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Academic Writing - Student Term Papers - Structure, Introductions, Conclusions

Seminar Paper 1997 41 Pages

English Language and Literature Studies - Other

Excerpt

Content

List of Tables

I. Introduction

II. Prerequisites
2.1. Data
2.2. Methods

III. Analysis
3.1. GeneralStructure
3.2. Introductions
3.3. Conclusions

IV. Discussion of Examples
4.1. Introductions
4.2. Conclusions

V. Conclusion

VI. Bibliography

Appendices
A Specific Demands on Structure and Content by Instructors
B Table B1: Technical Characteristics of Selected Student Term Papers
C Introductions from Selected Student Term Papers
D Conclusions from Selected Student Term Papers
E Rewritten Introductions
F Rewritten Conclusions

Tables

Table1: Demands on Structure of Student Essays and Term Papers by Writing Guides and Instructors

Table2: StructuralElementsofSelectedStudent TermPapers

Table3: Instruction Constituents of Selected Student Term Papers

Table4: Conclusion Constituents of Selected Student Term Papers

Table B1: TechnicalCharacteristicsofSelectedStudentTermPapers

I. Introduction

Academic writing is a task that students, especially in the social sciences, engage in very frequently during the course of their studies. They have to compose essays, research reports, term papers etc., which, besides being the basis for students' eva luation, are to prepare them for their professional careers later in life. For those who will stay in the field, writing is going to be a major activity. Who else if not current students are to produce those kinds of texts they are presently studying, to quote one of my professors.

At university a student's writing skills set him or her apart from other students in the eyes of the professor, but there is no real competition; all papers will be read by the instructors. In the professional world, however, with an abundance of academic texts and with limited time, only those articles will get attention that, besides containing profound reasoning, are at the same time well written, i.e. conveniently structured, precise, short, well formulated etc.

Since good writing skills seldom come naturally, it takes a lot of practice to gain them; specialised training in this area is very helpful, too. At the English department ofMartin -Luther-University, students get a lot of practice; they are required to produce quit e a large number of papers and essays compared, for example, to students of business and economics at MLU. Training, however, is rather limited; self study is usually the rule. The acquisition of writing skills is therefore often a struggle of trial and error which does not necessarily lead to success. Individual professors use different standards in evaluating students' writing which are sometimes made available to students and sometimes not. Comments on the actual writing are scarce and only few instructors suggest the revision of a paper by the student (with advice on what needs improvement and how) when the formal realisation is not sufficient. Student writing guides from the library can help; they are, however, in some aspects contradictory, and since not all guides give advice on all the problems that can be encountered, several have to be studied.

This paper is part of a study on academic writing conducted within the seminar "Academic Discourse". The study examines students' works with regard to the authors' writing skills. It looks at the various components of a student term paper (linguistic features and structural elements) to detect the problems German students of English have. The objective is to create a guide for current and future students in this department experiencing difficulties in this area. It combines advice from published writing guides and professors, linguistic theory and personal experience, and is to be an introduction to academic writing for beginners and a reference booklet for th e more experienced. We did not attempt to produce a "How -to" manual but rather tried to name the problem areas and to offer help on those with advice and examples. It cannot take the responsibility off the students for the further refinement of their skills by other means. The means. The study will further emphasise the need for specialised training in academic writing;.

The following part of this study focuses on three areas of student term papers: general structure, and structure of instructions and conclusions. Introductions are vital components of articles; in the outside -the- university-world the introduction often decides whether the rest of the paper will be read at all. Conclusions have been included because of their functional connection to the beginning. Comments on the general structure are to complement the study.

The paper starts with an introduction of the data and an explanation of the methods used. A presentation of the available advice from professors and writing guides on each topic follows , furthermore tables showing how the studied data has followed these suggestions. The analysis points out discrepancies and offers explanations; it also includes a short evaluation of the guiding material. Finally, suggestions are made on the basis of rewritten introductions and conclusions of student term papers.

II. Prerequisites

2.1. Data

The analysis is based on 17 of my own term papers written over the course of nine semesters between 1992 and 1996 in my major subject English and American Language, L iterature and History and in my minors,

Economics and Russian. The term paper has been given preference to the essay since it is the typical type of text required at this university.

Grammar and spelling of those papers cited within this work have not been corrected. Footnotes and endnotes are not relevant for the current analysis and have therefore been omitted; references within the text, however, have not been taken out. Full length versions of all papers with teachers' comments can, when available, be obtained from the author.

Four of the works were written and presented by a group of students. There was a core group of two students who worked on all four papers. In all those cases I was co -responsible for composing the final version from the material provided by the other students. The papers were written at different universities and departments and therefore graded from different perspectives.

Table B1 contains a list of all papers used in this report and a summary of their technical characterist ics. They are sorted according to their date of production and have been assigned numbers in that order, starting with 1 for the first paper written. Those numbers are used in this report to refer to the papers without mentioning their whole titles every time. The shaded areas in tables 2, 3, 4 andB1 mark those papers that have been analysed in more detail with respect to introductions and conclusions. They were selected because they were written in English, had all an introduction, all but one a conclusion and deal each with a different subject (linguistics, literature, economics, history, business). The terms in italics in tables 2, 3 and 4 mark optional elements.

2.2. Methods

In order to get a basis to which my data could be compared to, I randomly chose five writing guides from the shelves of our English -library. I favoured the random choice to the systematic one since I assume from experience that a first year student would usually not do a comparative study of several guides before starting to work on the assigned project but rather take either the one that looks most promising or simply the one that is available if he or she has not been recommended one by other students or the instructor. This method was used to show how far the average student can get without a course on academic writing. I compared the advice given in the guides on general structure, introductions and conclusions and put it in relation to these elements of my own papers. All papers have been analysed according to their structural el ements and constituents of introductions and conclusions, i.e. what elements do they contain. Results of this analysis are summed up in tables 2, 3 and 4. Tables 3 and 4 include a summary of the advice by the writing guides. Their advice on the general structure together with the demands by the individual instructors are combined in table 1.

To demonstrate the shortcomings of introductions and conclusions from my own papers I rewrote them using the findings from the writing guides, teacher's advice and e xperience. The original versions are in appendices C and D, their rewritten variants in appendices E and F. Comments and parts of original and rewritten versions are included in the main part of this report (sections 3.2., 3.3. and 4.) .

III. Analysis

From the books I consulted on student writing,1 just one was specifically designed for non -native speakers writing in English.2 None focused on the type of text that is generally expected of students in our departmen- the term paper, i.e. the elaborate dis cussion of certain points of a broader topic given by the instructor, with students usually being free to decide how to deal with the topic and where to place the emphasis. This freedom is due to the fact that instructors usually do not make clear what exactly they expect from a term paper. The definition above is a general description of the type of text I usually hand in, fairly successful so far. A more precise interpretation would be a valuable supplement to this study; further research in this area should include this question.

The writing guides concentrate mainly on the essay and the research report; they give very helpful tips on writing in general. They can not, however, fully replace instruction by those who give the seminar and grade the papers. An introductory seminar for freshmen on academic writing, as has been offered this semester for the first time since 1992, is a good alternative. The following sections will further underline the importance of such a seminar while dealing with the genera l structure of term papers and structural elements of introductions and conclusions in more detail.

3.1. General Structure

Table 1 summarises the advice given by the writing guides and the requirements by instructors. The structural elements in the first column are taken from Lyons (1990) because he presented them in greatest detail. He noted, though, that not all papers require all elements; their usage depends on the length, complexity, and formality of the report. Although the terms occasionally differ, all of the guides agree (directly or implicitly) that the basic components of a paper are an introduction, a body, and a conclusion. They do not, however, find a formal separation always necessary. Especially in a more essay -like paper, subheadings are not required. For our professors, on the other hand, the task of writing a term paper obviously already implies a text consisting of an opening, a middle and an end because only few point out those elements specifically.

In my experience, they prefer texts that are also formally structured. Their references to the structure of a paper therefore regard mainly those elements that, in their experience, students not necessarily think of, like a table of content (which implies subsections), a bibliography etc.

