the simple fact is no-one can see inside another person’s head; instead, everyone is judged by what they produce, and how they produce it.
The point is this. A writing course is an amazing opportunity– but only for those who choose to take that perspective. The more you put into it, the more you will get out of it. Our hope is that everyone always takes the third perspective.