Tuesday, March 20, 2007

An update

In case you were wondering (despairing, even) - yes, I have been doing more then obsessing about Disney. I promise. I even went out this past weekend to celebrate Sarah's 24th birthday. That involved a very hilarious scavenger hunt where a 3-girl team sparred off against a 4-boy team in a fast-paced hour and a half race to the finish (the boys won). We also went out that same evening to The Elephant & Castle where we drank green beer in honor of Saint Patrick.

Oh, and I've also been researching for my final Conflict Resolution paper. Its worth 25% so I'm a bit nervous. And when I'm nervous I procrastinate. Then I panic two days before and write the entire thing in one night. At least, that's what I'm counting on happening.

My paper is going to be on the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Some nice things about this are that 1) the topic is extremely interesting, 2) I already did a lot of research on it last year when I was torn over writing about the TRC or Rwanda's gacaca program for my Restorative Justice class, and 3) Elliot and Melissa were nice enough to buy me a copy of Desmond Tutu's No Future Without Forgiveness which so far is excellent. So this means I have all of my research gathered. I just need to finish reading/rereading it and then start selecting quotes and streamlining towards a thesis.

Generally, these are the steps I go through for writing any kind of a serious research paper:

First I choose a topic. If I can't think of a specific topic, I think of a general area that I'm interested in and start searching the UofW Cybrary databases until I find an article that looks interesting. Then I'll read that article and hope that it sparks an idea.

Once I've got a general topic, I pull up as many interesting looking articles as possible and print them all off. Sometimes I'll even go the library, but not usually as this has resulted one too many times in excessive late fees. *sigh* As a result I've learned that its smarter for me to buy a book than to borrow one and end up paying for it in the long run. So for a major research project I'll usually buy 1 really great looking book and start reading it about a month beforehand to get a feel for the topic. (For my project on Rwanda I read We Wish To Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families. With the combination of the book, numerous articles, documentaries, and movies I ended up overdosing on genocide and experienced a hellish month of darkness. That's another story.)

If my topic is for a major research paper, I usually also watch a movie or documentary (or two or three). For my TRC project, so far I've only watched In My Country. Its gotten poor reviews but for my purposes I give it a 5 out of 5. It gave me a feel for what it must have been like to sit through the Commission hearings and it included numerous real life testimonies. (And I didn't realize until I watched it that the Commission moved all over Africa - it journeyed to the people, rather then making the people come to it like a traditional court would have.)

Once I've finished watching and reading, I take all of my material and start typing out all of the quotes I found interesting. For my Rwanda paper, I ended up with over 30 pages of quotes. For my Gandhi paper, I ended up with 15 pages (but that was for a much shorter assignment).

Once I've got all of my quotations typed up (with their page number and author and article title next to them), I start sorting them into made-up-Anactoria-categories based on the points I've realized I want to make as I write my paper. This way, as I go through the paper I can go to my quotes and just pick and choose - I've already got my layout, including a quotes section for my introduction, thesis, and conclusion.

Of course, sometimes I've gone overboard and ended up with waaay to much information.

In fact, that's probably always the case...

But I'd rather have too much than not enough because I like to be able to state things... authoritatively in my paper.

Anyways, once my quotes are sorted I start to write. It really, really helps to have all of those quotes right there for inspiration!

As I write, I use the best quotes in the body of the paper... but sometimes I have so many good quotes that I end up creating footnotes just so I can include the extra quotes that it would hurt me to leave out.

What was the point of this post again?

Oh yeah, do the rest of you do this? I guess I'm trying to figure out if this is the typical student way of writing a paper. If not, what do you do that is kind of special? (Or eccentric even!)

P.S. I got an A+ on the Rwanda paper. I got an A- on the Gandhi paper. So far the system is working. But if you have any better ideas, be sure to let me know! ;)

P.P.S. How desperate is it to write about doing your homework instead of actually
doing it??? Argh. (And no, I didn't do any today.... I was too busy eating odd potluck food and watching Gilmore Girls.)

P.P.P.S./Amendment - I have been told this was an extremely boring post. So sue me, Sarah! :P

1 comment:

Elliot said...

"How desperate is it to write about doing your homework instead of actually doing it???"