Table 1: Demands on Structure of Student Essays and Term Papers by Writing Guides and Instructors

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An ideally structured student term paper, as derived from the above table, consists of a title page, a table of content, an introduction, a body (with subsections), a conclusion and a bibliography. In business and economics classes and for research reports in other fields, often an abstract is required. In those areas additional material has to be provided in appendices more frequently than e.g. in literature or history. An extra section for endnotes needs to be included when they are preferred to footnotes. The latter three elements are therefore optional, to be added on demandonly.

Table 2 shows the structural elements of the term papers I analysed. An entry is marked as ( ^) indicates introductory sentences and/or concluding remarks but they were part of the main text, nothing like an e.g. introduction of the format discussed later in this study. This practice follows the requirements on a school essay, the type of text freshmen have produced until they came to university. The table demonstrates the influence of direct instructions on how to structure a paper. The first seven p apers more or less follow the model outlined by the first professor. Those points that have not been given direction on, like structure, are handled in a way that has formerly been successful, e.g. at school. As more structural elements are demanded

later by other professors, they are included and usually used in the future, too,4 i.e. successful strategies are continued although the grades do not seem to reflect formal improvements.

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As table B1 shows, the grades do not vary a lot.5 Still, the data does not indicate a return to the simpler structure when the professor does not state any requirements on format,6 although a more structured paper is harder to write. I believe that as I progressed in my studies and encountered more and more academic texts, I realised that certain formal standards exist and tried to follow those.

The table shows further that except in one seminar,7 there were no formal or other requirements on the paper during the Grundstudium, while later nearly every professor made some comments on the subject. This could be a reaction to papers of insufficient quality according to Hauptseminar standards. As I demonstrated earlier, successful strategies are continued; those from the Grundstudium are transferred to the

Hauptstudium, where they do not suffice. The instructor of paper 1 recommended a table of content but did not demand one; since she did not elaborate on the structuring of a paper, I omitted it then and in the following 6 papers until someone insisted on it. I think it is more beneficial for all when standards are set at the beginning.

Learning by doing takes time; an introductory seminar on writing that would raise the starting level, can help students to master writing techniques earlier in their stu dies and leaves them more time to practice their application. Although very good guides on academic writing exist, most of them are quite complex; they include tasks a freshmen has never encountered before. Since hardly any guide is designed particularly for a single subject, students may wonder how much is actually relevant for them and in how far this advice corresponds with the ideas of the professors who will grade them. An introductory seminar could take care of that.

3.2. Introductions

According to Lyons (1990), an introduction has one primary function: it is to persuade the reader to read the entire article. Again, this is not necessarily the case at university, because all papers have to be read completely. If current students want their later publications to get attention, however, they need to consider that the busy researcher wants to know exactly what is in a paper, including outcome, from reading the abstract and possibly the introduction. He/she most likely selects the papers he/she is studyin g in detail on the basis of that introduction. It therefore needs to raise interest in the purpose and significance of the paper, and to inform readers (in clear and precise prose, as Lyons suggests) of the central idea, the scope and the objective of the report. Lyons does not show how to write such an introduction; his guide deals with grammar, spelling, tenses etc. and looks at entire papers only briefly.

Swales (1990) and Weissberg/Buker (1990) went a step further and developed each a model for introductions of research articles (RAs), the latter for students writing up experimental research while Swales' model is slightly more general. In both models introductions move from broad information on the topic to more specific information regarding the present study.

The five stages in for an introduction to an experimental research report are 8

1) setting the scene: general statements about the field of research
2) review of literature: more specific statements about aspects of the problem studied by other resarches
3) indicate need for investigation
4) very specific statements about the purpose and objective of the study
5) optional: justification for doing the study

Three of the ten chapters in that book show in great detail how this model can be applied, e.g. concerning grammatical structure, rhetorical form, key vocabulary etc. The remaining seven chapters cover a single topic each. This special attention given to the introduction underlines further its significance for the whole research article. Since this report concentrates on structure, I will not discuss the practical realisation of the model. The examples in Appendix C and E, however, give some ideas how the elements can be used.

John M. Swales developed the opposite model for introductions of RAs. He is also working with examples to demonstrate its application. The model is similar to the suggestions by Weissberg/Buker but includes findings, the result of the study. This benefits both the reader and the writer. The reader knows right aw ay what to expect from the paper and does not have to search through the entire article for the answer to the question raised by the topic. For the writer it is important to keep in mind what the aim of the papers is, so it does not get too diffused. A thesis statement could include the purpose and the results of a study. Lyons points out the importance of a thesis statement; it is the framework on which everything in the paper will hang, it defines its limits, and keeps the writer's mind fixed on central theme.

Gordon Taylor (1989) has written a guide especially for students of the arts and social sciences, focusing on the essay. He agrees with the other authors whose guides I consulted9 that the usual function of an introduction in academic writing is to tell the reader of the issue being raised, and to justify that choice, e.g. provide new evidence, fill a gap in knowledge, introduce a new theory. He argues, though, that since students usually do not chose their own topics, something like move 2 of Swale s' model or step 3) in the

Weissberg/Buker model are not necessary in a student essay. At our university, the professor usually hands out a list with topics and students take one from that list, in that respect they do not chose a topic themselves. Students do not have to explain why they need to investigate in this area. I believe, however, that we could still practice the task of establishing a niche, e.g. by trying to find out why the professor has raised the issue. For example, the topic for paper 14 wa s "The Role of Nature in Midnight's Children". There is an attempt to justify taking up this problem in the introduction of that paper!10

In his novel Midnight's Children Salman Rushdie dedicates one chapter completely and exclusively to nature. Although "natural" items like trees, lakes, animals and mountains do occur in other chapters, too, "The Sunderbans" is the only one in which he portraits nature as an uncivilized, uncolonizedjungle - a conscious being representing nature in the sense of "the natural world as it exists without man or his civilisation." When, however, a topic on the professor's list is as broad as e.g. "Jack Kerouac On the Road ", an interpretation of that issue, an indication of how to deal with it, and a limitation of the scope of the study become necessary, i.e. an own topic needs to be defined. In my eyes, this includes ajustification of the choices made.

Once the topic is clear, Taylor sees the vital component of an introduction in the statement of the case, i.e. the answer to the implied question of the essay topic, reasons for that answer, why was this answer chosen over other possible alternatives, what were thejudgement criteria. Optional are the setting of the scene, relevant background information, and a definition of terms. A direct or implicit indication of the structure of the essay is possible but not necessary. These constituents need to be combined to create a relevant and coherent introduction.11 Taylor demonstrates this very detailed with examples; there is no single s cheme that can be followed because essay topics vary a lot. Choices about style and structure always have to be made that support the purpose of the paper best.

The scarce comments of my instructors regarding the structure and constituents of an introduction seem to back the assertion that introductions do not play as important a role for students as for researchers. In the seminars I took within the last 41 /2 years, only three professors handed out guidelines12 which basically name the main constituents. They comply with those suggested by the writing guides: interpretation of the topic, indication of how to deal with it, review of existing research, evaluation of this research, thesis statement, review of material used and evaluation of its relevance for the topic, explanation and evaluation of the choices made, methods, paper structure, definition of terms.

Table 3 combines the above mentioned constituents as far as possible. It demonstrates the general correspondence in the authors' opinions about intro duction constituents, although emphasis varies. This is partly due to the different types of texts these writers studied. Since professors know best what kind of paper they expect from us, first of all their advice should be followed. I would further recommend the three moves of Swales' model as a general outline; the single steps need to be individually adapted to the topic, the type of paper etc. An introduction should definitely include objective and scope of the study (with reasons), findings if it is a research paper, and a thesis statement when it is suitable. Paper structure and methods may close an introduction, the latter can get a separate section if it is too extensive. A structure outline can be explicit as in paper 14:

I am going to discuss in part 2.1. the colonial and pre - or non-colonial concepts of nature. In part 2.2. I will then look into the chapter and with the help of thejungle lessons demonstrate the process of change in Saleem and the three boy -soldiers. I plan to show in part 2.3 r elevance of thejungle experience for Saleem as well as for the reader outside the story. In conclusion I will summarise the results of the analysis and evaluate the paper with respect to whether it is suitable to prove my thesis and in how far the approach is relevant for or transferable to other post-colonial writers.

or implicit as in paper 17, where the indication ofhow the topic is dealt with is stated in the sequence of its realisation in the report:

The purpose of this paper is to introduce the c redit rationing model under asymmetric information by Blanchard and Fisher. I want to demonstrate how and why credit rationing occurs and that it is an equilibrium state. I will further use the model to show whether the interest rate is a reliable indicator for the influence of monetary impulses on the economy.

