Customer Reviews: The Craft of Research, Third Edition (Chicago Guides to Writing, Editing, and Publishing)
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on July 17, 2008
Although there are many books on writing research or term papers, I have not found anything else which brings together material on planning, reasoning and writing the research paper as well as this book. Ignore any reviewers who make this book out to be a simplistic text. It is an excellent work on well reasoned writing that even most graduate students can benefit greatly from reading. As a professor of a graduate class on Research and Writing, I have recommended and required this book for several years. The book guides the reader from an idea of a topic, to defining a question, to formulating the conceptually signifcant research problem. It briefly covers finding, evaluating and using primary, secondary, and tertiary sources. Then a major portion of the book is devoted to understanding effective reasoning in the writing process. This is based quite a bit on professor Stephen Toulmin's practical approach to effective reasoning and argumentation. The Craft of Research diagrams and explains claims, reasons, evidence and warrants. It has detailed illustrations of warrants and when to use them, as well as how to challenge them. The book has other sections on organizing, drafting,and revising a paper. It also has a chapter on communicating information visually using tables, graphs and charts. Rather than focusing on the simple mechanics or obvious steps in writing a serious research paper, this book concentrates on the more difficult tasks of clearly defining the conceptual problem and addressing it with in depth, effective reasoning.
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on September 27, 2001
I used this book as the text for a freshman-sophomore course, Introduction to Christian Academics. It is very clearly written, and the information it presents will help anyone understand what they are reading. It is not just for people writing dissertations. To understand and to be able to analyze what you read, you need to know how arguments are constructed -- what constitutes evidence, what are the steps of reasoning, what is the role of the warrant of an argument. My students liked the book a lot. We later used it as a reference in a graduate course. It was worthwhile there, too. This book is one of the half dozen or so that belong on the desk of every person who is serious about what he reads and about what he writes.
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on June 13, 2000
This is a great book on writing a research report, useful for both beginners and seasoned researchers. It walks you through all the phases of your research project, starting from picking up your topic, through the actual research, note-taking, to writing up your findings, down to sentence level structure and style. For me a most useful part of the book was the beginning: finding a topic, defining your research problem, qualifying it, and determining your warrants; especially revealing was the relationship between your research problem and a wider body of theory, and how you must be explicit about your "warrants" to make a real contribution to "knowledge" or to "solving a practical problem." Even though I had read many other books on writing such as "The Clockwork Muse" or "Writing Your Dissertation in 15 Minutes a Day" none was as explicit as this one on how to combine both Research and Writing (the other books assume that writing a research project entails a progressive, smooth process: you pick a topic, you research it, and you write up your conclusions/findings), nothing farther from the truth; as I learned from painful experience and as was made explicit by this book, to my relief, a research project is a dynamic process in which research and writing go together; they complement and reinforce each other. This book teaches you just how to do this and it was the greatest lesson I learned.
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on July 24, 2008
I read this book about a month before I submitted my dissertation (in U.S. history) and it convinced me to completely rewrite my introduction. That experience left me kicking myself for thinking I was too advanced for these sorts of guides and for not consulting this book earlier. The sections on formulating a topic (how to turn a general interest into a question/problem to be researched) and warrants (how to match claims to evidence) are especially helpful. Make no mistake about it, this book can help researchers at all levels, and I have had many students, both undergraduate and graduate, tell me how happy they were that they took my advice to read this book.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon September 20, 2008
We all respect scientists--even budding science students--for their commitment to accuracy and objectivity. Sometimes our strengths are also our weaknesses. Beginning scientists can naively believe that their writing only needs to report the facts, that anything further is bias, sophistry or even dishonesty. This book lays out the path to a better writing style. Readers will learn how to arrange and present their facts and evidence as coherent arguments. As a result, they will better serve their own readers.

The table of contents, outlined below, shows that the authors cover more than putting fingers to keyboard. Introductory chapters discuss the perspective and information needs of readers and how to connect with them. The authors address development of one's own authentic authorial "voice"--a topic often neglected in books about research writing. The next four chapters teach us how to conceptualize a research question, then find relevant and credible sources of information to answer it. The third edition contains a needed revision of the authors' earlier avoidant stance on the credibility of web-based information, containing good guidance for weeding flakey from factual online sources.

Chapter 7, "Making Good Arguments: An Overview," is the keystone chapter and a relatively quick read at eleven pages. It's where to focus when deciding whether to read the rest of the book. The authors define their working vocabulary of arguments, reasons, evidence, claims and warrants. In this and the following four chapters they show us how to use these concepts to present our points and how to acknowledge and respond to positions with which we disagree. They demonstrate how to do this with integrity as well as skill.

The final six chapters address the actual writing of a research report. Much of the advice on planning, drafting and revising is standard and consistent with other writing guides. Some, such as advice on graphical presentation of data, is an overview of information covered more thoroughly in other books (e.g., Tufte's Envisioning Information). But there is also a great deal of guidance on revising and fine-tuning arguments that is unique to these authors and their framework of written arguments. The closing chapter on style will help writers create clear and understandable structure while following their own authorial style. Recognizing they have presented only an introductory measure of what good writers need to know, the authors close with a comprehensive bibliography of readings, both online and in print.

This book, thoughtfully read and put into practice, is as good as a course in professional writing. Read it, underline in it, bend back the page corners, and keep it nearby when you write your next report.


