CCCC 2001 in Review: E.3 The Research Paper in the Twenty-First Century, chaired by Chet Pryor

Virginia Perdue presented "Misreading the 'Simple Stuff': Bibliographic Conventions and the Student Writer."

Perdue believes that bibliographic formats are social conventions developed by human beings in response to changing conditions. Electronic texts and the confusing problems of documenting them provided the learning context for students to do some insightful critical thinking about bibliographic writing. Perdue discussed using an annotated bibliography to get students thinking about research papers earlier. She warned teachers of students' "genre blindness." The learning challenge is not simply writing a correct bibliographic page, said Perdue, but helping students to see distinctions between kinds of sources and information. This presentation was strong and useful because Perdue had clearly researched her subject and provided examples that gave listeners a wider understanding of what bibliographic work can really teach students.

Brian Sutton presented "The Research Paper's Place within the Composing Community: Results of a National Study."

Too few 4Cs sessions offered genuine research. Sutton, to the contrary, has done interesting research and helped listeners get a sense of the history of research paper writing based on studies Manning published in a l961 issue of CCC and a study Ford published in a l980 issue of College English. Sutton is working on his own survey to update the scholarship on research paper writing. Sharing his research and historical perspective, the presenter discussed variations in length, technologies, and resources, as well as language changes from "Freshman" to "First-Year."

Sutton mentioned a point made by Richard Larson several decades ago that there is no research paper genre--it differs too much from discipline to discipline and decreases the concept of research.

Sutton observed that, in 1982, composition teachers widely assigned one long paper whereas now research assignments in composition involve shorter and more frequent papers. Sutton also observed little innovation in the research paper that matched what technology has done. Sutton mentioned how libraries have moved from on-site tour to virtual tour and how computer databases change research challenges from scraping up sources to evaluating which ones are most useful.

The presenter wondered about who actually teaches research papers and found that, in the past, 80% of regular, tenure track faculty were likely to teach the research paper whereas now only 20% of the teachers who instruct first-year research writing are full-time faculty. Sutton finished his presentation by asking for survey participants and mentioning that what hasn't changed in the studies he used is that learning to write researched-based essays is still a central element in the first-year writing experience. The presenter and researcher was generous with his work and made the audience anticipate the publication of his updated findings.

Michelle Flemming presented "Reconfiguring the Role of the Research Paper: Using Collaborative Writing to Teach Basic Academic Research and Writing Strategies." The gist of the boring presentation was divide and conquer. [WH]

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