Only those papers have been included in table 3 that had a clearly separated introduction. To make comparisons possible, I labelled paragraphs and sentences of my data with the terms from the guide s when there was at least some correspondence.13

Table 3: Instruction Constituents of Selected Student Term Papers

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The label disregards differences in quality of e.g. background information or top ic generalisations. Otherwise comparisons on a structural level would be impossible.

The table shows that, after leaving out a separate introduction during the greater part of the Grundstudium, all introductions consist of at least three constituents: setting the scene, purpose and method/structure. The quality of the practical realisation of those elements is increasing with the number of papers written. All other constituents are used only in a few cases.

Despite its significance for a paper as indicated earlier, a thesis statement occurs only once14 Term papers are also to prepare us for the writing of our thesis paper, then a thesis statement is certainly necessary. Therefore it would help to occasionally develop one for practice even if it is not demanded. It could, for example, look like the one on paper 14. It includes both the purpose ("I want to show") and implicitly the scope of the paper:

I want to show how Rushdie portraits the pre -colonial concept of dangerous nature as opposed to the colonial one. The protagonist and his three followers, who represent the Western civilised culture, flee into thejungle and find themselves in a reversed situation: from hunter to hunted or, in a broader sense, from ruler to subject.

The Sunderbans - personified as a conscious being - have the power of destroying or refining the intruders depending on whether they are willing and able to learn the lessons it is teaching them.

The limits of the paper are often not made explicit except in the outline of the paper s tructure. Evaluations of choices made regarding the objective, scope, material used etc. are also missing in most papers. A reason might be my reluctance to critically evaluate my own work, partly due to personal characteristics but also to lacking encouragement from the instructors within a seminar.

Move 2 of the Swales -model is missing in most papers. Table B1 and Table 2 do not indicate a relation between who made the final topic specifications and the attempt to establish a niche, as Taylor suggested.15 Maybe the seminar, the way of teaching, already implied the direction of the research, or the topic was defined in a talk between student and professor. Move 2 is omitted in this case because in students' perception papers are often written for professors rather than for ourselves. Well written introductions can help clarifying our thoughts more than a simple structure outline can. Formulated arguments reveal contradictions and missing parts better. A move 2 is to show the relevance of the current work, it is the motivation for writing the entire paper. Another reason for leaving out the establishment of a research niche could be the problem of not knowing what is expected, in how far own ideas should be included, are we as students in a position to argue with standing researchers etc.

Furthermore, counter claims or indications of gaps in existing research can only be made when this research has been studied thoroughly beforehand. Therefore professors ask for a review of the relevant literature to be inclu ded in the paper. The problem I see is, that techniques for reviewing and especially for critically evaluating literature are not taught to English majors. We can take courses on British and American history in the history department. There students learn these techniques during their Grundstudium and have to use them in their papers, as the handout with guidelines for term papers in this department shows. 16 The professor who taught the seminar I attended in this department, exempted the English majors from this task, probably knowing that they do not know how to do it. Self study is one argument, but there is too little
feedback from the professors in the returned papers. Again I want to argue that the techniques for applying knowledge need to be acquired at the beginning of a study with help from those who already possess them.

3.3. Conclusions

Conclusions do not play such an important role in papers as introductions. The writing guides usually do not name any necessary constituents. According to Taylor it should be distinguishable from the main part and provide a sense of closure to the whole paper. Although he describes a conclusion as a reflection on the beginning and the middle, it should not be a rewritten version of the introduction in the past tense. To him a systematic review of the paper is not necessary, emphasising the most important arguments is sufficient. When the main part of the paper has been clear, a paper can also end with a larger generalisation on the topic, a particular concrete instanc e, or an aphorism. Conclusions of research reports should sum up the present state of knowledge and recommend further research. When implications of the study are to be included in the conclusion, it is necessary to state whether those are implications for further studies in that area, implications for existing research, implications for the application of the findings etc., i.e. what kind of implications, "implications for what".

Lyons suggests to simply restate the idea from the introduction in the conc lusion, and to summarise the major points from the body. This summary should have a conclusive impact on the reader; its stylistic realisation determines in what state of mind the reader is leaving the essay. Under no circumstances should a conclusion contain any information that has not been in the paper. Optional are general remarks on the topic, implications of the study for other areas, and recommendations for further research.

Swales has derived the opposite eight -move-model for conclusions of research articles. He thinks that general conclusions are optional, however, the results for each research question should be summarised and conclusions stated with reference to previous research. Additionally, the author should explain what the research suggests with reference to previous research and/or the current work.

Fairbairn/Winch and Weissberg/Buker did not include conclusions in their guides. Of my professors only two required certain constituents.17 They wanted the conclusion to take up the question or problem from the introduction, to summarise the results, to evaluate the paper (with explanations), to make recommendations for further research and to show its significance for research in that area.

As for introductions I suggest to follow first of all the demands of the professor, whe n they are made available. Although the writing guides do not name any necessary constituents, they all recommended to include the results of the study, some sort of implication, i.e. what follows from the findings, and suggestions for further research, the latter only in research papers. An example of an implication of the results is given in the rewritten version of the conclusion of paper 13:

The results demonstrate nevertheless the general characteristics of the English spoken in Canada and demonstrate the direction of the development of the language.

In longer papers the problem may be restated, in shorter ones (under 3,000 words) this would involve too much repetition. The same is valid for background or general information on the topic. I find Swales' model for conclusions a little too detailed for student term papers, especially since research articles are the exception.

Table 4 summarises the conclusion constituents of those papers that had a separate conclusion. All of them include a summary of fin dings. Many start with topic generalisations, a restatement of the problem or some other link to the introduction. The data shows the effort so write introductions and conclusions in such a way that they frame the main part of the text. Paper 17, for example, starts with generalisations on the topic that are taken up again, continued and commented on in the conclusion18

In perfect markets, i.e. in those that are marked (besides other characteristics) by complete information of all market participants, the prices for bank loans or insurances reflect the exact risk attached to each individual project. In the real18

Table 4: Conclusion Constituents of Selected Student Term Papers

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world, however, information asymmetries exist. When someone is buying a car insurance, the insurer usually does not know the driving habits of that person as well as the driver does. Its records might show that inexperienced drivers are engaged in more crashes than experienced ones, but it is very hard to quantify the risk of each individual driver. Insurance premiums are therefore set in such a way to reflect the average risk of a certain, e.g., age group. These rates can be too low for some reckless drivers but too high for some careful drivers. To the latter it might then become cheaper to forego insurance altogether. For the high risk drivers, paying the higher premium is still cheaper than not having an insurance at all. The insurer is then left with a higher percentage of risky drivers than before. If the company wants to raise the premiums in order to make up for the higher risk, some of the lower risk drivers will drop out, too...

.. .Asin the real -world insurance business, the capital market has developed institutions t hat specialize in acquiring very specific information on the riskiness of investors and their projects. Banks use non -price

screening mechanisms such as collateral requirements to determine the chance of default. They provide incentives for borrowers not to default by making the availability of credit and the rate charged dependent on the borrower's previous credit record.

In two of the papers I tried to include some sort of evaluation of methods, material or present research, in table 4 included under "implications". I do not think, however, that the quality of paper 17 is sufficient for a term paper in that respect:

There exists a great number of articles examining the topic under various assumptions; findings differ accordingly. Blanchard and fisher say that these complete macroeconomic models, unlike their predecessors from the 1960s and 1970s, attempt empirical relevance. They say further, that the phenomenon is not yet fully researched. It is therefore very likely that findings from this paper will hav e to be revised in the not so far away future.