Brief Table of Contents

I. Research, Researchers and Readers
- 1. Thinking in Print: The uses of Research, Public and Private
- 2. Connecting with Your Reader: (Re-)Creating Yourself
II. Asking Questions, Finding Answers
- 3. From Topics to Questions
- 4. From Questions to a Problem
- 5. From Problems to Sources
- 6. Engaging Sources
III. Making a Claim and Supporting It
- 7. Making Good Arguments: An Overview
- 8. Making Claims
- 9. Assembling Reasons and Evidence
- 10. Acknowledgements and Responses
- 11. Warrants
IV. Planning, Drafting and Revising
- 12. Planning
- 13. Drafting Your Report
- 14. Revising Your Organization and Argument
- 15. Communicating Evidence Visually
- 16. Introductions and Conclusions
- 17. Revising Style: Telling Your Story Clearly
V. Some Last Considerations
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on August 21, 2008
Have you ever faced a blank computer screen and were at a complete loss of what you should write about for a 10-page research paper due the next week? Or maybe you knew what you wanted to write about but didn't know how to start? Or maybe you had all your sources, wrote out a draft and realized that no one cares if The Great Gatsby illustrates the three Aristotelian elements of a tragedy?

The Craft of Research helps students and researchers solve dilemmas like these and more. The authors dissect the anatomy of a research paper and create step-by-step stages that guide you all the way from choosing a topic to polishing your final product.

The major sections of this book address how to form a good research claim that your readers will care about; how to find and evaluate sources; how to support your claim with evidence, reasons and warrants; and how to prepare, draft and revise your paper. The authors use simple and clear language, and if that's not enough, they provide easy-to-understand visuals and diagrams to help make their point.

The authors also cover useful areas such as ethics (why you must always cite even when just discussing an idea of another writer's), the Internet (when it's acceptable to use web-based sources), and visuals (why 3-D graphs are a bad idea).

Sure, some of the advice they provide you may already know, but as the authors cover nearly everything to do with research papers (albeit in a generalized way), there's something for everyone. It's also nice to have a guide that will remind you of everything you learned in your freshman English classes. Clear, concise, and accessible, the Craft of Research is one of the best books on research.
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on November 19, 1997
"The Craft of Research" offers researchers practical and clear suggestions for organizing papers. Although somewhat geared for professional writers, it can also be used by high school students writing their first research paper. The authors offer step-by-step formulas for making and evaluating proposed 'claims.' They also include tips that relate to the prior chapter. Another important area covered by Booth, Colomb and Williams is drafting and revision. More clear, step-by-step techniques make this section an important tool for writers. Using their techniques, a writer easily identifies possible problems with arguements or organization. However, the discussion of warrants in "The Craft of Research" is difficult to follow. Since warrants are many times infered but not stated in day-to-day conversations, it is difficult topic to comprehend by novice writers. The authors attempt to explain warrants through examples, clear terms and illustrations. Although the explanation of a warrant (evidence supporting a claim) is successful, the illustrations of warrants is muddied and the logic sometimes hard to comprehend. "The Craft of Research" is an excellent tool for writers of all ages and experience levels. Its guidelines and suggestions, when followed, will produce clearer, cohesive papers and books. Writers should find a spot on the shelf for this book next to 'Miss Kate' (Turabian) as an essential writing and style guide.
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on May 19, 2005
The authors of The Craft of Research, Wayne C. Booth, Gregory G. Colomb and Joseph M. Williams, presented a scholarly, practical guide to mastering the art of research. They provided a book with tested programmes for turning rough drafts and clumsy prose into clear, powerful and effective writing. The authors presented their propositions, arguments and solutions in a logical, thorough and convincing manner.

The authors produced a unique guide that shows that real research loops back and forth. They explain how each part of the process influences all the others. The authors showed that asking a question about a topic can prepare the researcher to draft a paper, how the process of drafting can reveal problems with an argument, and how the elements of a good introduction can reveal the need for additional research.

The authors encourage researchers to put themselves into the shoes of the readers. They explained how that can be done, by explaining how readers read. Understanding how readers read enables the researcher to know better how to meet their expectations and help readers to see things the researcher's way.

The book teaches skills that are essential to the success of any research project. These include finding a topic, generating research questions, constructing arguments, creating a first draft, and revising that draft for a final report that meets the needs of a community of readers.

The book reflects the way researchers work, proceeding from a complex loop of thinking, writing, revising, refining and rethinking. The book teaches that a successful research project is a carefully orchestrated conversation between researcher and reader.

The book is essential reading before one goes to a library or begin collecting data, presenting evidence or doing an outline, as its expertise is essential in giving direction to the research efforts.

I read this book because I needed guidance on carrying out a research project. I needed to learn about the distinctive nature, values and protocols of research. The book enabled me to learn how to select a research topic, and how to discover one in a wide range of sources, including my personal interests. The book showed me how to create a research agenda, by framing the right questions, finding and using the right materials for a solid base of knowledge.

I also needed to learn about the essentials of argument, that is, how to make a claim and support it. I also learnt how to outline a draft, revise, and rewrite and polish the final report.
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on October 17, 2001
Covers research methods in general, but with the main emphasis on writing (not how to write correct english, but more on "semantics" and argumental structure/retoric in scientific writing). For those who may think it sounds similar to typical "Scientific Writing" courses, you're only partially right. Courses are often more into how to write correct and have academic style and structure, the book gives better coverage regarding semantic structure of papers.
This book is suitable for those who've got non-well-defined research topics/problems and are trying to prune down to one, or those who would like to sharpen the argumentation of their papers and thesis.
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on August 26, 2005
As one customer reviewer pointed out, this book is more for the student and higher education academics who are required to do and publish research. I purchased the book and read it in its entirety within a matter of days. It is very well written, and the structure and format are highly systematic. The "Craft of Research" has been the best reference tool I've come across that will help me to produce a doctoral dissertation that I will be proud to defend. One further point: Readers of this book should also consider a companion book, "The Craft of Argument," authored by two of the current book's coauthors.
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