Revision, Reputation, and Relaxation

Hey everyone! It is time yet again to impart some Craft of Research wisdom upon you, and this time it is all about drafting and citations:


“Most writers work best when they draft quickly, revise carefully, and toss what’s irrelevant. But draft in any way that works for you” (187-188).

For me, I was never much of a drafter; I would write up a short outline to follow while writing my essay in one night, and just hand it in the next day. Honestly, I never saw a problem with doing this because I never got bad grades on my assignments and I think that short outlines benefit me more than a draft of a paper that I have to go through and revise. Since we have been using the drafting process in my capstone class, I have been struggling a bit, but I have convinced myself while writing it to believe that my draft is my final paper and that the short outline is all I have to do to prepare for it . . . whatever works, right?


“Citations protect you from a charge from plagiarism, but beyond that narrow self-interest, correct citations contribute to your ethos” (195).

I have always heard from my teachers to constantly cite so that I don’t get accused of plagiarism which is true, but the fact that it adds to your credibility as a writer is sometimes looked over. I think that instead of looking at citing sources as a pain in the behind, they should be looked at as ways to show your readers that you are knowledgeable and that other more reputable sources than a senior college student think the same way which actually is pretty cool!


“If you’re stuck but have time . . . let your subconscious work on the problem while you do something else for a day or two” (199).

Like I mentioned earlier, I like to write my entire paper in one day and hand it in the next and suffer in silence when I get stuck in my writing. After reading this, I have realized that I really should give myself more time to get work done and work through writer’s block rather than face it head on because that is super frustrating. My mom always tells me to walk away from the problem and relax a little but I never do . . . I guess moms really do know best.



Until next time.


explore. muse. create.



Booth, Wayne C., Gregory G. Colomb, and Joseph M. Williams. The Craft of Research. Third ed. Chicago: U of Chicago, 2008. Print.

GIF: WordPress


Fiction Is More Than You Think

In 2013, Lee Siegel wrote an article for The New Yorker about how useful literature can actually be for students to study. In this article, he discussed two closely related studies that measured the participant’s level of empathy after reading literary fiction and the results were reassuring to those that advocate for the teaching of fiction in schools: fiction heightens empathy levels of those that read literary fiction over those that read non-fiction. By proving this, Siegel says, the Common Core Standards that are now being advocated by schools throughout the country are challenged, showing that just reading non-fiction and things like bus/train schedules will not make the student a well-rounded individual.

I thought that this idea is extremely true and only confirms what I have been thinking for a long time: that fiction helps strengthen an individual’s mind. In my studies as an English major, I have not been subjected to reading copious amounts of non-fiction; most of my studies have involved reading fiction and then drawing my own conclusions from it, reading between the lines to get to the deeper meaning of the text. I think that with non-fiction, you lose that personal connection that fiction provides you with. It puts you at arm’s length, making you unable to interpret and connect to the piece of literature . . . and that’s sad :(.

Later on in the article Siegel becomes a sort of devil’s advocate, stating that empathy does not mean sympathy, but he eventually confirms that fiction does indeed enhance the imagination, becoming a tool for people to profit from it intellectually and emotionally. In my experience, fiction has definitely been a way for me to escape from the real world which some would say is not good or even dangerous. I disagree; I think that this type of outlet is important for students, especially those much younger than me, so that they are able to become creative individuals. That creativity can be applied in places such as the workplace, school, and life when making decisions or coming up with new ideas.

So what I say is this: go out and buy some literary fiction. Escape into a world that may not be real but in the end, teaches you valuable lessons. Not everything has to be numbers and charts; there is always room for a little imagination. Grab a book, or two, or three, and start reading . . . who knows what you will discover!



Until next time.


explore. muse. create.




Check out Siegel’s article here!

Siegel, Lee. “Should Literature Be Useful?” The New Yorker. Condé Nast, 06 Nov. 2013. Web. 23 Feb. 2016. <;.

