“Tiny details, imperceptible to us, decide everything!” ― W.G. Sebald
What Are Research Details?
Remember, an essay is really just a conversation. It, first and foremost, is a conversation between the essayist and the reader. But it is also a conversation between the essay writer and all of the scientists, authors, journalists, authorities and other experts that he quotes, paraphrases or otherwise brings into the paper.
Essays are filled with information, proof and evidence that the writer finds through reading and research and presents in order to make or prove a point. We call this element of the essay the research detail. Once presented, the essayist will then make sense of it through interpretation, commentary, agreement, disagreement and good ol’ fashioned explanation. This takes place during the interpretation portion of the response and this will be discussed later.
The research detail is any proof or evidence that you use to make a point or to provide an example to support your main idea or thesis. The research detail can be directly quoted or paraphrased, and always needs to be properly cited.
The research detail can be a statistic, a quote from a piece of literature or an important scientific fact. It can be the results found in a survey, an anecdote, a line from a poem or any other form of evidence the essayist wishes to include in order to propel his point or argument.
Simply put, the research detail provides textual proof for an assertion you are making. It is the “text” in a text-based argument. In the essaypop system, research details are always highlighted in light green.
Research Detail Sentence Starters
Introducing research details into an essay takes a little practice to master. After the thesis statement, if the writer drops a research detail into a paragraph too abruptly, it will come across as jarring and disconnected from the rest of the paper. The reader will not be prepared for it. The sentence starters that EssayPop provides help the writer to smoothly transition into the research detail with a number of different phrases.
Such phrases as, “X states”, “This is illustrated in the following quote” and “According to X”, help prepare the reader to absorb and appreciate the evidence the essayist is presenting. These phrases act as transitional bridges and allow the writer to give credit (also known as attribution) to whomever is being quoted. Accessing the list of sentence starters is easily done by activating the drop down window where all sorts of sentence starter categories will appear. The writer simply chooses the phrase she would like to use and it appears in the research detail writing field.
Stacking, Alternating and Delaying Research Details
Research details can essentially be placed, organized, arranged and rearranged as creatively and as often as the essay writer pleases. Of course the most basic method in a short response is to place the research detail directly after the bridge, then follow it with an interpretation. You can write a perfectly good response this way and, in fact, that is the default setup in essaypop.
Stacking Research Details
You have the option of stacking research details. In this scenario, you might stack two,three or four research details on top of each other, introducing each one with a transitional phrase or bridge. This works well with expository and argumentative responses where you are trying to really paint a clear picture by providing ample information and evidence.
Stacking research details also creates a certain rhythm to the writing that can be pleasing to the reader. It also shows that you have a command of the information you are presenting which makes you, as an essayist, appear confident, convincing and persuasive.
To stack research details simply go to the action icon located in the upper-right corner of the writing frame, and add as many research details as you would like. Once you create your stack, you can then arrange and rearrange them, simply by grabbing the writing-frame handle and moving the boxes around. Model 3, which follows, uses stacked research details.
Alternating Research Details
You also may wish to alternate research details and interpretations. With this method you would present a research detail, comment on or explain it in your own words, then present another research detail and explain it in your second interpretation. This creates a different type of effect and rhythm within the writing. The method works well with any type of response, but works particularly well when you want to address each detail one piece at a time. And, again, you can arrange all of this as you please with the writing-frame handles. Model 5, which follows, uses alternating research details.
Delaying Research Details
You may also opt to write a commentary or interpretation directly following the thesis statement instead of beginning with the traditional research detail. When your comments are completed, then you can add research details that support your interpretation. This is perfectly acceptable and easy to set up using the action icon and the writing-frame handle. Delaying the evidence until the second half of the response creates a different rhythm and overall effect and works with all types of writing. Model 6, which follows, uses a delayed research detail.
Short Response Research Detail Models
Type of essay: short response / response to literature
The prompt: In Denise Levertov’s poem, “Moon Tiger”, what is the moon tiger really? Use textual evidence to justify your answer.
