Concept Experience #6

As a follow-up to your work in Concept Experience #5, this assignment asks you to study and articulate what makes an effective integration of outside research and hyperlinks in a text similar to the Inquiry Project draft that you will begin writing this week.

A signal phrase is a phrase that introduces a quote or the findings of a study.   It tells the reader who is speaking and identifies where or when a study was published and thus gives credibility to the evidence you use as a writer.

signalimagesWriters of internet texts demonstrate a wide range of signal phrase use, ranging from none used at all, to vague mentions of a study (that must be “out there” somewhere, but you have to track it down if you want to find it), to linking directly to the study in their text, and finally, to developing some discussion of the study in the text as well as providing a link.

For the purposes of your Inquiry Project, we want you to do MORE, rather than less, when it comes to signaling your sources.  In the examples below, you will read 4 attempts to integrate information about the same study.  Already you will see that #4 provides the most extensive signal phrase, and the most developed commentary on the study, blending the key findings of the study into the writer’s document so that the reader doesn’t have to follow a link to read the abstract if (s)he doesn’t want to.

It’s important to understand that the link to an article should supplement your writing. That is, if the reader is really interested in learning more about the study, (s)he can easily access it.  At the same time, the link should not be the only information you provide in your text about the study.  It’s your job as a writer to call attention to key points in the study that support a point you are making in your argument.  Compare:

  1. It has been shown through research that feelings displayed on Facebook are contagious. If you see more positive posts than negative posts, then you start posting more positive posts as well.
  2. There have been studies done on Facebook and all the emotions related to posts. “We have enough power in this data set to show that emotional expressions spread online and also that positive expressions spread more than negative.”
  3. Researchers in a new study have found that feelings displayed on Facebook are contagious. They found enough data to show that “emotional expressions spread online and also that positive expressions spread more than negative.”
  4. In a new study, researchers from University of California, San Diego have found that feelings displayed on Facebook are contagious. Publishing a paper in the journal PLOS ONE, the team analyzed over a billion anonymous status updates from more than 100 million Facebook subscribers across the United States and found that positive posts beget positive posts and negative posts beget negative posts. They said that while both are common on the site, the positive posts are more influential. They concluded, “We have enough power in this data set to show that emotional expressions spread online and also that positive expressions spread more than negative.”

For this Concept Experience #6 (title of the blog post):  Copy the four statements above into a blog post.  After each, in bold, articulate the specific failings of #1, #2, and #3.  Each have somewhat different shortcomings (in terms of in-text citations, signal phrases, and links) and this exercise asks you to study these statements and specifically name and reflect on the shortcomings.  This means write a few sentences about each failing.

Afterwards, read the full article in which #4 appears here, and reflect on the writer’s use of signal phrases to support his argument. Since #3 is almost effective, study the links used and the signal phrases to articulate what makes #4 more effective than #3.

The goal:  After identifying the shortcomings of the source integration attempts above, you will NOT make the same mistakes in your Inquiry Project.  : )

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