synthesizing other people’s research on a particular topic and attempting to solve a particular puzzle.

Research Paper Guidelines:

Writing a research paper in linguistics follows many of the guidelines that other academic essays do. You are synthesizing other people’s research on a particular topic and attempting to solve a particular puzzle. So, it is certainly critical that you make it absolutely clear when you are presenting other people’s ideas and when you are presenting your own. Please follow any standard academic reference style sheet (APA, MLA, etc.) when citing your references; your paper must include a References section at the end. Plagiarism is a serious academic offence and will have serious consequences on your academic career. Don’t do it. It’s not worth it.

It is hoped that your annotated bibliography has got you well on the way in defining your topic, but you should be thinking about the Statement of the Problem, or Hypothesis you will be addressing in your paper. Make sure you have an explicit (often 1-sentence) statement. E.g. “In this paper I will demonstrate that age effect are more pronounced for phonetic implementation than phonological representation”; or “In this paper, I will argue that debilitative anxiety is an underlying cause of low levels of fluency in communicative tasks.”

The general form of the paper would be something like this:

  1. Introduction Statement of the Problem 2. Theoretical Assumptions Literature Review 3. The Data 4. Analysis of the Data 5. Conclusion

Your introduction should be a clear statement of the problem you will be addressing and a road map to the reader of what you’re going to do in the paper. There should be no surprises after the introduction.

Make sure you state your theoretical assumptions as to such things a linguistic model assumed (e.g. model of syllable structure, or theory of WH-Movement), theory of learning (rulebased, associative, etc.), what is being acquired (parameter, schema or skill), definitions of technical terms (e.g., recast, or negative feedback) etc.

When summarizing the existing literature, you will become familiar with other people’s attempts to solve a particular problem. While they may disagree with one another, begin by giving the reader an overview of what has been done in this field. This will most likely included past findings and limitations of past analyses. Thus, you have the opportunity, and indeed the requirement, to be more critical in this paper than in your annotated bibliography.

The Analysis of the Data section will include other people’s analysis, and will also include your own analysis or arguments. Data do not have to be only experimental data or reports of statistics or measurements of brain activity (for example). The data for you might be the tasks used to investigate a particular phenomenon, or the results of the same tasks in different L1s.

Your task is to provide a small, incremental new contribution to our knowledge base. You can do it! There are a different ways to provide an original contribution. One is to provide a reanalysis of existing data (perhaps within a different theoretical framework). Another is to introduce new data (from another source) or a new phenomenon that you feel is relevant. For example, a number of articles may provide a framework for dealing with the acquisition of syllable structure or relative clauses, and you may feel that the given theories would have difficulty in accounting for some L2 Arabic data that you’ve come across elsewhere. Feel free to show how the new data would be problematic for the previous theoretical accounts. A third way would be to synthesize existing data in a manner that has not been done before. Perhaps you have noticed that the seemingly conflicting results of different recast studies do not take into account that some of the learners are multilingual, or heritage language speakers, or some other such variable, and that by taking that variable into account you can make sense of the data.

Remember that you have to provide arguments for your analysis. Logical argumentation is a step-by-step process that allows the reader to follow you as you are building your case. Research papers are not the place for stating unsupported opinions.

The conclusion is a summing up of what has gone before. You may also wish to speculate as to areas of further research that would be useful.


Technical Details:

Expected Length: 10 pages (at 1.5 line spacing), excluding references. Do not use a font smaller than 12 point. Please leave adequate margin space for me to write comments (2.54 cm is fine). Name and student number are on (at least) the first page. Please number the pages. You may print double- or single-sided

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