This is a very general statement and it is probably valid for nearly every research paper. In paper 14I was a little more specific; but here the professor asked for an evaluation of our approach, and whether it was transferable to other authors.19

The approach I took in the analysis was basically a textual one with only a few references to the author’s biography or the historical events he describes. I do not regard it as readily transferable to the analysis of a work of every other post-colonial writer. A comparison between two cultures, however, is suitable for the discussion of works whose authors are familiar with more thanjust one culture, e.g. Rudyard Kipling.

In section 3.1. my data indicated improvements in the general structure of my papers with my progression in study. The number of basic structural elements rose steadily from three to six and was then constant20 This suggested that new structural elements would always be employed when they had been used once.21 This conclusion, however, does not hold for introductions and conclusions. There is, for example, a thesis statement in paper 14 but in none of the following ones. This paper has also an acceptable evaluation of methods while the following papers do not. One reason could be that those elements were specifically demanded in this case, but that did not matter with regard to general structure. There elements were kept even when no requirements were made. I think that it takes a lot more effort to write a good introduction than to simply subsection a paper and to include a table of content. Hard tasks seem to be performed only on demand or when the student has acquired universally applicable skills, i.e. skills that allow him or her to write e.g. an evaluation on a history as well as on a literature or economics paper etc. The instructor of paper 14 gave an example of a thesis statement in his class and all students had to present theirs to the others within the seminar. Most of those statements foll owed the structure and in some cases even the exact wording of the example, just with different authors, titles and topics. This demonstrates that to the students it was not really clear what a thesis statement was, but the original, accepted one was simply copied. That, however, has nothing to do with learning a writing skill; it does not enable the student to write a thesis statement for another seminar. Without the know -how I did not include elements that were not specifically demanded in further papers ; and when they were, I tried to make something up like in paper 17 that wasjust enough. However, even this practice did not get commented on and will therefore most likely be continued.

Skill development is very important. As well as in a special seminar, students could learn writing skills by writing more smaller papers (for example in all subjects during Grundstudium) that concentrate on one or two tasks like literature reviews, critical evaluations, summaries, discussions of single aspects etc. Pape's could be discussed in class and techniques explained. During Hauptstudium, all those tasks then have to be

accomplished in writing a larger paper of the type we are currently producing throughout the study. Students could apply e.g. reviewing techniques they have acquired in literature, history and linguistics for totally different areas more easily. Furthermore, professors would get faster done with reading and students with writing.

IV. Discussion of Examples

In this section I want to explain briefly the changes I made in some of my introductions and conclusions to improve their structure.22

4.1. Introductions

Paper 13 deals with Canadian English, a linguistic topic. The main part of the original introduction consisted of topic generalisations and background information. I changed its weight in the rewritten version from2 /3 of the text to about1 /3. I further added more elements using Swales' model by simple reformulating the text, and I reordered the facts to gain a clearer structure. I think the ne w introduction shows better where the paper is heading and what can be expected. I rewrote it without adding more facts, i.e. I did not attempt to write a new version, Ijust improved the existing one on the basis of what was already there (incl. the entire paper). With this method I want to show that when a writer leaves him/herself enough time for revision before the deadline, improvements can be made without doing any further research.

The introduction to the literature paper (14) was graded "excellent', therefore I made only a few changes in the sentence structure to be more precise. The overall structure already follows the three moves proposed by Swales and only relevant background information is included as Taylor suggested.

I needed to completely rewrite the initial part of the economics paper (17) because I noticed that the style was not accepted in the economics department in Germany. So I exchanged the rather personal beginning to a more neutral one that has also a closer connection to the actual topic. In the second half of the introduction I rearranged the facts a little bit for clarification which again lead to more elements. I added findings although that was not really necessary here. The task was mainly to present existing research which I was not aware of until the paper was returned.

Paper 6 was a group assignment; the introduction tries to link the individual parts that were the sole responsibility of single students. It contains most of the necessary elements although their realisation needs to be improved. This general introduction has been written after the main part and is therefore rather a summary than a means to clarify the writers' thoughts. I suggest that unless all parts of a paper are written by all students together, everybody should write a short introduction to his/her part additionally to the general introduction. I therefore improved my rewritten versionjust on the language and style level.

The original introduction to the marketing paper (10) was very short and basically a list of elements without any links or structure that represented a line of thoughts. I nearly completely rewrote it using facts from the conclusion which already looked like an introduction written in the past tense. The new version has now a clearer structure and elaborates more on the individual points. The problem in this paper was that there was not very much to say and it therefore contains a lot of repetition. In this case, the findings could be left out of the introduction, especially since this paper also has an executive summary23

4.2. Conclusions

According to the writing guides I consulted for this study, there are no necessary constituents for conclusion; improvements were therefore made mainly on language and style.

The linguistics paper sums up all of its findings in the conclusion. The main part of the paper does contain this information but only in the form of tables. The verbal interpretation of the tables should be included in the main part, though. In the conclusion it would be suffic ient to highlight the main results. I did not take the findings out because then they would be totally missing from the paper. Repetitions within the conclusion should be avoided, too. An evaluation of the current work has been added as part of the implications of the study.

In the literature paper I made only slight changes in the last paragraph of the conclusion to make the sentences clearer. The elements I used in this and the preceding conclusion are those which I consider appropriate for this part of a paper.

In paper 17 the link to the introduction, the frame of the paper, had to be adapted to the changed beginning of the introduction. Although the evaluation of my work is too general, I did not make any changes there for the reasons I explained in section 3 of this study. It is probably best to leave an element out rather than to include one without a real content.

Paper 6 does not have a general conclusion. This is not necessary when all subsections already contain concluding remarks and when the findings are included in the introduction.

The conclusion of paper 10 was shortened to decrease the level of repetition. In the whole paper this is the fourth time all this information is given, therefore a general conclusion could be omitted here. The other option is to write some concluding remarks that do not relate specifically to the actual study, e.g. about distribution or Lehrkind's Coca Cola or about the seminar, how this practical approach has helped our understanding of marketing etc.

V. Conclusion

The study on academic writing was conducted to detect problems that students at the English department at MLU have in that area. This part of the study was based on existing research on academic writing in general and on actual data from this university. It dealt with the general structure of student term papers and with the structure of introductions and conclusions, i.e. it shows the Stand der Dinge and suggests improvements. It also attempts to go beyond examples and provide some geneal guideli ne. I also wanted to demonstrate the need for training in writing.

The analysis has shown that writing is a skill that can be learned - papers improve with progression in study. It also shows that training sppeds up the learning process. implying that students leave university with higher skills. Which is desirable.

On structure: general structure of term papers is not a problem once it has been explained. Be careful to tell stdents what you want and how they should do it. Structure ofd introduction is i n this poaper biggest prtoblem area. Intro is of high importance later on life but here there is not enough attention paid to it. Here it is not enough to name necessary constituents but need to teach universally applicable skills. Otherwise it is just copying. And increase commenting on papers to help learning process. Data did not show many difficulties in conclusion writing. Although no necessary constituents there are a few that can be used and also make up a good concl.

This is an initial study on t he basis of papers by just one student. To make more genertal statements more data needs to be analyzed, also taking into account the subject, progression in study, knowledge of skills, who was teacher etc. Then we could gain results that are valid for all students here while this is rather valid for me. I just assume that I am an average student and say that results for me are results for all.

Another need for research is on what is a term papper, what do profs expoect at different levels, what skills should students have when they leave university, how do thex see the current quality of papers.

I tried to be objective and when I drew conclus from the single to the general i tried to be objectve, too. I think that this study can be used as a basis for discussions between lehrende and lernende at our department with a hopefully fruitful outcome. I think it is better to talk than to worry about unfulfilled expectations from the other side. better skills help both sides, make studying more fun fo all.

VI. Bibliography

Fairbairn, Gavin J. and Christopher Winch: Reading. Writing and Reasoning - A Guide for Students. Open University Press, Buckingham (1991).

Lyons, Joseph, T. : Writing Fundamentals. Prentice Hall, Scarborough, Ontario (1990).

Swales, John M.: Genre Analysis - English in Academic and Research Settings Cambridge University Press, Cambridge (1990).

Taylor, Gordon: The Student's Writing Guide for the Arts and Social Sciences Cambridge University Press, Cambridge (1989).

