Monday, December 2, 2013

The Curious Researcher

Bruce Ballenger, The Curious Researcher: A Guide to Writing Research Papers. Longman, 2009. Sixth edition.

A seventh edition came out in 2011.

Ballenger, in The Curious Researcher does a good job of breaking down the process of writing an academic paper into manageable steps. One of the problems when a student receives an assignment to do a research paper is that they do not understand the process of writing a research paper. That does not have to be the case with this book. Ballenger divides the process of writing the research paper into five weeks. However, one can take longer to do the paper. I like to think of the five weeks as five parts of the process.

Bruce Ballenger is a professor of English at Boise State University. He teaches courses in composition, composition theory, the essay tradition, and creative nonfiction.

The Curious Researcher contains five chapters and an introduction. In addition it includes three appendixes. The first two appendixes are guides to MLA and APA style. The third appendix is a guide to "understanding research assignments."

In the introduction Ballenger introduces the reader to the five week plan and the overall structure of the book. In week one the researcher is determining a topic; developing background knowledge; and narrowing the topic. In week two the researcher is coming up with a plan for his research; developing search terms; locating sources. In week three the researcher is taking notes and citing sources. Ballenger makes some good points about writing throughout the process. In the next chapter Ballenger provides instruction on writing that first draft. The last week is for revising the draft.

The Curious Researcher does a good job in providing the steps of writing a research paper. Ballengar writes in clear prose. He also provides personal examples to make it more interesting. In addition, he provides tips on searching databases and search engines. This is a helpful book for the researcher.

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