GIF: Tumblr

Goodbye Plagiarism, Hello Proper Citation

Now that we are focusing on secondary research for our capstone projects in class, attention to reputable sources and the potential for plagiarism is a hot topic. For class, we read an article entitled “Sandra Jamieson and Rebecca Moore Howard: Unraveling the Citation Trail” which is an interview with Jamieson and Moore about a study they conducted on student essays in regards to plagiarism and paraphrasing. Some of their findings were astounding, but there are definitely a few valuable pieces of advice that can be taken away from the interview:


“We felt—based on our classroom experience!—that what underlay much of what was being interpreted as plagiarism was not based in students’ ethical choices, but rather in their practices and skills in source-based writing.”

I think that this is an extremely valid observation. I know that some cases of plagiarism have been completely unintentional and a result of a lack of proper paraphrasing techniques. As students, we are told that proof strengthens your argument, but I think that some students take that too literally and re-word sources rather than use them as a guide and building off of that to form their own ideas.


“. . . instructors and librarians should teach, at every opportunity, methods of good source selection. This has to start not with ‘a journal is better than a Website’ but with ‘here’s how you identify the bibliographic elements of a text.’”

This is exactly what my instructor has been doing for us since we started our secondary research search. By having and instructor that is willing to work with the students to find the best sources, that instructor is doing his/her job correctly. I know that by being taught this, my research has been better guided for my capstone paper and I have been able to find reputable sources that can only enrich my argument more than it already is.


Until next time.


explore. muse. create.



Check out the article here!

“Unraveling the Citation Trail,” Project Information Literacy Smart Talk, no. 8, Sandra Jamieson and Rebecca Moore Howard, The Citation Project, August 15, 2011.

(Citation courtesy of Project Information Literacy)


“How long has it been,” you ask. “How long has it been since I was enlightened by The Craft of Research’s words of wisdom?” Well, you’re in luck. Because here, before you, are not one, but TWO quotes from Booth, Colomb, and Williams! These quotes discuss not only finding sources for a research argument, but also how to utilize that research in an engaging way.

giphy(I’m assuming that this is how you are feeling now that your boys are back)


“If you can read, read important sources twice” (87).

This goes for any source that you would use in any type of paper. I know that for me, when I read something once, I barely retain any of the important information; I really just try to find the basic ideas of the reading. By looking over it a second time, you can find the smaller details and the finer arguments that are worth exploring further and expanding upon or refuting in your argument.


“The logic of a research argument is rarely original. Readers will look for originality in your problem, claim, and evidence” (93).

I never really thought about this until I read it in the book but now that I have, I think it is a completely legitimate statement to make. I know that for my capstone paper, I am looking at a theme that is not that original: gender in fairy tales. But what I am exploring and claiming about gender and the view that I am looking at the problem from is what (I hope) is original. The claims that I am making about modern versions of fairy tales in regards to gender are different than what is out there in the research world currently.


Until next time.


explore. muse. create.



Booth, Wayne C., Gregory G. Colomb, and Joseph M. Williams. The Craft of Research. Third ed. Chicago: U of Chicago, 2008. Print.

GIF: Giphy

So, Why DO the Liberal Arts Matter?

I think that is an extremely valid question that has been on the minds of many recent or potential college graduates who chose to go to a liberal arts school. I know that for me, it is a question that I grapple with whenever I am reminded that I am about to graduate in less than three months. Not only is that a scary thought, but it also makes me think, “what did I learn in my education that can apply to my future?” As Fareed Zakaria writes in his article “Why the Liberal Arts Matter,” he emphasizes the importance of its versatility. In almost every career you work in, you will be expected to write, speak your opinions, and continue your education through your work experiences. According to Zakaria, this is exactly what a liberal arts education does . . . and I wholeheartedly agree.