Weissberg, Robert and Suzanne Buker: Writing up Research - Experimental Research Report Writing for Students of English Prentice Hall, Eaglewood Cliffs, NJ (1990).

Appendices

Appendix A

Specific Demands on Structure and Content by Instructors

Sequence of the guidelines in the order of their date of handout:

- instructions for paper 1
- instructions for papers 8 and 13
- instructions for paper 14
- instructions for paper 15
- instructions for paper 17
- instructions of instructor for paper 16 after paper was written

Appendix B

Table Bl: Technical Characteristics of Selected Student Term Papers

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Appendix C - Introductions of Selected Student Term Papers

Text 13 Seminar: Canada - Language and Society

Topic: Morphology and Syntax of the English Language in Canada

I. Introduction

(1) Morphology is the study of morphemes - the smallest meaningful unit into which a word can be divided - and how they are combined to make words. Syntax we call the rules for the arrangement of words into phrases, sentences and texts. (2) Unlike in the fields of vocabulary and pronunciation, in these areas we cannot find distinctive Canadian patterns of word or text formation if we compare them to British or American English. Small differences to either variety exist - in those cases, however, these do conform to the other variety. As Millard puts it: "The morphology and syntax of Canadian English is for all practical purposes identical to that of American English. At least some Canadians follow British practice..." Görlach says: "Morphology is ... identical in British and American English. There are no features that could count as Canadianisms. The same is true in the field of syntax." This becomes plausible if we look at the settlement history and Canada's relations to Great Britain and the United States. According to the "loyalist theory" those "Americans" who backed the British in the American Revolution left the country for England, the West Indies or Canada. The latter settled in the area of today's Ontario. They had a great influence on the development of modern Canada, and their speech became the basis for what today we call General Canadian - the speech of the urban middle class. Canada is also a member state of the Commonwealth which is still headed by the Queen of England. The use of British English was for a long time, and in some places still is today, associated with higher education and social status. It is also a means of NOT sounding American. On the other hand, at Canadian schools and universities many American grammar- and textbooks, dictionaries etc. are used, and Canada is very much exposed to American television- and radio programs and the American print media. "Until recently most of the books Canadians read were American or British, and the grammar and spelling reflect that."

(3) The following paper is an analysis of the part of the (4) Survey of Canadian English that is concerned with morphology and syntax. The methods I used do not conform with those of a statistician since neither did I have all the necessary information to do that nor am I trained well enough in the field of statistics. Nevertheless, I am certain that the (5) results will give the reader a general idea of the English spoken in Canada. One can also draw conclusions of the development of Canada.

Text 14 Seminar: Literatures in English - Comparative Studies Topic: The Role ofNature inMidnight's Children

I. Introduction

(1) In his novel Midnight's Children Salman Rushdie dedicates one chapter completely and exclusively to nature. Although "natural" items like trees, lakes, animals and mountains do occur in other chapters, too, "The Sunderbans" is the only one in which he portraits nature as an uncivilized, uncolonized jungle - a conscious being representing nature in the sense of "the natural world as it exists without man or his civilisation."

(2) Rushdie, of Indian origin and a British citizen, implements his thoughts about the man-nature relationship in this one chapter of his 1981 novel, in which many problems of all aspects of life are fictionalised and incorporated in the story of Saleem's life. Due to his connections to the mothercountry and its former colony, his viewpoint is broadened and, in a way, it authorises his writing about the contrasts between colonial and pre-colonial concepts of nature. Although Indian nature has been colonised for a long time, Indian culture has a somewhat different approach to nature than Western culture does.

(3) In the following paper I want to show how (4) Rushdie portraits the pre-colonial concept of dangerous nature as opposed to the colonial one. The protagonist and his three followers, who represent the Western civilised culture, flee into the jungle and find themselves in a reversed situation: from hunter to hunted or, in a broader sense, from ruler to subject.

The Sunderbans - personified as a conscious being - have the power of destroying or refining the intruders depending on whether they are willing and able to learn the lessons it is teaching them.

(5) For the analysis of the role of nature in Midnight's Children I want to concentrate mainly on "The Sunderbans"-chapter as far as working with the text is concerned. In order to briefly show the influence of the jungle experience on Saleem and the episode's part in the story as a whole, I will have to look at the entire novel.

I am going to discuss in part 2.1. the colonial and pre- or non-colonial concepts of nature. In part 2.2. I will then look into the chapter and with the help of the jungle lessons demonstrate the process of change in Saleem and the three boy-soldiers. I plan to show in part 2.3 relevance of the jungle experience for Saleem as well as for the reader outside the story. In conclusion I will summarise the results of the analysis and evaluate the paper with respect to whether it is suitable to prove my thesis approach is relevant for or transferable to other post-colonial writers.

I. Introduction

(1) If I did not finance my study by working part time or with the help of my parent's money I might go to a bank for a student loan. I would then invest this loan in my degree and hope that after five years I will find a very well paying job which enables me to repay my debt. As an English major, however, chances that I receive such a job are fairly low. I could deceive the bank by pretending to major in Economics. If I would then get the loan, I could still study English and get no job later. There is no way the bank gets its money back. Alternatively I could purchase lottery tickets and hope to win enough to pay back my loan and never have to worry about getting a job again. If I lose, though, the bank does not get anything, either. There are of course some students who really do study Economics and manage to become well-paid professors. The problem is that the bank does not know what I will do with the money once the loan is made, because it is too costly to monitor the behavior of all borrowers. It cannot differentiate between two freshmen without study records. There is always a risk of default. The bank is therefore very cautious and does not give out loans to all students who walk in the door even when they all study Economics and are potential professors.

(2) The purpose of this paper is to introduce the credit rationing model under asymmetric information by Blanchard and Fisher. I want to demonstrate how and why credit rationing occurs and that it is an equilibrium state. I will further use the model to show whether the interest rate is a reliable indicator for the influence of monetary impulses on the economy.

(3) The arguments are based mainly on Blanchard and Fisher's "Financial Markets and Credit Rationing" from their Lectures on Macroeconomics. Papers on similar problems especially by Stiglitz and Weiss, Blinder and Stiglitz and Mankiw have been very helpful, too.

Formal proofs are kept to a minimum due to my restricted curriculum as a minor in Economics.

Group assignments: general introductions

Text 6 Seminar: Decline of British Power

Topic: Cultural Explanation for British Economic Decline

(I)

(1) There are many theories about British economic decline, which roots are supposed to be found over 100 years ago. (2) The cultural one we want to discuss here is often used when all other theories have failed. (3) In this paper we try to highlight the main points of this theory and to show its pros and cons.

(4) The cliché about Britain says that it has an anti-industrial and pre-modern education system and is therefore internationally not competitive. The British Establishment is said to be tied in its traditions whose boundaries are very hard to leave by entrepreneurs. Businessmen traditionally have a low social prestige compared to the landed gentry and the aristocracy. Family firms were the major form of business organization, so there was no need for a professional training of future businessmen at universities, which delayed the introduction of science to business. Because of the industrial

revolution the peasant class in Britain was destroyed; it shifted from the country to the cities a (5) method

century earlier than in the rest of Eastern Europe, America and Japan. Therefore Britain could not (6) purpose

increase its productivity in the 1940s by a shift of working potential as the others did.

(5) To understand those points we also compare the British economy to the German and the American and (6) try to prove the failure of British entrepreneurs.

Text 10 Seminar: Marketing Topic: Distribution

I. INTRODUCTION: Distribution

(1) Distribution is the process of making products available to people when and where they want to purchase them. (Pride/Ferrell p. 336) This process has an impact on the choices that a marketing manager makes everyday. (2) The manager for Lehrkind's Distributing in Bozeman, MT, makes decisions based on distribution processes everyday. (3) This presentation will consist of three sections. In the first section distribution will introduced and applied to the case study of Lehrkind's Distributing. In the second section, specific details of Lehrkind's operations will be fleshed out. The third section will deal with the market aspect of Coca-Cola, while (4) providing an understanding of distribution efficiencies within the company and solutions to some of their problems.

