As a researcher and writer, your point of view, your thinking, and how you use sources in your writing are all related. Your point of view depends on the research question you posed. Take a look at the following thinking and writing categories discussed here.
In your role as synthesizer, you research the thinking of various experts and relay that information to your reader. Your job here becomes one of drawing together the opinions and positions of the experts under a specific theme or thesis.
Here are some examples of research questions that might call for synthesizing:
According to the experts, what are the specific causes of global warming?
What is the current thinking on how high unemployment rates affect the minimum hourly wage?
For this role, you play the detective, seeking information that will lead to a satisfactory answer to your research question. Sometimes you might find the answer in your reading. Other times, you might be required to analyze the information and draw conclusions about what the answers may be.
The following research “problems” call for a detective to solve them:
What is the best solution to Fishtown’s groundwater pollution problem?
Who is the narrator in Coleridge’s “Kubla Khan”?
You may remember that much college writing involves analysis. That holds true for your research assignments as well. In your role as analyst, you might be called upon to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of a particular argument or to apply analysis to primary sources or other data.
Here are a few examples of questions that require analysis:
In the controversy over the tobacco industry’s advertising, is the industry being treated unfairly? What are the issues?
How did Bell Atlantic’s corporate culture contribute to its breakup?
Here, you pose a research question and then design and conduct a research study or an experiment to answer it. The research paper will then report the results in scientific format.
Here are some examples:
What is the value of family therapy in the treatment of teenage drug and alcohol addiction?
What is the demographic profile of your classmates?
In a research assignment, you may be asked simply to report the facts about a controversy or to review a controversy and take a position. In the first case, you are asked to demonstrate that you understand the underlying controversy surrounding a particular topic. In this role, you would be asked to relate the issues in the controversy, giving a balanced view of each. You would include both the strengths and weaknesses of both sides.
What are the issues surrounding euthanasia for terminally ill patients?
What are the arguments for treating Microsoft as a monopoly?
In the advocate role, you would review the issues and then argue for the position you support.
Should forest habitats of endangered species be harvested?
Should the national deficit be paid off?