…In her poem, “Moon Tiger”, Denise Levertov provides the reader with some some very interesting clues as to the the true and literal identity of the work’s creeping tiger. Consider the following lines from the poem: “Look. Its white stripes/ In the light that slid/ Through the jalousies”. Levertov is inviting us to pay close attention to…
- Research Detail: Beginning with the phrase, “Consider the following…”, this is a very conventional way to introduce a quote from a poem. Notice that each line break is indicated with a forward slash mark.
Type of essay: Expository / Argument
The prompt: We just read the Atlantic Monthly article, “How Two Common Medications Became One $455 Million Specialty Pill” by Marshall Allen. In a 300-500 word short essay, discuss whether you believe the Horizon Pharmaceutical Company is justified in selling the drug Vimovo at the price that they do.
…Marshall Allen’s Atlantic monthly article, “How Two Common Medications Became One $455 Million Specialty Pill” brings up two fairly balanced perspectives regarding the cost of their drug, Vimovo. After careful consideration, however, it seems clear that there is no way to justify this company charging such exorbitant prices for this drug. It seems that Horizon simply takes two very common medications, a pain reliever and a stomach-upset medicine, and combines them into one pill, because pain relievers cause some people stomach discomfort. Not a bad idea I guess, but at what cost? “Of course I did the math”, says the Allen. “You can walk into your local drugstore and buy a month’s supply of Aleve and Nexium for about $40. For Vimovo, the pharmacy billed my insurance company $3,252.” This is a staggering markup in price. And what’s worse is…
- Research Detail: The first part of the research detail is paraphrased information that provides context for a reader who may not know what this medicine is. Sometimes it is important to paraphrase information that the reader are aware of, but your reader may not be aware of, so he doesn’t become lost or confused. It’s also good to do when you’re talking about complex or technical material. The second part of the research is a direct quote that provides a startling statistic. It is properly cited and transitions nicely into the interpretation.
Type of essay: University of California Application / Personal Insight Question / personal narrative.
The prompt: What have you done to make your school or your community a better place? Limit: 350 words.
…More than any other endeavor in my life, my role in rejuvenating our school’s Bridges Mentorship Club has has allowed me to give back to my school in ways that have been both meaningful to others and personally satisfying. Eagle Rock serves grades 7 through 10 school, and some of our most at-risk students are our middle-schoolers. Bridges matches these kids with upperclassmen who guide these students through the rigors of the secondary school experience. It was a club that was supported by a federal grant for many years, but that grant expired, and the club began to dwindle. Without a budget and a teacher-mentor, Bridges lost its way. My group searched for and found a mentor, developed a fundraising strategy, recruited upperclassmen mentors and crafted lesson plans that would engage our at-risk, middle school population. We created a mentoring schedule that had to accommodate the calendars of teachers, administration and the mentees themselves. In time, we got the program up and running again, and even exceeded our own expectations in doing so. In bringing back Bridges, we brought back a support system for our…
This is an example of a response with stacked research details.
- Research Detail 1: The first research detail features pertinent information about the club’s purpose and demise due to lack of funding. The source of this “research” is the essay writer herself who is, as a founding club member, qualified to present the factual information and give personal accounts, and,yes, it counts as research.
- Research Detail 2: The second research detail gets into the writer and her group’s specific accomplishments. Again, because this is a personal narrative, the research features her own recollections which is perfectly acceptable for this type of writing.
Type of essay: expository/ argument
The prompt: Based on the documents we reviewed in class today that assign blame for the Titanic tragedy to several different individuals, who, in your opinion, is most responsible for the sinking of the RMS Titanic and the deaths of over 1,500 passengers?