Appendix D - Conclusions of Selected Student Term Papers

Text 13 Seminar: Canada - Language and Society

Topic: Morphology and Syntax of the English Language in Canada

III. Conclusion

(1) As the examples show, morphology and syntax of English spoken in Canada is a mixture of British and American variants with neither dominating. There are regional, age and gender differences, but we cannot say that the older generation prefers BE to AE, the eastern regions speak more modern than the westerns or that girls prefer the standard variant more than boys.

(2) In the following I am going to show the general tendencies that can be inferred from the tables.

(3) Among the parent's generation the British English variants of the examples from the test are more often used than the American ones, by mothers even a little more often than by fathers. Students seem about to switch to the American variants, it is already dominating but only slightly. Boys appear to be somewhat faster than girls in that process. Due to the fairly high usage of BE by the parents the figures for the individual provinces indicate a slightly dominating usage of BE, except for Newfoundland where BE is used a lot more often than AE. It is also interesting to look at the numbers of British Columbia - the only state that has a higher figure for AE than for BE.

If we look at the older - modern version opposition, we can see the transition to the newer forms; parents still report in some cases a dominating usage of older forms, although a greater part of them prefers modern ones. The majority of students, though, does not use the old forms anymore. This is the case in all provinces.

In the category standard - non standard the standard versions are preferred in both generations but more so by the older one and also more by females. Quebec appears to be the province with the highest proportion of people using the standard variants.

The Canadian "eh" - it must be a recent invention since only students of all provinces reported to use it a lot, twice as much as their parents and girls quite a bit more than boys.

In Canada we find evidence for the disappearance of one variant of a word or phrase that used to have (or still has) two. The older - or that variant that is supposed to disappear according to Saphir's theory of drift to the "invariable word" - is used by the older generation slightly more often than by the younger, but the so called "surviving variant", which is also not always grammatically correct according to present grammar books, is used even less by both generations.

(4) The English spoken in Canada is a mixture of British and American English, older and modern variants, standard and non standard forms. It is a language in a process of change as any living tongue. Morphology and Syntax used by Canadians is not specifically Canadian, but the combination and of all these various forms makes up a language that can be given a name of its own - Canadian English.

Text 14 Seminar: Literatures in English - Comparative Studies Topic: The Role ofNature inMidnight's Children

III. Conclusion

(1) My analysis of the role of nature in Midnight's Children shows, that it - personified in the jungle - is able to give Saleem his memory back. On the other hand, it serves as a mirror for people of Western culture in which they see, from the position of the victim, what they do to nature. At the same time Rushdie is showing them the difference between powerful nature and powerful humans: While humans tend to destroy in order to get space for themselves, nature is allowing every species a certain amount of freedom to develop independently. The ability of the jungle to lead Saleem and his followers back to the moral and ethic values of their own culture, reminds the reader of the place of mankind's origin and our responsibilities towards our environment. Despite possessing the gift of intelligence, humans do not know everything. They can still learn from nature.

(2) In so far, I believe, I did prove my thesis, also with the help of the text in parts 2.1. and 2.2. (3)

I discussed the chapter's relevance within the novel only very briefly because it was not exactly part of my topic. Neither did I go into the particulars of style and techniques. This is mainly due to pressures in time.

(4) The approach I took in the analysis of a part of the work of a post-colonial author is not transferable to every other writer of that category. However, since the main idea in my paper is the comparison between two cultures, it is, in general, suitable for the discussion of works, whose authors more than just one culture, e.g. Rudyard Kipling.

IV. Conclusion

(1) The introductory scenario is, of course, staged. (2) Unlike he banks in this rather simple model, the "real" capital market has developed institutions that specialize in acquiring information on default risk. Banks use non-price screening mechanisms such as collateral requirements to determine the chance of default. They provide incentives for borrowers not to default by making the availability of credit and the rate charged dependent on the borrower's previous credit record. All this is used to decrease the information asymmetries and to minimize the adverse selection effects of the allocation of credit. (3) Still, credit rationing occurs. (4) It is an equilibrium state resulting from rational behavior of market participants. The outcome is not always the first best choice or the socially desirable one. In those cases government intervention would help to restore market efficiency.

The form of contract determines whether there is any credit rationing. Those companies that can borrow at the open market (equity finance) do not have to face any quantity constraints; since their risk is observable it is reflected in the price of loans. Debt finance is more vulnerable to constraints in the size or quantity of loans because of information asymmetries concerning the riskiness of the project.

The level of investment depends not only on the interest rate, as shown in section 3.3. It is also influenced by the availability of credit and by the borrower's previous performance. Monetary shocks can give impulses to the economy via other financial variables than the interest rate.

(5) There exists a great number of articles examining the topic under various assumptions; findings differ accordingly. Blanchard and fisher say that these complete macroeconomic models, unlike their predecessors from the 1960s and 1970s, attempt empirical relevance. They say further, that the phenomenon is not yet fully researched. (6) It is therefore very likely that findings from this paper will have to be revised in the not so far away future.

Group assignments: general conclusions

Text 6 Seminar: Decline ofBritish Power

Topic: Cultural Explanation for British Economic Decline no general conclusion

Text 10 Seminar: Marketing Topic: Distribution

SUMMARY

(1) Lehrkind's Coca Cola of Bozeman, Montana, is a producer-distributer company. We chose Lehrkind's because in order to report on distribution decisions, the firm is a very good example to look at. After processing the raw materials, the produced beverages are prepared for selling. This involves decisions about the right means of distribution in order to reach the consumer of the product as soon as possible. (2) Lehrkind's Distributing decided to use the trucks for obtaining this objective and has had very good experiences. Trucks provide highest accessibility and lowest cost in the area of Southwestern Montana, where different means of transportation are either not available at all or only at very high costs. In order to keep the time between producing and selling as short as possible, Lehrkind's uses two different sales systems: pre-sale and full-service. The products are delivered according to a very efficient routing system and reach the customers the day right after they made their orders.

(3) The content of this paper is the outcome of meetings with the sales manager of the firm, Don Coles, our participation in the delivery of the product by going on route with Lehrkind's drivers and by a market survey proving high customer satisfaction. (4) Some of our suggestions to improve this already efficient process were the installation of CB radios into the out-of-town trucks and providing the loader with routing sheets of the driver. Other alternatives like computer-aided routing turned out to be too expensive. (5) Our objective then was it to show that Lehrkind's efficiently applies the means of products in order to achieve highest customer satisfaction.

Appendix E - Rewritten Introductions

Text 13 Seminar: Canada - Language and Society

Topic: Morphology and Syntax of the English Language in Canada

I. Introduction

(1) According to popular knowledge, one of the main languages spoken in Canada is English. It is also fairly well known that there are differences between American and British English. The question might come up then, what kind of English is generally spoken in Canada: British, American or even Canadian?

Throughout Canadian history American and British influences have always been there. During the settlement period those "Americans" who backed the British in the American Revolution left the country for England, the West Indies or Canada. The latter settled in the area of today's Ontario where they had a great influence on the development of modern Canada, including the language.

Canada's membership in the British Commonwealth seems to support the notion that British English is the main variant spoken in this country. Its use was for a long time, and in some places still is today, associated with higher education and social status. It is also a means of NOT sounding American.

With North America often associated with the United States only, Canadians have every reason to set themselves apart. On the other hand, at Canadian schools and universities many American grammar- and textbooks, dictionaries etc. are used, and Canada is very much exposed to American television- and radio programs and the American print media.

The question remains what kind of English Canadians speak. (2) The above mentioned influences suggest that Canadian English carries both British and American characteristics with none dominating.

(3) Previous research in that area proposes that there is no such thing as Canadian English in the field of morphology and syntax. As Millard puts it: "The morphology and syntax of Canadian English is for all practical purposes identical to that of American English. At least some Canadians follow British practice..." And Görlach says: "Morphology is ... identical in British and American English. There are no features that could count as Canadianisms. The same is true in the field of syntax."

(4) In the following paper I attempt to analyze the English spoken in Canada in order to (5) quantitatively demonstrate the usage of features of British and American English and to (6) show that their unique combination makes up a third variety. (5) The analysis is based on that part of the Survey of Canadian English that is concerned with morphology and syntax ; as a part of our seminar it is also

(7) restricted, .to. thaï .area.

(8) Unlike in the fields of vocabulary and pronunciation, there are no distinctively Canadian-only patterns of word or text formation. They are in most cases either British or American but not one variety is used exclusively.

