Research conceptualization in doctoral and master’s research writing
Keywords:multilingual writers, doctoral writers, masters writers, research writing, research conceptualisation, problem formulation, problem statements
Research conceptualization is challenging for doctoral and master’s writers, particularly multilingual students engaging in thesis writing or writing for publication. In doctoral and master’s student writing, research conceptualization appears in three genres: problem statements, research proposals and introduction sections or chapters. Swale’s (1990; Feak and Swales, 2011) CARS model is most often used to analyze conceptualization in these genres. While very useful as an analytical tool, the CARS model does not translate well to pedagogy. I argue that Merriam’s (2009) problem/purpose statement and questions (PPS&Q) format provides a flexible and accessible technique to make the process of research conceptualization visible and to help students focus their research throughout the writing process. Navigating problem formulation and gap spotting requires highly complex literacies and Merriam’s method allows students to begin simply and build complexity. While genre visibility provides a way for doctoral and master’s students to access high-level literacies demands, it can also be formulaic and constraining and needs to be taught with critical awareness.
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