When Should You Start Writing? - Drafting "in the Middle"
n The Curious Researcher, Bruce Ballenger advocates writing "in the middle,"
meaning during the research process (119). Rather than wait until all notes
have been taken and the due date is very near, you can begin to make sense of
information already gathered and realize other areas where research is needed
next by drafting some paragraphs.
If you have taken double-entry notes or kept a research log, you already have
begun to think about the significance of the information learned. Now those
facts and thoughts can be drafted into sections of the research essay. Review
your notes to find two or three significant ideas. Then as you start drafting,
remember to explain why the research information is important rather than
assume a reader already understands its significance. As you present research
information, use the following phrases, which are called "signal phrases," to
mention titles and authors:
In "Article Title," Geneva Smitherman explains that Ebonics . . . paraphrase
In Book Title, Myra and David Sadker assert, "quotation " (207).
Remember that paraphrased information, meaning ideas restated in your own
words, must be cited as well as any direct quotations. Using what is known as
a signal phrase to identify the source, a student writer makes clear where the
cited material begins. The parenthetical citation shows where the research
information ends and a researcher starts to elaborate on that material. For
According to Michael Fullan, rapid and massive school reform may not be
possible because these plans may be "designed to help, but they actually add
insult to injury. Complex implementation plans themselves become another
source of confusion and burden" for weak school systems (97). Thus, schools
cannot be expected to change overnight; reform plans cannot be imposed
suddenly upon teachers already overwhelmed by a troubled school system.
Instead reform must be a continuous and gradual process.
By drafting "in the middle," using signal phrases to introduce your research,
and adding citations of your sources, you can avoid writing a last minute
report in which you only fill up the required number of pages with what
experts have said.