While it might be frowned upon by many, a liberal arts education sets those who have one apart from those who went to a specialized school. While there is nothing wrong with going to a place where what you study is exactly what you will be doing for the rest of your lives, a liberal education is diverse and teaches a person how to react in all types of situations and careers, not just one. With a liberal arts education, you can capitalize on so many different careers and so many opportunities that you would probably have never been offered had you not gotten one.

Zakaria mentions that writing “forces you to make choices and it brings clarity and order to your ideas.” Since I am currently in the process of revising my primary analysis, I will definitely keep this in mind as I read over it and make corrections. It is important to have a clear idea when writing a paper because then your readers will have an easier time reading and understanding your point of view. Thanks to my liberal arts education, I know that I can accomplish this.



Until next time.


explore. muse. create.



Here’s the link so you can check out the article as well as his full speech!

Zakaria, Fareed. “Why the Liberal Arts Matter.” Fareed Zakaria GPS. CNN, 24 May 2014. Web. 15 Feb. 2016. <>.

Image: The Odyssey Online

It’s More Than Just a Story…

For tomorrow’s class, I had the choice to read one of two articles about what exactly literature is. I chose to look at Johnathan Culler’s “What is Literature and Does It Matter?” mainly because it had an attractive font and some pictures and really, who doesn’t like some pictures in their assigned reading? Anyway, Culler obviously discusses what literature actually is in his article but what he says it actually is is quite interesting. Basically, literature can’t be defined with one single sentence or with a few words; there are so many aspects of literature and what it can do that a definition just won’t work.

I know what you’re thinking: “Well thanks Elise for enlightening me with this abundance of knowledge that I will now take with me everywhere I go.”

And you were probably sitting there while you read that looking like this:

ywlvg (1)

But honestly, the concept of literature is so complex that it just can’t be done. Culler does explain, however, how over time, the nature of literature has been expressed by many people in many ways. Whether in its literal sense of a work of fiction; or how it can be considered as a tool to help readers ponder how strange language actually is; or how it is around to make readers self-reflect, literature takes many forms. What surprised me the most was Culler’s comparison between literature and history, and how history is like a literary narrative in the way the “story” has a plot, connecting the initial situation, the development, and the outcome together in a way that makes sense (Culler). I found this to be a very interesting way to look at history and how the events that occurred started from one or two small instances.

How this is going to relate in any way to my primary analysis, I have no idea. I guess in a way, I am trying to figure out the paradox of literature, which Culler mentions this as literature being  “an institution that lives by exposing and criticizing its own limits, by testing what will happen if one writes differently,” through my findings. Through the primary texts that I am looking at for my capstone project, I am trying to deduce what parts can be criticized from the stance that I am taking and which of those parts would be integral to supporting my main idea.


Until next time.


explore. muse. create.



And look at that! A new source! WHAT??

Culler, Jonathan. “What Is Literature and Does It Matter?” Literary Theory: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1997. 18-41. Print.

GIF: created on

Killing Two Birds with One Stone or, Tackling Two Assignments in One Post

Have you been lost without my pearls of wisdom for the past few days? Are you looking for more quotes to fill up your lackluster life to make it a bit more interesting? Well look no further! Here I am, again, to give you more quotes from not one, but two, books! WHAT?!?! That’s right, here are a few more quotes from The Craft of Research focusing on the drafting process and from Getting from College to Career about finding a job! Because really, who doesn’t like to discuss the inevitability of an uncertain future?



“Do not organize your report as a narrative of your thinking . . . Do not assemble your report as a patchwork of your sources . . . Do not map you report directly on to the language of your assignment” (177-178).

Here, Booth, Colomb, and Williams give pointers on how not to organize a huge report. I found these tips quite useful because I know that echoing the language of the assignment that you are given is a way to prove to your teacher that you know what you are talking about and that you want to sound smart. Fortunately for me, my capstone paper does not have a set topic from a teacher; I was able to pick my topic on my own. All of these tips are crucial to remember when putting together a paper.

“Create a page for each major section of your report” (182).