(9) The main part of the paper will show these findings in more detail after the methods have been explained in the beginning. Results are summarized in tables within the main part. Their verbal interpretation is included in the conclusion.

Text 14 Seminar: Literatures in English - Comparative Studies Topic: The Role ofNature inMidnight's Children

I. Introduction

(1) In his novel Midnight's Children Salman Rushdie dedicates one chapter completely and exclusively to nature. Although "natural" items like trees, lakes, animals and mountains do occur in other chapters, too, "The Sunderbans" is the only one in which he portraits nature as an uncivilized, uncolonized jungle - a conscious being representing nature in the sense of "the natural world as it exists without man or his civilisation."

(2) Rushdie, of Indian origin and a British citizen, implements his thoughts about the man-nature relationship in this one chapter of his 1981 novel, in which many problems of all aspects of life are fictionalised and incorporated in the story of Saleem's life. Due to his connections to the mothercountry and its former colony, his viewpoint is broadened and, in a way, it authorises his writing about the contrasts between colonial and pre-colonial concepts of nature. Although Indian nature has been colonised for a long time, Indian culture has a somewhat different approach to nature than Western culture does.

(3) My thesis, which I want to prove in this paper, is that (4) Rushdie portraits the pre-colonial concept of dangerous nature as opposed to the colonial one. The protagonist and his three followers, who represent the Western civilised culture, flee into the jungle and find themselves in a reversed situation: from hunter to hunted or, in a broader sense, from ruler to subject.

The Sunderbans - personified as a conscious being - have the power of destroying or refining the intruders depending on whether they are willing and able to learn the lessons it is teaching them.

(5) For the analysis of the role of nature in Midnight's Children I want to concentrate mainly on "The Sunderbans"-chapter as far as working with the text is concerned. In order to briefly show the influence of the jungle experience on Saleem and the episode's part in the story as a whole, I will have to look at the entire novel.

(6) I am going to discuss in part 2.1. the colonial and pre- or non-colonial concepts of nature. In part 2.2. I will then look into the chapter and with the help of the jungle lessons demonstrate the process of change in Saleem and the three boy-soldiers. I plan to show in part 2.3 relevance of the jungle experience for Saleem as well as for the reader outside the story. In conclusion I will summarise the results of the analysis and evaluate the paper with respect to whether it is suitable to prove my thesis and in how far the approach is relevant for or transferable to other post-colonial writers.

I. Introduction

(1) In perfect markets, i.e. in those that are marked (besides other characteristics) by complete information of all market participants, the prices for bank loans or insurances reflect the exact risk attached to each individual project. In the real world, however, information asymmetries exist. When someone is buying a car insurance, the insurer usually does not know the driving habits of that person as well as the driver does. Its records might show that inexperienced drivers are engaged in more crashes than experienced ones, but it is very hard to quantify the risk of each individual driver.

Insurance premiums are therefore set in such a way to reflect the average risk of a certain, e.g., age group. These rates can be too low for some reckless drivers but too high for some careful drivers. To the latter it might then become cheaper to forego insurance altogether. For the high risk drivers, paying the higher premium is still cheaper than not having an insurance at all. The insurer is then left with a higher percentage of risky drivers than before. If the company wants to raise the premiums in order to make up for the higher risk, some of the lower risk drivers will drop out, too. This process is called adverse selection.

(2) In the following paper I want to show the adverse selection effects on the credit market with the help of the Stiglitz and Weiss model of credit rationing. As on the insurance market the risk of the customer, here better of his or her project, is unknown to the bank but not the borrower. (3) The model shows the strategies the bank uses in order to avoid a pool of too many risky borrowers who can obtain loans at too low a rate. (4) The rational choice for the bank is to ration credit. This is a market equilibrium although demand for loans at the rate set by the bank exceeds its supply. (2) I will further use the model to show whether the interest rate is a reliable indicator for the influence of monetary impulses on the economy.

(5) The following section II of the paper is dealing in more detail with financial markets and the effects of information asymmetries. The Stiglitz and Weiss model will be explained mathematically and graphically in section III, implications close this chapter. Results are summarized in section IV.

(6) The arguments are based mainly on Blanchard and Fisher's "Financial Markets and Credit Rationing" from their Lectures on Macroeconomics. Papers on similar problems especially by Stiglitz and Weiss, Blinder and Stiglitz and Mankiw have been very helpful, too.

Group assignments: general introductions

Text 6 Seminar: Decline of British Power

Topic: Cultural Explanation for British Economic Decline

(I)

(1) There are many theories about British economic decline, which roots are supposed to be found over 100 years ago. (2) The cultural one we want to discuss here is often used when all other theories have failed. (3) In this paper we want to show why British power declined during the late 19th and early 20th century from the cultural point of view.

(4) The cliché about Britain says that it has an anti-industrial and pre-modern education system and is therefore internationally not competitive. The British Establishment is said to be tied in its traditions whose boundaries are very hard to leave by entrepreneurs. Businessmen traditionally have a low social prestige compared to the landed gentry and the aristocracy. Family firms were the major form of business organization, so there was no need for a professional training of future businessmen at universities, which delayed the introduction of science to business. Because of the industrial revolution the peasant class in Britain was destroyed; it shifted from the country to the cities a

century earlier than in the rest of Eastern Europe, America and Japan. Therefore Britain could not (5) method + increase its productivity in the 1940s by a shift of working potential as the others did. structure

(5) Part two of the following paper compares the educational and business systems of Great Britain and Germany in the late 19th and early 20th century. Part three is a comparison of economic policies

in Great Britain and the United States of America. Part four looks at the role of entrepreneurship in Great Britain and the final part deals with the question whether cultural factors are indeed vital in explaining British economic decline.

Text 10 Seminar: Marketing Topic: Distribution

I. INTRODUCTION: Distribution

(1) Distribution is the process of making products available to consumers when and where they want (1 ) topic to purchase them. (Pride/Ferrell p. 336) This process has an impact on the choices and decisions that generalisations a marketing manager makes every day. (2) As part of our course we wanted to study those (2) object

decisions of a marketing manager of a local company. Our object was to find out what exactly is included in "distribution", whether the company is working efficiently in that area and what could be done to improve efficiency further. (3) We chose Lehrkind's Coca Cola of Bozeman, MT, since as a producer-distributor company this business' success depends very much on proficient distribution.

(4) Lehrkind processes the raw materials and then prepares the produced beverages for selling.

This involves decisions about the right means of distribution in order to reach the consumer of the product as soon as possible. Lehrkind's Coca Cola is using trucks for obtaining this objective and has had very good experiences. Trucks provide highest accessibility and lowest cost in the area of Southwestern Montana, where different means of transportation are either not available at all or only at very high costs. In order to keep the time between producing and selling as short as possible,

Lehrkind's uses two different sales systems: pre-sale and full-service. The products are delivered according to a very efficient routing system and reach the customers the day right after they made their orders.

(5) The content of this paper is the outcome of meetings with the sales manager of the firm, Don Coles, our participation in the delivery of the product by going on route with Lehrkind's drivers and by a market survey proving high customer satisfaction. (6) Some of our suggestions to improve this already efficient process were the installation of CB radios into the out-of-town trucks and providing the loader with routing sheets of the driver. Other alternatives like computer-aided routing turned out to be too expensive.

(7) This presentation will consist of three sections. In the first section "distribution" will be introduced and applied to the case study of Lehrkind's Distributing. The second section deals with specific details of Lehrkind's operations. The third section examines Lehrkind's market, while (8) providing an understanding of distribution efficiencies within the company and solutions to some of their problems.

Appendix F - Rewritten Conclusions

Text 13 Seminar: Canada - Language and Society

Topic: Morphology and Syntax of the English Language in Canada

III. Conclusion

(1) The analysis of the earlier specified part of the Survey of Canadian English has shown that morphology and syntax of English spoken in Canada is a mixture of British and American English, older and modern variants, standard and non standard forms. It is a language in a process of change as any living tongue. Morphology and Syntax used by Canadians is not specifically Canadian, but the combination and the frequencies of all these various forms make up a language that can be given a name of its own - Canadian English.

