Reflections on Research Based Writing Essay

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If we understand library users as “readers who write,” we should reflect on when and why they write. Generally, most users in academic libraries engage in writing based on research or “research based writing.” How are we to understand this particular genre that consumes so many users’ time and instructors’ assessment.

Consider first what research based writing is not. It is not creative writing, although creative writers will often research some aspect of their subject. It is not journalistic writing, although the journalist makes steady use of sources. It is not writing for publication, since it seldom finds an audience of more than five. It is not an essay, although it has a beginning, middle, and end. Eliminating these options, what
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The author’s opinions will be based on reasons and evidence, not emotions or hearsay. The author’s reasoning will follow the principles of Western reasoning, if only informally. The evidence used will have a logical link to the reasons they support. Evidence itself will be a verifiable “fact.”

Furthermore, research based writing seeks a plausible (not conclusive) answer to a question of interest to the readers. The overarching purpose for writing is to show why the reader should accept that answer. This includes acknowledging and responding to possible alternative answers to the question. Others’ ideas are used to find or support claims, reasons, or evidence—but cannot to be presented as the writer’s own. Even though the writer may come to the same conclusion as others who have addressed the issue before, he or she must present the answer and its supporting reasons as the product of an one’s own investigation, being careful to acknowledge when and how others’ contributions have been utilized. The reader expects to see all this written in standard edited English with few (or no) errors in spelling, grammar, or punctuation.

Often research based writing is a solitary exercise. For non-academics and many librarians, research based writing has been rarely practiced outside the classroom, and many of the processes may not be familiar or practiced only informally. It requires a basic skill set that new students may have learned at

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