…Certainly, many people played a role in the tragedy, but one person seems more culpable than all the others. Based on the documents we have reviewed, it seems clear that Captain Edward J. Smith is the individual most responsible for the sinking of the Titanic and the deaths of all of those unfortunate passengers. Robert Ballard, who is considered one the most-renowned Titanic experts, confirms this in his research. Consider the following evidence taken from Ballard’s “Exploring the Titanic”: “In all Captain Smith received seven ice warnings the afternoon and evening of the disaster. Of those, only 3 were posted for anyone to see.” (367) Ignoring this many ice warnings just seems like a recipe for disaster. To use a car/driver analogy, this would be…
- Research Detail: Some context regarding who Robert Ballard is is provided prior to the quote. The phrase, “Consider the following evidence…” was taken from the sentence starter menu and helps to smoothly transition into the quote itself. The quote is parenthetically cited in accordance with MLA citation requirements.
Type of essay: research/expository
The prompt: We have reviewed a number of articles about the of the planet’s more interesting and unusual animals. In a text- evidence-based response (300-400 words), explain why you find one of these creatures to be the most intriguing. You have 35 minutes to complete this assignment.
…If pressed to select the single animal that I find the most interesting, however, I would have to contend that jellyfish are quite simply one of the strangest and most unusual creatures on the planet. Scientists have discovered a number of examples of this fact. According to the highly regarded marine biologist, Edwin Kantor, “The largest jellyfish species, the lion’s mane jellyfish (Cyanea capillata), can have tentacles that extend longer than a blue whale, the largest mammal on Earth.” (67) It is difficult to fathom how large this really is. If you placed this fellow on the top of a ten-story building , the tips of his tentacles would still touch the sidewalk. Imagine how effectively a creature with such a “wingspan” could hunt. He certainly must be a fearsome predator. And the the weirdness doesn’t stop there. Consider the following : “The immortal jellyfish (Turritopsis dohrnii) ages like Benjamin Button – when a crisis like starvation presents itself, the jellyfish’s cells transform and revert to their earliest form, a polyp, making this type of jellyfish potentially immortal.” (Simmons 254) Again, it is no surprise that…
This is an example of a response with alternating research details.
- Research Details 1 and 2: Both quotes are taken from marine scientists which gives the paper an air of informed trustworthiness. The quotes are both parenthetically cited in accordance with MLA citation requirements. They are separated by an interpretation by the essay writer, which a perfectly acceptable way to go. Remember, you can stack research details or you can alternate them as you please. You can also arrange and rearrange them simply by grabbing the writing frame handle and moving the box to its new location.
This is an example of a response with a delayed research detail.
Type of essay: persuasive/ argument
The prompt: Our school’s administration announced recently that they are considering instituting a school dress code at Marshall High School. Based on your understanding of the rights granted U.S. citizens in the Constitution, do you feel such a policy would is advisable, ethical or even legal? Your response should be 250-350 words in length and contain some researched evidence. It is due at the start of class tomorrow.
…I hate to break it to these conservative “crushers-of-young-folks’-spirits”, but a mandated dress code at our school is a flagrant violation of young people’s’ civil rights. Our forefathers did not intend to have any American citizen’s right to reasonably express him or herself taken away by anybody at any time, no matter their age. This constitutional protection allows us to speak out against politicians who we disagree with. It allows us to write articles that might be controversial or even offensive to some. And it certainly extends to students who might want to wear some loose-fitting jeans or a punk-rock tee shirt. Expressing one’s style, politics or ideas with one’s choice of clothing is no different than doing so with words spoken aloud or written down on paper. Afterall, The First Amendment of our United States Constitution states that “Congress cannot pass laws abridging the freedom of speech.” Additionally, Lee Rowland of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Nevada branch reminds us that “in conflict with the First Amendment, school uniform policies create instead an environment of sterilized uniformity scrubbed of the diversity so prized by our founding fathers. (238) So, if the adult leadership of our school is serious about…
- The phrase “after all” is a nice transitional element that helps move smoothly into the evidence. The research detail itself is short and sweet, citing the first amendment of the Constitution beginning with the sentence starter* “states that”. The source is not cited because the existent of this document is considered common knowledge.
- The transitional word, “additionally” helps the writer move directly, but smoothly, into the second research detail. Rowlands quote is relevant as it not only brings up the first amendment, but mentions the “sterilized uniformity” that the essayist is speaking out against.