I honestly never thought to do this for a longer paper. I have done a version of this where I bolded section headings like in my capstone primary analysis, but I have never started a new page for each topic. I think that this would be very helpful for me to try to utilize when drafting my final capstone paper so that I can visualize the move from one topic to another and to get me focused on one topic at a time.


College to Career:

“Your first job isn’t the end-all, be-all. You should try some things out, and don’t be afraid to admit that something might not be right for you” (86). – Danielle Calnon Martin

I can’t tell you how much I am dreading the job search and how worried I am about finding the job that is “the one” right off the bat. Reading this quote helps me realize that I am not in the same boat and that it is entirely okay if my first job won’t work out. It’s not the end of the world (even though I probably will feel that way if that happens) and by seeing that, I feel like I will be able to open myself up to more job opportunities.

“Understand and promote your brand. Your personal brand tells a prospective employer what you can offer them that is unique and valuable. Be able to articulate what makes you distinctive professionally and personally in thirty seconds” (92). – Holly Paul

I have also worried a ton about being a prospective employee that is just like every other applicant and that all of those applicants have the same special skills that I have. Apparently, I worry way too much. To me, this reinforces the fact that I do have skills and experiences that set me apart from other applicants and that I just need to put those right up front so that my prospective employer can see how wonderful I am.


(this is how I really feel about the future)


Until next time.


explore. muse. create.



Annnnnnnndddd here are the sources . . . again:

Booth, Wayne C., Gregory G. Colomb, and Joseph M. Williams. The Craft of Research. Third ed. Chicago: U of Chicago, 2008. Print.

Pollak, Lindsey. Getting from College to Career. Revised ed. New York: HarperCollins, 2012. Print.

GIF: Tumblr

So Many Quotes, So Little Time

Hey there! I’m back again with some more fabulous quotes from the even more fabulous book, The Craft of Research by Booth, Colomb, and Williams. At this point, if you don’t already, you should have already bought this book and have it at the ready with the amount of times I have referenced it in the few blog posts I have so far. This time, I’m bringing you some tidbits of knowledge about making claims and supporting them with evidence. And, (drumroll) here they are:


“No thoughtful reader will accept your claim based solely on your views: you must also address theirs” (112).

This is an extremely important concept to grasp when writing a paper. It re-emphasizes the fact that as a writer, you have to know who your audience is and figure out why in the world they would actually want to read what you are writing and claiming to be the truth. By addressing their views on the subject, you are both appeasing the reader and covering all of your bases so that nothing new can be thrown your way.


“In the long run, the ethos you project in individual arguments hardens into your reputation . . . your reputation is the tacit sixth element in every argument you write. It answers the unspoken question, Can I trust you? That answer must be  Yes” (117-118).

Without this type of reputation, you will probably never have anyone read anything about your work, let alone care about what you have to say, no matter how earth-shattering it might be. You have to act as a trustworthy guide to your readers so that whatever you say in your argument is holy and nothing could ever refute any of your claims, even if you say that cars run on cupcakes and marshmallows; if you have a fantastic reputation, then every one of your readers will agree with the fact that sweet treats fuel cars.


“Even if you offer lots of evidence, your readers still expect it to be  representative of the full range of variation in what’s available” (138).

At this point, I feel like this is something that I will always be thinking about when writing my capstone paper. Simply put, any evidence that I put out there to support my argument has to cover all of the bases of support for it and arguments against it. Without presenting my readers with this information, I would be robbing them of information and thus, myself of a well-developed essay.


Until next time.


explore. muse. create.



So you still haven’t gotten this book yet? Really? This is the last time I will be putting this on here, so you better get it now! (But it really won’t be because I have to cite it for my class, so don’t worry . . . but you better buy it soon.)

Booth, Wayne C., Gregory G. Colomb, and Joseph M. Williams. The Craft of Research. Third ed. Chicago: U of Chicago, 2008. Print.