(2) There are regional, age and gender differences, but we cannot say that the older generation prefers BE to AE, the eastern regions speak more modern than the westerns or that girls prefer the standard variant more than boys. In general, the parent’s generation uses the British English variants of the examples from the test more often than the American ones, mothers even a little more often than fathers. Students seem about to switch to the American variants, it is already dominating but only slightly. Boys appear to be somewhat faster than girls in that process. Due to the fairly high usage of BE by the parents the figures for the individual provinces indicate a slightly dominating usage of BE, except for Newfoundland where BE is used a lot more often than AE. British Columbia is the only state that has a higher figure for AE than for BE.

The older-modern version opposition shows the transition to the newer forms; parents still report in some cases a dominating usage of older forms, although a greater part of them prefers modern ones. The majority of students, though, does not use the old forms anymore. This is the case in all provinces.

In the standard-non standard category the standard versions are preferred in both generations but more so by the older one and also more by females. Quebec seems to be the province with the highest proportion of people using the standard variants.

The Canadian "eh" appears to be a recent invention since only students of all provinces reported to use it a lot, twice as much as their parents and girls quite a bit more than boys.

In Canada there is evidence for the disappearance of one variant of a word or phrase that used to have (or still has) two. The older - or that variant that is supposed to disappear according to Saphir's theory of drift to the "invariable word" - is used by the older generation slightly more often than by the younger, but the so called "surviving variant", which is also not always grammatically correct according to present grammar books, is used even less by both generations.

(3) These results, however, have to be regarded as rough tendencies. The analysis can’t be better than the data; the entire Survey of Canadian English, a questionnaire or any other figures in connection with the survey have not been available for this study. The results demonstrate nevertheless the general characteristics of the English spoken in Canada and demonstrate the direction of the development of the language.

Text 14 Seminar: Literatures in English - Comparative Studies Topic: The Role ofNature inMidnight's Children

III. Conclusion

(1) My analysis of the role of nature in Midnight's Children shows, that it - personified in the jungle (1 ) summary °f

- is able to give Saleem his memory back. On the other hand, it serves as a mirror for people of findings

Western culture in which they see, from the position of the victim, what they do to nature. At the

same time Rushdie is showing his readers the difference between powerful nature and powerful humans: While humans tend to destroy in order to get space for themselves, nature is allowing every species a certain amount of freedom to develop independently. The ability of the jungle to lead Saleem and his followers back to the moral and ethic values of their own culture, reminds the reader of the place of mankind's origin and our responsibilities towards our environment. Despite possessing the gift of intelligence, humans do not know everything; they can still learn from nature.

(2) In so far, I believe, I did prove my thesis, also with the help of the text in parts 2.1. and 2.2. (3)

I discussed the chapter's relevance within the novel only very briefly because it was not exactly part of my topic. Neither did I go into the particulars of style and techniques. This is mainly due to pressures in time.

(4) The approach I took in the analysis was basically a textual one with only a few references to the author’s biography or the historical events he describes. I do not regard it as readily transferable to the analysis of a work of every other post-colonial writer. A comparison between two cultures, however, is suitable for the discussion of works whose authors are familiar with more than just one culture, e.g. Rudyard Kipling.

IV. Conclusion

(1) As in the real-world insurance business, the capital market has developed institutions that specialize in acquiring very specific information on the riskiness of investors and their projects. Banks use non-price screening mechanisms such as collateral requirements to determine the chance of default. They provide incentives for borrowers not to default by making the availability of credit and the rate charged dependent on the borrower's previous credit record. All this is used to decrease the information asymmetries and to minimize the adverse selection effects of the allocation of credit. (3)

Still, credit rationing occurs. (4) It is an equilibrium state resulting from rational behavior of all market participants. The outcome is not always the first best choice or the socially desirable one. In those cases government intervention would help to restore market efficiency.

The form of contract is a factor in the credit rationing result. Those companies that can borrow at the open market (equity finance) do not have to face borrowing constraints; since their risk is observable it is reflected in the price of shares. Debt finance is more vulnerable to constraints in the size or quantity of loans because of information asymmetries concerning the riskiness of the project and the abilities of the investor.

The level of investment depends not only on the interest rate, as shown in section 3.3. It is also influenced by the availability of credit and by the borrower's previous performance. Monetary shocks can give impulses to the economy via other financial variables than the interest rate.

(5) There exists a great number of articles examining the topic under various assumptions; findings differ accordingly. Blanchard and Fisher say that these complete macroeconomic models, unlike their predecessors from the 1960s and 1970s, attempt empirical relevance. They say further, that the phenomenon is not yet fully researched. (6) It is therefore very likely that findings from this paper will have to be revised in the not so far away future.

Group assignments: general conclusions

Text 6 Seminar: Decline of British Power

Topic: Cultural Explanation for British Economic Decline no general conclusion

Text 10 Seminar: Marketing Topic: Distribution

SUMMARY

(1) Lehrkind's Coca Cola of Bozeman, Montana, is a producer-distributor company. It is bottling soft drinks and beer and delivers the products to the various super markets, restaurants and vending machines in the area, i.e. distribution is a vital component of their business.

(2) Our investigation of their distribution system has shown that Lehrkind's Coca Cola use trucks for delivery because of their cost effectiveness and efficiency. The company works with two different sales systems: pre-sale and full-service to make their products available to the customer when and where they want to purchase them. We studied the routing system by going on tour with the trucks and found hardly any way to improve it. Since it is a small company the loader usually know the route each truck is taking on every day of the week. However, sometimes mix ups occur and to avoid those we suggested to provide providing the loader with routing sheets of the driver. Further suggestions as the installation of CB radios into the out-of-town trucks or computer-aided routing were rejected sin.c.e. their

costs, a.r.e .hjähe.r. than, their, utility, for. th.e .co.m.p.any..

(3) Since we could find only little to improve the paper and our presentation are mainly a demonstration of a very efficient distribution system.

[...]


1 See Bibliography.

2 Weissberg, Robert and Suzanne Buker: Writing up Research - Experimental Research Report Writing for Students of English, Prentice Hall, Eaglewood Cliffs, NJ (1990).

3 Compare Table 2, last column.

Please note that papers 9-12 have been written in America where the demands slightly differ, also because of the subject.

5 They seem to imply that at this university the emphasis is placed nearly entirely on the content, also evident from the scarce comments on

format and writing in general in the returned papers. For such a conclusion, however, the data is not representative. Additionally, the study does not, for example, take into account the changing education standards at schools and universities due to the political changes in the country.

6 Papers 11, 15, 16.

7 "Varieties of American English" is a Hauptseminar; I just took it earlier.

8 All italics added.

9 Fairbairn and Winch (1991) did not include advice on introductions in their guide.

10 All examples are taken from the original versions of my papers unless otherwise stated; see Appendices C and D.

11 The problem of coherence has been researched by Friederike Lange as part of this entire study on academic writing.

12 Instructors of papers 14 and 15 for these papers and instructor of paper 16 for the following paper, after paper 16 was handed in. See Appendix A for details.

13 This is also valid for section 3.3. (Conclusions). See Appendices C and D for examples.

14 Paper 14.

15 There is also too little data for a correlation analysis.

16 SeeAppendixA.

17 Papers 14 and 15; see Appendix A.

18 The text is taken from the rewritten versions; see Appendices E and F.

19 The text is taken from the rewritten versions; see Appendix F.

20 See table B1. Papers written in America have to be excluded do draw this conclusion, because demands slightly differed there and accordingly did style and quality of my papers.

21 Under the same outside conditions, in this case at the same university.

22 Please check Appendices C to F for details.

23 From what I learned from this professor, an executive summary is like an abstract to the paper. It needs to contain all information from the paper on one or two pages since a busy marketing manager does not have the time to go through the whole report to find the answers he is looking for.

Details

Pages
41
Year
1997
ISBN (Book)
9783640112326
File size
660 KB
Language
English
Catalog Number
v103328
Institution / College
Martin Luther University
Grade
Tags
Academic Writing Student Term Papers Structure Introductions Conclusions Seminar Discourse

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Title: Academic Writing - Student Term Papers - Structure, Introductions, Conclusions